Maybe it’s the time zones, but I really thought that John Howe’s interview with Empire about The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power was coming out tomorrow. Instead, if you’re keen (and an Apple News subscriber), you can read it right now over on Apple News.
The interview expands on the teaser Empire provided the other day, that “this is not the Middle-earth you remember”. Instead, it’s a story of a different time (the Second Age), when Middle-earth was visually and politically a different place.
Howe can’t elaborate on what that tale may be, but does hint that it takes place against a backdrop of “Sauron’s rise to power, the forging of the Rings of Power and the epic tale of [human city] Númenor” — all events with important repercussions for Middle-earth.
“I was convinced the Hobbit trilogy would be the last we’d see of Middle-earth on film,” Howe admits, explaining that it took an exciting new approach to Lord Of The Rings lore to unlock a story worth telling.
Empire’s forthcoming “Summer Preview” issue is set to include an interview with John Howe about his role as concept artist for Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power TV series.
They’ve posted an enticing preview snippet of Howe sharing his thoughts about we ought to expect from the series in which he empahsises just how different Second Age Middle-earth is from the Third Age world that many are more familiar with.
“This isn’t the Middle-earth you remember,” he says.
“This is a world that’s very vibrant. The elves are not hidden away in Mirkwood or lingering in Rivendell. They’re busy constructing kingdoms. The dwarven kingdom of Moria is not an abandoned mine and the Grey Havens is not yet an abandoned city. I loved having the opportunity to explore that unseen history.”
He also talks about how this story is also taking to the seas.
“We’re finally sailing on the oceans of Middle-earth,” teases Howe, promising a set of sea-faring elves. “They’re daunting and enterprising and are almost colonising the world. They were a lot of fun to imagine. It’s something neither Lord Of The Rings nor Hobbit movies went anywhere near.”
Several Ph.Ds, published authors, Tolkientubers and TikTokers have shared their first impressions of completed footage from Prime Video’s massive new Lord of the Rings TV series – The Rings of Power. (Check out our report too!)
We’ve gathered all of these reactions in one convenient post on TORn. Enjoy!
Amazon assembled a wide group of Tolkien fans for this adventure, but if anyone on the trip is to be considered a celebrity, it is Dr. Corey Olsen. Known as the Tolkien Professor, he is founder and head of Signum University, an accredited online-only graduate school which counts Stephen Colbert as an avid viewer. Corey held court from the first introductions, entertaining a revolving circle of fellow Ringers and fans of his work throughout the week. I loved seeing how excited folks were finally to meet him! While I’m sure he will share his thoughts over the coming days and weeks across his many broadcasts on twitch, Corey’s small but powerful statement has made waves, as an acknowledgement of the quality of the showrunners in charge:
The Tolkien Society, currently headed by Shaun Gunner, is probably the most respected LOTR fan group, since its founding while JRR Tolkien was still alive. They have always championed the literary legacy of Tolkien’s works, and often are a strong and balanced community voice among the hype that Hollywood generates. It’s no small thing to earn a positive review from the Tolkien Society, and in their post about Amazon’s event Shaun praises what he saw & heard:
The show has been created with a level of craftsmanship and attention-to-detail which is unparalleled, and which is a love letter to the Professor… this is a level of commitment and interest that can’t simply be faked. Speaking with the showrunners, I am convinced that they are the right people to adapt Tolkien’s works.
– Tolkien Society chair Shaun Gunner
Nerd of the Rings, one of the biggest YouTube channels who started talking about lore and has grown into wonderful interviews with some of our favorite people, shared a 30-minute travelogue with an essential comment at the end: ”My trajectory on this show has gone from cautious to cautiously optimistic, with excitement creeping in.”
My count may be off but there were around 30 influencers at this Prime Video LOTR event, each with an incredibly personal perspective and deeply engaged audiences.
Tea with Tolkien, whose aesthetic I will always strive to reach but never attain, posts:
As a lifelong Tolkien fan, I’m no stranger to seeing adaptations go off the rails or Tolkien’s creative works being exploited for profit, so I will always retain some level of nervousness toward anything set in or inspired by Middle-earth. But after learning so much more about the show and its creators, I do feel quite a bit more confident going forward. From what I’ve seen, it seems to me that this show is in competent hands.
Tea with Tolkien
Tiktok star KnewBettaDoBetta, who was a breakout lore hero for our marathon 6-hour trailer analysis livestream, shares his excitement:
Kili from Happy Hobbit was there too, known for co-authoring ”Middle-earth From Script to Screen” with Daniel Falconer and Peter Jackson. She has mined the Weta archives, and brings a unique perspective on Amazon’s show which I hope we get more of on TORn Tuesday soon.
Want more opinions on what Rings of Power looks & feels like? Here are more scholars and fans who shared first impressions.
El Anillo Unico, often considered the Spanish equivalent of our little site since the earliest Peter Jackson days, wrote (in translation):
The most important thing we have discovered and believe we can make public, Tolkien Estate is involved in the creative process, and had active participation during the process. This gives us an idea that Amazon has really had people who are experts in the field and have helped to fill in the gaps that exist in what is written about the Second Age. We loved the music, the visual aspect is very good and it gives us an air of something already known. Quite different from the trailer itself that was released months ago
El Anillo Unico
Dr. Maggie Parke, director of the Mythgard Institute:
The top Brazilian LOTR fan group (who I am so excited to have met, thanks to this opportunity!) wrote, “The wisdom and depth of the entire team in Tolkien’s work is something never seen before.”
Still don’t believe the hype? Here are further respected voices from the Tolkien community, for you to peruse:
And finally, to everyone’s – and perhaps no one’s! – surprise, the #1 leaker of things and Bezos’s bane against secrecy, Fellowship of Fans was invited to see and share what real finished footage looks like (instead of grainy cell phone pics).
Big thanks to Varking on reddit for assembling everyone’s takes and being there in person with his own perspective! And thanks to all of the merry company, with whom we had such a great time, and whose opinions are always worth hearing. Find many of the folks from this post around our Discord, where more conversation is happening. discord.gg/theonering You can also join us tonight, 5pm PT for TORn Tuesday, when we’ll have some of these folks as our special guests. And before that, you may want to check out Corey Olsen and Maggie Parke at Other Minds and Hands, as they discuss last week’s events in their livestream (1pm PT).
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, a 5-season adaptation of tales from Tolkien’s Second Age, comes to Amazon Prime Video on September 2 this year.
Last week, staffers greendragon (writing here) and Justin from TORn were delighted to join a merry band, invited by Amazon to a The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power sneak peek event. The group, made up of YouTubers, TikTokkers, podcasters and more from across the Tolkien fandom, enjoyed a day in Oxford, walking in the footsteps of the Professor. They were then treated to a viewing of footage from Season One of the show, complete with music and visual effects. This was all topped off with a chance to meet the showrunners, and hear some of their insight into the show they are bringing to life.
It was wonderful to see some finished footage; and even more wonderful to hear the enthusiasm and passion of the two folks in charge. There will no doubt be many varied opinions on the details of The Rings of Powerwhen finally we all get to watch it this Fall; but anyone who hears the showrunners speak could not doubt their respect for the writings of Tolkien, their in-depth knowledge of the legendarium, and their desire to do justice to the Middle-earth we all know and love. It seemed like everyone in attendance was impressed and excited by what they heard. Alas, we can’t share any details right now – but we can tell you there are wonders being crafted, to bring to the small screen this September and beyond. And we hope you’ll find that an encouraging thought.
Overnight, Amazon Prime Video Brasil used the final episode of the 2022 edition of Big Brother Brasil to show a high-concept teaser ad for their forthcoming series, The Rings of Power.
Subverting expectations, the one-minute teaser eschewed most of the footage we’d already seen via the original teaser released on February 13 during Superbowl LVI. Instead, it deploys a number of highly credentialled Brazillian celebrities to set the scene.
Thanks to the efforts of our fine Discord folks, we have the following text translation of the audio.
Speaker 1 (Thiago Leifert, former-Big Brother host): A powerful force moves our protagonists… a search for a chance to rewrite their own story of being reborn without having to die.
Speaker 2 (Antônio Fagundes, renowned telenovela actor): They heard the call, saw the bars of their imaginary prisons, conquered their fears, and went out into the world.
Speaker 3 (Maria Bethânea, influential Brazillian musician and “Queen Bee of MPB”): But make no mistake, it doesn’t end here. A safe place is, each time, further and further away, and the line between good and evil blurs.
Speaker 4 (Seu Jorge, Samba singer and actor): The fools and the weak spirited are left behind along the way. Those who arrive find in the end a new beginning: redemption. Welcome to the new legend: Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
The choice of voice talent of this calibre has drawn excited approval from Portuguese-speaking fans, who see it as an indication that Amazon will invest resources to create a high-quality localised version. Some fans are already speculating that these four may also be dub actors for the series, but at this point we don’t know for sure one way or the other.
The ad concludes with an abbreviated version of the original teaser, including a Portuguese voiceover of the line from the young Harfoot character, Elanor ‘Nori’ Brandyfoot: Wonders exist in our world. I can feel them.
Additional visual easter eggs
The ad also features a number of visual easter eggs for close observers.
Above the fireplace are two lines of text in Portuguese that, when translated, read:
Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky.
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone.
Carved into the bookshelf (which also features a copy of The Lord of the Rings, and Homer’s Illiad) another line reads:
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die
The left page appears to be random sentences from the appendices of The Lord of the Rings.
We read “THE CLOSEST THAT HAS EVER (BEEN BETWEEN THE RACES)”, which is in Appendix B (The Second Age), but the sentence immediately below “AFTER THE END OF THE FIRST AGE” does not immediately follow. “OF THE KINGS OF THE NOLDOR IN EXILE” appears two lines later, whereas in the actual appendix it begins at the paragraph before.
The right-hand page indentifiably contains “…DWELT GIL-GALAD, LAST…”, and “…ELVES OF THE WEST”. It may be that it’s meant to portray the following passage from Appendix B, but it’s difficult to tell:
In Lindon north of the Lune dwelt Gil-galad, last heir of the kings of the Noldor in exile. He was acknowledged as High King of the Elves of the West. In Lindon south of the Lune dwelt for a time Celeborn, kinsman of Thingol; his wife was Galadriel, greatest of Elven women. She was sister of Finrod Felagund, Friend-of-Men, once king of Nargothrond, who gave his life to save Beren son of Barahir.
The loose paper reads:
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie
Although dim and hard to read, the wall art concludes the verse:
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
Seu Jorge also wears a large, sapphire pendant. Could it have some prominence?
Finally, the painting that Jorge faces near the conclusion of his spiel bears a close resemblance to the gigantic waterfall streaming off a mountainside that we saw in the teaser trailer — a waterfall that according to Vanity Fair is a Second Age location in Forodwaith.
Acknowledgements. Many thanks to TolkienGuide, our fan community and Discord folks — including Duilo, sigurboy, JJJaded, and DrNosy — for helping to dissect this teaser, and supplying screencaps.
About the author: Staffer Demosthenes has been involved with TheOneRing.net since 2001, serving first as an Associate News Editor, then as Chief News Editor during the making of the Hobbit films. Now he focuses on features and analysis.The opinions in this article are his own and do not necessarily represent those of TheOneRing.net and other staff.
Theo, played by Tyroe Muhafidin, has joined the list of characters now confirmed as denizens of the Second Age of Middle-earth in Prime Video’s upcoming Rings of Power series. Living with his mother, Bronwyn, in the village of Tirharad, we still know little about Theo’s story or character. We do know, though, that whatever is to come will be entwined with one of the more menacing weapons that Amazon has also revealed: a broken sword and possible family heirloom.
We have seen this sword before, revealed in a series of hands-centric posters that Prime Video released in February. We are still left to speculate about the origin and nature of this broken heirloom – possibly marked by Black Speech – and how Theo and his mother come to possess it. Could this have been crafted by Sauron/Annatar during his seductive stay on Númenor? A remnant of a past migration of Black Númenoreans as they colonized Haradwaith to the south of Gondor? A family heirloom from an absent father, now consumed by a piece of jewelry more powerful than he bargained for?
With Theo’s arrival, we are beginning to see some facets of a fuller family in this branch of the storyline that the Rings of Power writers have been crafting. Bronwyn, played by Nazanin Boniadi, is a single mother and village healer, living in apparently rustic conditions with her son well to the south of more familiar Lord of the Rings landscapes. But we know there must be more, even without that broken sword. Bronwyn has a romantic connection with the Sylvan Elf Arondir, played by Ismael Cruz Córdova. (How does Theo feel about that?) And now we also know that Nazanin Boniadi can strike a classic “New Zealand is Middle-earth” pose with the best of our Second Age heroines.
And again, we’re left with more questions than answers. Where is Bronwyn headed? Does her regal robe reveal that “village healer” is only a part of her story? Can we get some GPS coordinates for this shooting location? How many cosplay homages will this photo inspire?
Tyroe Muhafidin is a 16-year old Australian actor who has appeared in an array of short films and television series, including Dusk (2018) and Caravan (2019). This will be his first appearance in a major role.
Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Powerbrings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. The series will launch on September 2, 2022.