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.

Tyroe Muhafidin as Theo. Credit: Ben Rothstein, Amazon Prime Video

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?

Credit: Amazon Prime Video

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.

Nazanin Boniadi as Bronwyn. Credit: Ben Rothstein, Amazon Prime Video

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.

Tyroe Muhafidin

Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power brings 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.

In a spy report for the ages, we’re excited to reveal Amazon is already planning an animated spin off from their Rings of Power series.

THE LORD OF THE RINGS (1978)

Anticipating the success of the show, premiering September 2nd on Prime Video, the creative team at Amazon are working on a children’s cartoon series. Here’s what our inside source told us:

The inspiration for the show came from the opening of The Hobbit, when Bilbo first encounters Gandalf. He remarks that the wizard ‘was responsible for so many quiet lads and lasses going off into the Blue for mad adventures. Anything from climbing trees to visiting Elves ­ or sailing in ships, sailing to other shores!’ We thought it would be great to hear the stories of the other Hobbits, who had been on adventures with Gandalf in the past.

With this new series, we’re hoping to make ‘Saturday Morning Cartoons’ exciting, educational and fun again, with wholesome entertainment that is both silly, yet meaningful for the whole family. We’re delighted that Sir Lenny Henry, an actor with a well-known pedigree in comedy and family entertainment, has agreed to voice one of the main characters of the show. With such a distinguished performer already on board, we’re hoping to persuade Sir Ian McKellen to voice Gandalf for us. You really can’t have Gandalf without Sir Ian.

There hasn’t been a final title decision yet. ‘Adventure Hobbits’ was our first thought, but because The Rings of Power is set in the Second Age of Middle-earth, we’re featuring Harfoots in that series. So then we wanted to go with ‘Adventure Harfoots’; but of course the Istari didn’t arrive in Middle-earth until early in the Third Age – so can we blur the lines and have Gandalf and Harfoots together? Then of course there is the additional dilemma about whether it should be ‘Adventure Harfoots’ or ‘Adventure Harfeet’… It’s still a work in progress.

Here at TORn we’re speculating that Amazon may also have wanted to create something to go up against Warner Bros.’ animated Middle-earth tale, The War of the Rohirrim, which is slated for release in April 2024. Now Amazon will have their own animated adventure from Arda. There hasn’t been a cartoon Hobbit since the days of the Rankin/Bass movies; we can’t wait to see the first images from this upcoming show.

Bilbo as he appeared in the Rankin/Bass ‘The Hobbit’ animated film (1977)

Staff from TheOneRing.net will be at Wondercon this weekend in Anaheim and this project is one of many we will be discussing in our Middle-earth! Coming to your TV this Fall presentation. Look for us tonight in room North 200A at 4:30 pm, tickets are still available online and at the door. 

The first-ever reveal of Amazon’s TV series The Lord of the Rings – The Rings of Power via Vanity Fair last week ignited anew the flame of passion for discussing Tolkien’s works, now being adapted for a new medium and in a new format; more so because the showrunners have set out to “come up with the novel Tolkien never wrote“.

For the Second Age of Middle-earth covers a vast period of time spanning over a thousand years, yet Tolkien himself, one might say, for all his numerous writings, both published and unpublished, almost neglected this period of Arda’s history in comparison to the detailed stories he wrote concerning the events and characters from the First and Third Ages of Arda, and indeed even those ages that preceded the First Age, reaching far back in time to the very creation of the World before Time itself began.

Bold yet befitting of this sprawling legendarium is the title of the show, concerning which showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay say, “This a title that we imagine could live on the spine of a book next to J.R.R. Tolkien’s other classics.

Amazon’s ambition to embark upon crafting such an original story – one that compliments Tolkien’s writings, stays true to the essence of his works, and will be judged critically by millions of hardcore fans, scholars, artists, and the industry itself – must certainly be applauded.

Behind the corporate logo that we are all familiar with are a group of passionate artists – showrunners, writers, production crew, and of course, the cast – many themselves Tolkien fans, who have been working for the past few years, and will continue to do so for the better part of this decade, to bring to life beloved characters and stories that so far have existed only in word.

The weight of responsibility to both honour Tolkien and please his legions of fans must be tremendous… and the initial wave of reactions to Vanity Fair’s first reveal is telling of the enormity of this responsibility.

We finally saw many of the leading cast as the characters they were chosen to portray.  While most of the cast, such as Morfydd Clark’s Galadriel, Owain Arthur’s Prince Durin IV, and Robert Aramayo’s Elrond were generally enthusiastically well-received, the reactions to the rest of the diverse cast was rather dismaying, shocking even, and even those might be understatements.

Image may contain Human Person Hair Clothing and Apparel

We got to see Sofia Nomvete as the Dwarven Princess Disa standing in her regal garb at the entrance of Khazad-dûm (possessing, in my personal opinion, a rather awe-inspiring bearing), but rather than geek out over the fact we will get to see this fabled Dwarven realm when it was still full of light, food, and music, what many chose to focus on was the colour of her skin.

Image may contain Human Person Ismaël Cruz Córdova and Fire

Ismael Cruz Córdova’s Arondir was likewise ill-received for his ethnicity, skin colour, and hair; rather than through an open-mind for his portrayal of a Silvan Elf, a group of Elves who Tolkien describes in the chapter “Flies and Spiders” in The Hobbit as “not wicked folk. If they have a fault it is distrust of strangers. Though their magic was strong, even in those days they were wary. They differed from the High Elves of the West, and were more dangerous and less wise. For most of them (together with their scattered relations in the hills and mountains) were descended from the ancient tribes that never went to Faerie in the West.”

The character Bronwyn played by Nazanin Boniadi (shown below) and the Harfoot-elder, a Hobbit, played by Sir Lenny Henry (whom we haven’t fully seen yet) have similarly received criticism for no other reason than simply being people of colour.

Image may contain Restaurant Human Person Cafe Food Court Food Cafeteria Church Altar Architecture and Building

Having been part of the Tolkien community and TheOneRing.net for more than 20 years, helping moderate discussion forums and social media platforms, I have witnessed the attacks of racists, bigots, and trolls on TORn’s many social platforms, and being a person of colour and finding myself at the receiving end occasionally, I have grown accustomed to ignore, and accept, and move on.

Yet the avalanche of unveiled, blatant, shameless racism that hit our social platforms like a massive wave last week shook me.

According to the Vanity Fair article, Tolkien scholar Mariana Rios Maldonado says, “Obviously there was going to be push and backlash, but the question is from whom? Who are these people that feel so threatened or disgusted by the idea that an elf is Black or Latino or Asian?

I wondered about this myself… who really are these self-appointed gatekeepers of Tolkien’s works, and what conceit leads them to believe they possess this automatic authority?

For Tolkien’s writings have been translated in numerous languages and read by people of vastly different cultures and backgrounds; and surely their imaginations of the characters and stories are informed and influenced by their background, upbringing, culture, and surroundings?

Here at TORn, I can attest with complete honesty, and without bias, that we have supported a diverse membership for over 20 years. Across our platforms – from the old IRC Chatrooms and our enduring Discussion Forums, to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and most recently on Discord, our volunteer staff have striven to consistently maintain respectful spaces where people of all backgrounds and affiliations can gather together to share our love of Tolkien.

It must also be said that we have never refrained from objectively debating the adaptations of Tolkien’s works, and despite having great relationships with many of the people who worked on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, we have never shied away from being critical in our reviews of these films.

Debate, discussion, and interpretation has always been welcomed at TORn – it is what has kept us going for two decades – but racism, bigotry, and intolerance simply have NO place in our discourse.

So to all those Tolkien fans out there who may be feeling sidelined, belittled, marginalized, or discriminated against for various reasons (not just your race), please know that TORn is your haven. Our staffers are committed to working round the clock, covering most time zones, on all our platforms, to ensure you can feel not just safe but also empowered to join us and others on this new journey back to Arda.

And to the folks at Amazon – we will of course be objectively critical of the show – but we fully support your casting choices, and we can’t wait to see how this ensemble cast you’ve assembled will bring our beloved characters (and then some!) to life.

Bring on Disa, Arondir, Bronwyn, and the Harfoots (or is it Harfeet?)

This week on TORn Tuesday Justin and Cliff spoke with writer Joanna Robinson (@JoWroteThis) who had the opportunity to view the first three episodes of Amazon Prime’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. She then authored two articles for Vanity Fair with revelations about the show – ‘Amazon’s Lord of the Rings Series Rises’ (co-authored with Anthony Breznican), and ‘10 Burning Questions About Amazon’s The Rings of Power.’

Joanna Robinson with Justin Sewell and Clifford Broadway of TORN Tuesday

Below are some highlights from last night’s conversation. Watch the entire interview on TORn Tuesday’s YouTube channel.

[Note: The conversation has been edited down from the original due to space.]

Justin: Are the articles speculation on your part, or are you hinting at stuff you’ve actually seen?
Joanna: In the cover story … and the article that I put up, the “questions answered” one … hardly any is speculation, um, if I’m saying something I’m saying something … when I put down here’s what I asked … then I printed word-for-word the answer I got.

Justin: Was there any discussion with the showrunners of, you know, a certain level of faithfulness?
Joanna: … they’re not deviating from that core lore …

Justin: Is the sword that we see Narsil?
Joanna: I’m gonna go and be safe and say pretty sure.

Justin: Can you provide any reaction to Lenny Henry as a Harfoot?
Joanna: That is something that I would love to see.

Justin: Was the first teaser photo from last summer of the two trees in Tirion, was that intentional misdirection?
Joanna: No

Justin: There’s so much comment about hair … let me start with Galadriel’s hair …
Joanna: … fandoms are not a monolith, and what one person wants in the fandom is not what another person wants with the fandom … I tend to be very CG resistant in general … when we got to the Harfoots in the episodes I saw … that felt so Willow to me, and that is the highest compliment I can give anything … Do people really want a glow filter on Galadriel all the time? … The hair that you see in the photos and footage that you’ve seen is accurate to what I’ve seen … [but] I have not seen all the finished digital effects …

Joanna: I think the casting of Morfydd Clark is incredible because she’s not super well-known, though if you haven’t seen Saint Maude I really recommend you go see it because she is astonishing in that, and if you want to like get a preview of how, uh, you know a Galadriel that might go toe-to-toe with Cate Blanchett going like photo negative in The Fellowship of the Ring, like, that’s the performance that she gives in that film … she’s such a perfect casting for this because people … aren’t coming in with preconceived notions of her … so she can just become Galadriel.

Justin: What are those people with the antlers?
Joanna: Here is what I can say about that, don’t worry too much about it.
Justin: Are they an integral part of the story?
Joanna: Don’t worry too much about it. They’re a very cool visual. It’s a very cool, practical effect visual. 

Joanna: Does hair play an important part in the narrative?
Joanna: Like Elf hair? As far as I know, no … I didn’t ask this question specifically … but as far as the story that I’ve seen so far, it does not seem to be related to the plot … I’m guessing … it’s an aesthetic decision.

Cliff: [There’s] all this Galadriel focus … but where’s Celeborn?
Joanna: I haven’t seen him.
Cliff: They’re saving him for a later season perhaps?
Joanna: That would be my guess.

Justin: Is there a vibe of a CW show?
Joanna: No. No. No. … that’s the concern that surprised me the most … attached to Bronwyn and Arondir, that people were like, oh, are they giving a CW … this idea of sort of star-crossed lovers is a recurring theme in Tolkien’s work … the rarity of those pairings … is what makes them so special … I can understand why, you know, a slightly forbidden romance would be part of it because that’s a theme that Tolkien was interested in. But it doesn’t smack of CW to me at all.

TORN: Is it possible this only gets one season?
Joanna: Zero percent … they payed so much money for this, are you kidding me?

Joanna: There was the Covid, and the question was did they reconfigure the whole show when they shot the back end of the first season, what did they do during that Covid time? … did their understanding of what they want to do with the show fundamentally change? I can only give you the answer that JD and Patrick gave me … They said nothing fundamentally changed, in they plotted out their first season, and nothing … changed in the Covid pause … They took time during the Covid pause to map out Season Two … there wasn’t any massive structural changes. The other misapprehension that I’ve seen floating around is this idea that the first two episodes are sort of one thing, and then the rest of the season is something else. That’s not the case at all. It’s one flowing story.
TORN: It’s not a two hour prologue?
Joanna: It’s not …
Cliff: Even in the new article it says there aren’t many time jumps aside from the first two episodes.
Joanna: Am I saying there is no, uh, First Age stuff in this at all? No, Amazon has already told you that there is. But it’s not a massive prologue. No.

Justin: Jeff Bezos said early on ‘bring me the next Game of Thrones‘, and then they got Bryan Cogman the lore expert on Game of Thrones
Joanna: Bryan also happens to be a really good friend of mine … I’m a huge fan of his … I can see his fingerprints on it [The Rings of Power], but he was very clear he was only there in a consulting position right at the beginning.
Cliff: … it led to worry … about the probability of nudity or sexualized elements to the story…
Joanna: I don’t think Cogman or anyone in that writers’ room, and there’s so many smart, talented writers in that writers’ room, I don’t think any of them wanted to do like orgies in Middle-earth, ever, or anything like that. 

Justin: A lot of people say it doesn’t look like there was a plan…did you get a sense that there is a five season plan?
Joanna: I can’t say that for certain, but when they offered up their roadmap … 4-5 big stories they’re interested in telling, involving like Númenor and Sauron and the forging of the rings, and … I think the end after that, right, the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. I think they have the major beats of the whole story laid out.

Durin IV played by Owain Arthur

Cliff: The novelty [of seeing the seven clans of dwarves and their lords] is the most powerful draw for me personally.
Joanna: They [the showrunners] are interested in showing us a wide array of cultures of Middle-earth in a wide array of locations … I gasped when I saw Khazad-Dûm, like when I saw the first shot … sort of descending into Khazad-Dûm … I was dazzled by it, and they built that, I know they built that, […] they told me they did.

Joanna: I found a question I feel really comfortable answering … did I have a favorite performance so far? I think Markella Kavenagh who plays Nori Brandyfoot the Harfoot, she’s my standout by far. I just loved everything that she did … and I think stories about Elves and Men and Dwarves are … fun and interesting, but for me, it doesn’t really feel like it’s Tolkien without a Hobbit or Harfoot there, and I feel like once she showed up I was like I’m locked in, I get it.
Cliff: But we have to acknowledge it is a bit of a lore squeeze.
Joanna: Yup
Justin: That’s the fear that a lot of fans have, that there’s so much good stuff in the Second Age, they don’t want this show to be told from the Harfoots’ perspective.
Joanna: I don’t think its accurate to say it’s told from the Harfoots’ perspective – the Harfoots that we see are nomadic, and they have a rule they don’t engage with the bigger folk … You’re not going to see a Harfoot forging the rings or fighting a Balrog or anything like that as far as I know … they are not bending the text that far.
Justin: Is the show being told from a certain perspective?
Joanna: Amazon is very careful over and over again to call this an ensemble cast, and I don’t think it’s inaccurate … Amazon wants everyone to be in on the show, they want the deep dive lore loving […] people excited, and there’s so many little details in there that I think are gonna make people who are engaging on that level excited, but they want those people [fans of the Jackson films] excited, too … I wouldn’t say this is Galadriel’s show, or this is the Harfoots’ show, or Elrond’s show, or this is the Númenor show. 

Markella Kavenagh who plays Elanor ‘Nori’ Brandyfoot

Justin: Can you help fans reconcile the idea that they’re creating new characters?
Joanna: If you were just reading the Appendices of what happened in the the LotR trilogy … a character like Rosie Cotton … a character like that is not a big part of the history that you boiled down for the Appendices … but if you’re putting together the whole world, um, you want your Rosie Cotton since she’s important to matters … The Nazgûl, the nine kings, we know so little about them, right? So doesn’t the Amazon show have a really rich opportunity to introduce us to all of those men, and so that when they fall, it is a tragic story? … so when we lose them we will feel the loss of them. That’s pure speculation, but that’s I think a justifiable reason to add nine characters we may or may not have names for … The way they want to present Isildur … let’s spend time with Isildur … so that when it all shakes out the way it does, we really feel that. I find that kind of story-telling really interesting.

Justin: I hear the loin cloth we see on meteor man was a CG.
Joanna: Honestly classic … If you’ve got a young actress and an adult man … [the intimacy coordinator might have been for Nori so she would feel comfortable.]

Joanna: Is your question, do I know who Sauron is after three episodes?
Justin: Yeah, let’s go there.
[Joanna pulls a red card that indicates she can’t answer in front of her face.]
Justin: Well there you go.

Justin: Any hints that WETA workshop is involved?
[Joanna pulls the red card in front of her face.]

Joanna: I’ll be really curious to see if we’ll be able to tell a demonstrable difference between the seasons shot in England and those shot in New Zealand … JD and Patrick said ‘Our characters are on the move, so you’ll understand it will make sense that maybe we won’t have access to the same vistas’ – I’m paraphrasing.

Justin: There’s a fear that if they share crews because they’re in the UK, it will look like other shows.
Joanna: They are building a home studio in the UK … it will make production easier … In terms of will this show look like the Witcher or Wheel of Time … These are portraits [the posters and photos in Vanity Fair], they’re not the moving images that you’re going to see … When I saw the Wheel of Time screeners that we got which were finished … I spent a long time thinking about why that film, that show, didn’t look as good as I thought it should … there was something slightly off, I thought … it looked ‘costume-e-y’ … I did not feel that way watching [Amazon’s] The Lord of the Rings footage. 

Justin: Are there any photos that almost made the cut?
Joanna: There were many, many, many, many, many … conversations about … which photos were going to be in this piece and which weren’t … we had a beautiful portrait of Benjamin Walker as Gil-galad … I love all the photos … I would have put like all the photos we got [in the article] … I want to give you every single name of every single actor playing every single character … Amazon is like, hey, it’s February, we want to keep doling these cookies out … and let other outlets have some fun in sharing.

Justin: Cliff, what is your one ask? What do you wish you would have seen?
Cliff: I want to see Celebrimbor with a hammer and tongs working over some molten ring-making chaos. I want to see the Elven smiths behind him watching, learning while he’s doing this ring-craft, and then, into the frame, reaches one long, slender hand with the golden robe and guiding Celebrimbor’s hand to a different position with the tongs … I want to see Annatar teaching Celebrimbor this most specific thing.

Justin: Can you give us one no context spoiler?
Joanna: Oh that’s really fun! Hmmm … I’m sorry; if I come up with something, I’ll tweet it to you…

Cliff: We’re on the threshold … I’m going to quote Dune … “A beginning is a very delicate time…”

Check out the full interview on TORn’s YouTube channel.

Thanks to Varking, head of the Rings of Power sub-reddit, for notes on the interview.

The initial posters released by Amazon spawned a million questions, and then the Vanity Fair articles explained some things but spurred even more questions. Just before the teaser trailer, we released a staff “what we want to see” post, with some very specific hopes and questions; and now we find out if any of those were answered. Watch the trailer below, and then read on to see what the staff reactions were.

Mithril’s response:

The world felt familiar and in line with my expectations of what Middle-earth and Númenor should look like. I felt there was visual continuity from the films. It’s difficult to tell much about the story, though there are hints, and I’m intrigued to find out more. Especially about the man in the fiery crater. Also, I’m curious what the meeting of the Elves in the golden woods was about.

Specific things I wanted to see that were shown:

Númenor. I also wanted to know what time-period it was, but of this I’m still unsure. In the last days, Ar-Pharazôn makes sacrifices to Melkor, and the skies become blackened with smoke by the unceasing fires. The skies in the trailer are blue, yet there is a tall tower that is sending out flames, yet it is not the domed tower that the Silmarillion mentions. Could this be the temple of Armenelos, indicating the later days? Or is this the port of Rómenna where the Faithful lived? My guess is Rómenna because the capital city was inland.

Khazad-dûm, I think, in the scene where Durin IV breaks the stone, but the background is out of focus, so we don’t get to see the scope of it or the West Gate.

Galadriel and Elrond. Galadriel’s fierceness and athleticism were as I expected from the hints and photos given prior to the trailer, and also in line with how Tolkien described how she acted in her youth. Though the ice wall immediately reminded me of Game of Thrones. Elrond was a surprise because he looks so angry or troubled, and I would not have imagined him having a contest of strength with Durin. What he is wearing is very cool and unexpected.

Gil-galad! His appearance is satisfying because his countenance and clothes are similar to the way he looks in the War of the Last Alliance in the film, so there is continuity.

A Hobbit–Elanor ‘Nori’ Brandyfoot. She has the look of a Hobbit, and her rustic clothes seem appropriate. I also wanted to see where the Harfoots lived, but we weren’t shown that. Nori speaks of wandering, so maybe there isn’t a settled community yet.

Weaponry. Arondir’s shooting skills seem in line with what we know of Elves from the films. Though it was too dark to make out his bow clearly, the shape, especially the ends of the bow, are similar to the Bow of the Galadhrim that Galadriel gave Legolas in the film version of FotR, and his arrows are also shaped like Legolas’, so I wasn’t taken out of Middle-earth as it was imagined by Peter Jackson and WETA. We also saw him with some kind of axe. In the battle scene, we got visuals of Elven helmets, armor and shields–gold, as in the Last Alliance in the films, but differently shaped. And we saw Galadriel’s dagger (Who else is waiting for a reproduction?) and the top of her sword slung on her back.

How people will sound. We only heard Nori, and she had a sort of Irish accent. I thought there was a hint of Elvish voices in the music, like in Howard Shore’s score for The Lord of the Rings, so I’m hopeful there will be Elvish/Dwarvish/Númenórean languages spoken at times.

Port city in Númenor

Thoughts from Deej:

I liked what I saw, and it piqued my interest in seeing more, which is the whole point of a teaser trailer. I’ve seen a few responses from fans saying it looked too generic and ‘cheap’ – I could not disagree more. To me, it looked very much like the Middle-earth we’ve become accustomed to, just different locations and characters. I do hope that there are more physical sets and ‘bigatures’ (like The Lord of the Rings) and less CGI (like The Hobbit), but at this point, nothing about the show looks cheap. 

From Madeye Gamgee:

My broad desires were to alleviate concern, particularly by demonstrating faithfulness to Tolkien and his source material; and to create a hunger to see more. For me, the teaser trailer was more successful in the latter area. We saw some iconic and exciting moments: our first-ever glimpse of Númenor, with Meneltarma looming in the background; Galadriel in her full Nerwen/Amazonian self (how’s that for an ironic nod to the money behind this project?); some wondrous, ax-swinging (and singing!) dwarves in their halls of stone; and some really beautiful scenic shots once again cementing the convergent glories of New Zealand as Middle-earth. There were snippets of intriguing characters that seem to have stories to tell, starting with the only words spoken in the entire teaser from young “Nori” Brandyfoot/Markella Kavenagh, alluding to “wonders in this world beyond our wandering” (a very pre-Tookish sentiment!). What is Dwarf Queen Disa singing about? Who is Silvan Elf Arondir fighting, and why is he chained? Why does Durin IV weep, and what is Elrond’s mission among the dwarves? Is that an “ice troll”? What in the world does that meteor portend, and who is this “Stranger” that may have emerged from it? This is a world that seems packed with beauty and history, danger and mystery, all waiting to be explored.

But is it true to Tolkien? We don’t know yet, and it’s unfair to expect this from a one-minute teaser that gives us flashes of 20 different scenes. We saw no rings of power. We heard no actual dialog between characters. We have seen some action but know little yet of the forces and passions that are motivating it. We have been teased. There is what could be an aroma of Middle-earth wafting in from some hidden kitchens, and the scents we’re catching seem promising. I’m happy to stick with my spot at the table as we wait for more. With Dwalin, though, I’ll toss in a hopeful, “where’s the meat?!”

Elven counsel in Lindon

WeeTanya’s 2 cents:

The Teaser Trailer’s opening focus on the large statue was probably meant to make us remember the Argonath, setting up the feeling that we were looking at something thematically familiar and different at the same time — a port city of men? Where is it? I loved that we got to immediately see the vast scope of the world, and that the city felt old and abandoned even for a place that should have been thriving. Where is everyone? Are the humans of that port city long fled? The questions started to mount in my head immediately, and I honestly felt as adventuresome as Galadriel climbing up a cliff. 

I loved where the Teaser Trailer took us. We saw a bunch of Elves meeting in a place that looked a lot like Lothlorien, rife as it was with all the golden Mallorn trees (Lindon? Eregion?). We saw one very concerned elf staring up at the sky — who is that? Is it Cirdan, is it Gil-galad? Some breakdowns have already named him Gil-galad, but I am leaving room that it could be Cirdan — I’ve always wanted to see my favorite elf on screen.

The Teaser Trailer gave us a glimpse of Arondir — the way he looked and moved made me feel as if he was spiritually akin to Legolas and Tharanduil’s folk. It’s hard to imagine anyone faulting his grace (OK, I can imagine it) or likeness to other Peter Jackson-themed Sindarin elves. I hope we get to see more of his elf eyes tracking foes in the wood.

I enjoyed Galadriel’s adventures tremendously — she’s climbing the side of a mountain in the Northern Wastes, and hanging out near a waterfall that dwarfs the ones we already know (Rauros, Henneth Annun). She’s in a cave, encountering an albino … troll thing. She’s riding a battle-clad horse at the head of an army. I AM PROPERLY TEASED! I want to know more, these are adventures that probably happened between the words in the Unfinished Tales, and I want to know all about it.

Galadriel climbing an icy cliff in Forodwaith

Notes from Elessar:

So here we go. 

As I stated I in our preview article I wanted to see the world in action. We got that. A lot of it really for a one-minute teaser trailer. What we saw looks really cool and I walked away pleased with what I saw. We didn’t get a lot of dialogue other than the narrator’s voice. So that was a bit of a bummer, but I’m sure we will get a full trailer this summer. So as someone who went in a bit reluctant, I’m pleased for now. 

Elrond struggling to repair relations with the Dwarves

Garfeimao’s musings:

I wanted, first and foremost, to see Elves acting like Elves, which of course, covers many behaviors and actions, but it is the Action I was most interested in. Early in the teaser trailer, we see Arondir in the midst of a battle, arrows in the ground around him. He is seen reaching out to grab an arrow flying towards a second figure lying on the ground, turns it and let’s fly back to where it came. That sealed it, that was the Elven skill with a bow we have become accustomed to, and it made this teaser trailer for me. But then we got more of Arondir being amazing, when near the end he is seen leaping through the air with an odd looking ax in his hands, about to pounce on something or someone, all while having his ankle in chains.

My second point was wanting to see Dwarves, be it miners, builders, fighters, or anything that shows their culture and the realm of Khazad-dûm. We don’t get too much of the scope of their realm, but we do see Durin IV a couple of times. In one scene, he looks rather emotional, but the next time we see him he is splitting a mighty boulder in one blow, sending sparks out. This act is witnessed by at least three, elder looking dwarves with very long, grey beards (Gandalf would be jealous). Finally, we see Disa singing, which turns out to be how the dwarves find out where to dig, and more importantly, where not to dig, which we know they don’t always heed that warning.

There were no answers as to why Galadriel was in the ocean and needed to be pulled onto a raft, but we do see her looking pissed off when the man on the raft touches her hair to reveal her Elven ears. It would be interesting to see what happens next, does she begrudgingly tolerate it, or does she attack him?

Gil-galad looking worried about the meteor

As for my wish to see more of Lindon, we got that, with the scene of seeing Gil-galad, looking fabulous, but worried as he watches the meteor shoot through the sky. And later, we see a beautiful gathering area near the edge of a cliff where numerous Elves are meeting, for either a ceremony or a gathering to discuss important matters. Either way, Lindon looks quite lovely, with the golden leaves of white birch trees and waterfalls.

And finally, there was zero information as to why the Two Trees were the first image we saw from the production, but there were indications that there may be flashbacks into the first age, but the writers are walking a tightrope when it comes to that material. This teaser trailer did what it was supposed to, it intrigued me and left me with tons more questions about what we might see next, and that is a very encouraging thought.

Watch TORn Tuesday today at 5pm PT, 8pm ET with special guest Joanna Robinson, the author of many of the articles that announced Amazon Prime’s The Rings of Power to the world.

Writer Joanna Robinson sure has been busy. Over on The Ringer (not actually a Tolkien site, believe it or not), she writes cogently on the commonalities and differences between the “Harfoots” we’ll see in Amazon’s The Rings of Power series, and the Hobbits we know rather better from The Lords of the Rings and The Hobbit.

She muses on how hobbits function as a crucial mediating influence into Tolkien’s milieu — and how that probably serves double for wider audiences outside core Tolkien fandom, a wider audience whose emotional attachment is mostly via Peter Jackson’s films.

And she explores the applicability of Hobbits to the WWI and WWII experiences of J.R.R. and Christopher Tolkien, and of the British folk in general.

Hobbits can be seen as the proxies for Tolkien’s children, but as with all things with the author, there’s also something much darker at play here. Tolkien abhorred any attempts to turn his Middle Earth books into simple allegories for the two world wars he lived and wrote through. Still it’s very hard not to see his hobbits as the “everyman” analogues for the pastoral Brits who were drawn into the horrors of the First World War and then the even greater terrors of WWII, as Tolkien and his sons were, respectively. In that way, Bilbo of The Hobbit—who is press-ganged into leaving his cozy hobbit hole by a wizard and a pack of dwarves—reminds us of the young J.R.R. Tolkien, who was so reluctant to go off to war at the tender age of 22 he used an academic deferral to delay enlisting.

In a 1941 letter to his son Michael, Tolkien recalled: “In those days chaps joined up, or were scorned publicly. It was a nasty cleft to be in for a young man with too much imagination and little physical courage.” A few years later Tolkien did, reluctantly, go to war. He wrote: “Junior officers were being killed off, a dozen a minute. Parting from my wife then … it was like a death.”

It’s a thought-provoking read. Go check it out.

Read a Field Guide to The Rings of Power Pt 1: Concerning Hobbits

DON’T FORGET! Joanna Robinson will be joining TORn Tuesday tomorrow from 5pm PT, 8pm ET to discuss her Rings of Power experience with Staffers Quickbeam and Justin. Join us then, and be sure to bring your own burning questions!