The author of A Song of Ice and Fire (I live in hope that there will be more books!), George R. R. Martin spoke to The Independent during the Santa Fe Literary Festival.

During the chat, he spoke dismissively of the supposed rivalry between The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and House of the Dragon (TLOTR: ROP is out from September 2 on Prime video, while HOTD debuts on August 21 on HBO).

The battle for fantasy supremacy. It’s The Rings of Power versus House of the Dragon — who will win? I don’t know why they always have to do that.

I hope both shows succeed.

Acknowledging his own competitiveness and desire to hopefully “succeed more”, he nonetheless declared that the existence of both was good for fantasy and science fiction and that he wants to see more such shows on television.

Got Tolkien news? Email spymaster@theonering.net.

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.

An excerpt:

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.

Read the full interview with John Howe on Apple News.

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.”

Empire’s Summer Preview issue is on sale from Thursday, May 12.

Rings of Power Numenor

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.

Pinned to a noticeboard is a map of Merton College, Oxford.
Visiting Tolkien’s old haunts

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 Power when 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. 

Read on for Justin’s thoughts on the experience:

A group of lucky folks, invited to London by Amazon, gathered in the Crown and Anchor pub for a TORn hosted party. Here we see them all, drinks in hand!
TORn hosted a party to end the trip in style; at The Crown and Anchor, London
Continue reading “The Vibes of Power: Amazon shares exciting Rings of Power insight”

IGN reports that, during an interview at the 2022 Calgary Expo, Sean Astin confided that the “preview” for The Rings of Power gave him “the chills”.

“I for one am excited,” he said. “I saw the preview for it, and it gave me chills. It looked like they got it. I’ve been saying the whole time, they’re gonna do it right. There’s no way Amazon is gonna pay almost a billion dollars for a franchise just to screw it up.”

Sean Astin at Calgary Expo 2022

(Ed: it’s a bit ambigiguous, but we’re pretty sure Sean means the teaser trailer and that, unlike, the Vanity Fair folks, he has not seen the initial episodes.)

Astin, who was being interviewed by bestselling author Sam Maggs, said he hopes the Amazon TV series will bring new fans and renewed awareness to Peter Jackson’s films. And he added that, even if the series didn’t prove a hit, he still supported the attempt and “people with being determined and trying and expressing themselves.”

“I feel that way about all remakes. You have classics that you think ‘please don’t touch that,’ but the truth is, nothing can ever take it away.”

Read more at IGN here.

“Sam” (Sean Astin) fends off the attack of Shelob in New Line’s epic film, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.  Photo: Pierre Vinet/ New Line Productions  2003