As we work our way through the 20th anniversary period of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, we can at the same time celebrate the 10th anniversaries of The Hobbit Trilogy. Our friends at Weta Workshop currently have a timed pre-order going for an amazing-looking Smaug statue from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. This timed pre-order runs until July 6th, which is just next week!  However many fans order this by that cut off date will set the edition size of this collectible. You can snag Smaug right now for $1,299 (USD), or $187.50 a month on a payment plan – allowing you more easily to acquire this piece. If you decide to do the full payment plan you have time to save, with this stunning Smaug not arriving until quarter one of next year.

The awesome folks at Diamond Select Toys have some cool new  The Lord of the Rings collectibles for fans to add to their displays: their D-Formz figures (Series 1). These 2-3 inch tall figures of Aragorn, Gandalf the Grey, Frodo, Gimli, Legolas, Smeagol, and Gollum come individually blind-boxed for $8.99. If you would like, you can order a set of 12 blind boxes – thus at least increasing your chance to get all of the figures – for $107.88. These are in pre-order right now, but are due to ship in October; not too much of a wait to add this cool twist on The Lord of the Rings Trilogy to your collection.

We’re excited to share with you news from the London Philharmonic Orchestra about an upcoming episode of their podcast LPO Offstage featuring Howard Shore.

During the podcast, Howard Shore talks about the recording sessions for the Lord of the Rings films. He is also joined by Principal Percussion, Andrew Barclay and Principal Trumpet, Paul Beniston, who both took part in the recording sessions. They cover a range of topics such as the timeline from Shore’s initial ideas, through drafts to the final version. They discuss the recording process, and Howard making changes overnight. Howard also tells why he decided to work with the LPO for these movies.

The episode is hosted by YolanDa Brown. It will be available for your listening pleasure on July 7th on the London Philharmonic’s website at LPO Offstage.

LPO Offstage is in it’s 4th series and takes you behind-the-scenes of the Orchestra, bringing you closer than ever to the world of classical music. Past episodes have covered things like performance anxiety, the logistics of how a full symphony orchestra goes on tour, and how the music gets from the library to the music stand to name just a few. Tune in to hear from players and special guests to get your access-all-areas pass to the Orchestra.

For those within easy travelling distance of Bradford in the UK, this weekend is going to be a good one! Bradford Literature Festival is happening; and there are several talks related to JRR Tolkien.

Tolkien taught at Leeds University from 1920 to 1925, before his teaching career at Oxford began. It was during his years at Leeds that he wrote A Middle English Vocabulary and his definitive edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (with E. V. Gordon). Like many other areas of England’s ‘green and pleasant land’, there are stunning landscapes across West Yorkshire which lay claim to be (at least partly) inspiration for the Shire.

Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 June, Tolkien Archivist Catherine McIlwaine, author and scholar John Garth, and others will participate in various presentations, exploring Tolkien’s work:

What was Tolkien’s intended ending for The Lord of the Rings? What was the audience’s response to the first ever adaptation of The Lord of the Rings – a radio dramatisation that has now been deleted forever from the BBC’s archives? The University of Oxford’s Grace Khuri will be joined by Tolkien Archivist Catherine McIlwaine and biographer John Garth to explore J.R.R. Tolkien’s mammoth legacy and his son’s tireless work in sharing it with the world.

Catherine McIlwaine, John Garth, Grace Khuri: Tolkien: The Great Tales Never End (Saturday 25th June at 10.30am). More information and tickets available here

From Norse mythology and Christian faith to his fellow fantasy writers and the very real battlegrounds of World War I, join us as we explore the varied and unlikely inspirations that shaped J.R.R. Tolkien’s much-loved fantasy worlds – including Catherine J. Blatt, John Garth, and Alaric Hall.

Catherine Batt, Alaric Hall and John Garth: Where Did Tolkien Find His Inspiration? (Saturday 25th June at 11.45am). More information and tickets available here

Author of The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien, John Garth will take audience on a journey through the places that inspired the Shire, Rivendell, Helms Deep and Mordor and will discuss how the West Midlands and Oxford, alongside Yorkshire, played their part in the creations.

John Garth on The Worlds of JRR Tolkien: The Places that Inspired Middle-Earth (Sunday 26th June at 11.45am). More information and tickets available here

Tolkien has inspired many writers across all genres to follow in his footsteps. Samantha Shannon, Courttia Newland and David Barnett will discuss Tolkien’s vast impact within literature, and how his writing has influenced them personally as writers.

Samantha Shannon, Courttia Newland and David Barnett: Inspired By Tolkien (Sunday 26th June at 4pm). More information and tickets available here

Let us know if you’re fortunate enough to attend!

Prime Video has announced that that they will be bringing The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series to San Diego Comic-Con in July.

Showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay will take the Hall H stage along with as-yet unnamed cast members to brings fan an “exclusive early look” at the series.

Whether that means a trailer, or something similar to the showreel footage that a number of Tolkien aficionados recently were able to view, we’re not entirely sure. We’ll keep you up to date as we find out more.

TheOneRing.net staff will be there, too. We’ll be trying our be to get a word or two from the Rings of Power showrunners and bring you all the details from the presentation in the San Diego Convention Center’s cavernous Hall H, which will be a difficult place to get into despite the 6,500 seats at a convention attended by around 140,000 unique visitors.

As September 2nd draws ever closer, we’re seeing more and more glimpses of what is in store in Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Most fans will already have seen the amazing images, and read the interviews, from the latest edition of EMPIRE magazine – including artist John Howe’s incredible snow troll sketch, which features on the cover of the special subscriber’s edition.

Back in early May, when staffers Justin and greendragon were invited by Amazon to join a group in London, to see footage from The Rings of Power and to talk with showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay, John Howe was also part of the gathering. There were gasps of delight from many in the audience when he was introduced; all were thrilled to have a chance to talk with such a legend. It was also reassuring to hear, from his own mouth, that Howe is actively involved in the design and creation of this new Middle-earth adaptation.

That same day, Prime Video also treated us to a closer look at three costumes from the show. Stay tuned for more from greendragon on what we saw and heard that day; we’ll also share posts from other sites, YouTubers, tiktokers and fans who were there. To start us off, here are Justin’s reflections:

[Continuing the high levels of secrecy around this show, there were no phones or recording devices allowed; therefore all quotations are paraphrased from notes & recollections.]

As the lights came up from the very first sneak peek at The Rings of Power footage (some of which we expect in the first proper trailer releasing at SDCC) the nervousness in the air was thick; not only from the thirty or so fans assembled, but also from showrunners Payne and McKay. Will we like them? Are they two of us?

“We were with you all refreshing TheOneRing.net every day for the latest news on Peter Jackson’s films!” McKay told us. These lifelong fans, Ivy League Yale educated, committed to their church, might be closer in disposition to JRR Tolkien than any filmmaker that has come before. They study every book, revision, note, letter, and interview Tolkien ever shared, to understand his motivations and inspirations. It is this thorough knowledge of the context of Tolkien that has inspired confidence from so many Tolkien influencers.

As the showrunners wrapped up the open-ended Q&A, the biggest surprise of the London trip occurred – artist John Howe walked out with a sketchbook in hand. He explained how he got involved, how much work has been put toward The Rings of Power, and took questions from an awestruck group of scholars, fans and podcasters.

“They just kept asking me to sketch things they were considering. There are 40 sketchbooks full of drawings for this show.” Howe then opened up his sketchbook to the original drawing of the ice troll. I find it very curious that our very first leak from the ROP set were photos of an icy mountain set, then leaks of a snow troll (instead of a cave troll), which carried through to the Super Bowl teaser featuring the troll, and now John Howe’s sketch. Did Amazon leak the icy set pics in the first place, as part of a long marketing game? Or is Prime Video responding to uncontrollable leaks and only revealing what’s already been hinted at? Howe did not turn the page to show any more drawings.

When asked how he keeps this new work separate from the award winning (and trademark protected) work with Peter Jackson, John Howe responded with incredible awareness and insight. “We are all professionals here in the room. You all understand running your business. Whether I’m designing for movies, or book covers, or a streaming show, there are creative briefs to respond to. But the people in charge also know what they are getting from all my previous work.” Howe went on to explain that the true creative separation from Jackson’s films is actually INSPIRATION in the new locations this show visits. “We’ve never seen the oceanic areas of Middle-earth, and it is incredibly exciting for me to discover the great seas and areas that haven’t been explored. That is the true departure from what has come before.”

While John Howe had a plane to catch, showrunners Payne and McKay hung around with fans for some social conversations in the lobby, where three actual costumes were on display. The two guys held their own in deep lore conversations with several Ph.D.s, such as ‘The Tolkien Professor’ Corey Olsen and Dr. Una McCormack. At any fan event full of world-leading-expert-podcasters, there is a tendency to weed out inauthentic creators with deep lore questions. Again, Payne and McKay held their own. There is a reason the reaction a few weeks ago was unanimously supportive of the showrunners: they know their Tolkien, and they know the lore.

The Rings of Power showrunner Patrick McKay suddenly confronted me in the lobby, as his conversation circle moved to catch up. Matt (Nerd of the Rings) was shocked at some of the things we talked about – secret things I’m still hesitant to reveal. McKay wanted to know how I felt about the footage. He was extremely interested in my honest opinion. He cares what we think, what our response is to the hard-earned work over the last three years, if we feel he’s doing right by Tolkien and by fans. My direct response was the footage “looked like it should”, as I wrote a few weeks ago. It wasn’t the overwhelming enthusiasm I think he wanted, but that’s the legacy this entire show is up against: the most awarded films in entertainment history make for a high bar set by New Line Cinema.

To close, here’s one exclusive comment I will share today: McKay was adamant that this sword (below) is NOT Narsil, despite our early spy reports from people who have laid eyes on scenes featuring this sword. We will find out what’s true September 2nd; but I can’t help but remember how adamant JJ Abrams was that Cumberbatch was NOT Kahn. The only job these showrunners had in Hollywood was working for JJ Abrams, before landing this dream gig in Middle-earth…