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.
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.
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?!”
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.
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.
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?
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.
I’ve read a lot of responses to, and hot takes on, The Rings of Power in the last 24 hours (you can check some of them out here if you’ve missed our roundup). But, without a doubt, this is the most insightful and useful one so far.
In it, Vanity Fair writer Joanna Robinson puts 10 key questions about Amazon’s Rings of Power production to showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, and adds her own lore-based thoughts on their answers.
It’s just a terrific read, chock-full of amazing details.
In studying the language from the first three episodes Amazon let Vanity Fair screen, we found a mix of cleverly repurposed lines of Tolkien’s dialogue as well as a few snatches of Biblical text. “Both Patrick and I have religious backgrounds,” Payne says. “I spent a lot of time just reading those sacred texts. I was an English major at Yale and loved Shakespeare at the time and still go back and reread the various plays. I’ve also spent a lot of time studying Hebrew poetry and parallelism and inverted parallelism and chiasmus and all these cool rhetorical strategies that poets and prophets from thousands of years ago would use to communicate sacred material. And Tolkien, sometimes, will play in that kind of a sandbox.”
McKay explains that they tailored the dialogue to fit each kind of character. The harfoots speak with an Irish lilt whereas the elves speak in elevated British phrases. “We even came up with hero meters for each different race in Tolkien,” Payne says. “Some of them will speak in iambs. Some of them will speak in dactyls. Some of them will speak in trochees.” That in-depth approach might please Professor Tolkien, whose specialty was philology, a.k.a. the history of language.
One of the best revelations is clear, direct confirmation on the rights situation simply because it immediately clears away so much fan debate:
So what did Amazon buy? “We have the rights solely to The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King, the appendices, and The Hobbit,” Payne says. “And that is it. We do not have the rights to The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, The History of Middle-earth, or any of those other books.”
So if you’ve been wondering (as I have), everything in the trees image must be explained by LOTR and The Hobbit alone. And if you can’t find it in those books, don’t expect to see it in The Rings of Power.
BOOTNOTE: Writer 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!
Perhaps the meaning behind these words can be discovered in The Silmarillion. When Aulë, one of the Valar, created the Dwarves in secret “in a hall under the mountains in Middle-earth”, he preempted Eru Ilúvatar’s desire that the Elves, the Firstborn of his design, be the first sentient beings in Middle-earth. Instead of destroying Aulë’s creations, Ilúvatar granted them life, but not until after the Elves were awakened. Ilúvatar tells Aulë:
“They shall sleep now in the darkness under stone, and shall not come forth until the Firstborn have awakened upon Earth; and until that time thou and they shall wait, though long it may seem. But when the time comes, I will awaken them…”
J.R.R Tolkien, The Silmarillion, Of Aulë and Yavanna
Or it could be that the inscription on the hammer refers to the Dwarves’ love of delving deep under the earth, awakening the stone to its potential to become vast and glorious halls, such as Menegroth, the realm of King Thingol and Queen Melian, and Moria, or as it is called in the Dwarven tongue, Khazad-dûm.
In regards to the runes that appear on the hammer, they are a system of writing called the Cirth, or the Angerthas. They were created by Tolkien and appear in a chart in the Lord of the Rings in ‘Appendix E: Writing and Spelling’. Historically, runes were used across Northern Europe during the Middle Ages by the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. Tolkien borrowed from these sources and others to create his own unique set of runes. In Tolkien’s legendarium, the origins of the Dwarven runes as we know them date back to the Sindar and Noldor Elves, and the Dwarves did not come to learn them until the beginning of the Second Age, which fits in with the show’s timeline. The Elves later abandoned Cirth for Tengwar, used commonly to write Quenya and Sindarin. Cirth only represented the sounds of Sindarin, and were primarily used for engraving into stone, metal, or wood, the reason for the straight edges and angles of the letters. The Dwarves of Moria added to and expanded the Angerthas to serve their own language and purposes.
In translating the poster, there were two runes that confused the meaning at first. The first was the rune used for “ng” in “Sleeping”. The poster uses the rune for “nj” instead of “ng”. According to the LotR appendices, the “ng” rune was one of the newer cirth introduced by the Dwarves of Moria, though it does not say at what date. It does say “This Angerthas Moria is represented in the tomb-inscription.” Assuming this references Balin’s Tomb, the “ng” rune might not have been in popular usage until later than the series may portray. The second thing that tripped me up was the rune used for the silent “e” in “Awake” and “Stone”. The symbol for the silent “e” is given a value of “*” on the chart in the appendices, and it was only through further research that I was able to confirm the corresponding letter and sound.
It’s really wonderful to return to Arda! There is so much to look forward to when The Rings of Power airs this fall – and even sooner if these posters are any indication.
Harper Collins has just released a preview of its forthcoming Tolkien book The Nature of Middle-earth.
The Nature of Middle-earth reveals for the first time J.R.R. Tolkien’s final notes and essays, covering topics ranging from “the metaphysics of Elvish immortality and reincarnation, and the Powers of the Valar, to more earth-bound subjects of the lands and beasts of Númenor, the geography of the Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor…” (according to the publisher blurb).
And a quick flip through shows that this is the case. I do wonder whether the information here about the nature of elves will come to supplant what’s in The History of Middle-earth‘s Law and Customs of the Eldar. Time will tell, I guess.
If you’ve read The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, or The History of Middle-earth, you’ll want to check this out. Just click the book cover image to head to the Harper Collins preview site.
This is part one of a two part interview with Julia Golding, founder of Project Northmoor and the Oxford Centre for Fantasy, which is dedicated to creativity and the study of Oxford’s most famous fantasy writer, J.R.R. Tolkien. Like Tolkien, she studied at the University of Oxford where she received a Doctorate in English Literature. Her CV includes British diplomat and Oxfam policy adviser, as well as multi-award winning author of children’s and young adult novels, with over a half a million books sold worldwide, which have been translated into many languages.
Mithril: What is your first memory of reading Tolkien?
Julia: Your question reminded me that I had a first unsuccessful attempt at reading The Hobbit too young on my own (around 6 or 7) which put me off Tolkien. I wish someone had read it to me – or steered me towards a recording –because it took me a long while to rediscover The Hobbit. But then came the summer when I was ten. I decided to try Tolkien again but started with The Lord of the Rings. I have a vivid memory of lying on a sofa in my childhood home in Essex, suburban Southeast England. I can even conjure up the feeling of the sofa fabric and the cool room with the sunny road outside. I was enchanted, completely lost in his world. I got to the end, and immediately went back to The Fellowship of the Ring, because I couldn’t stand for the experience to end – so I carried on lying down reading. It really was a turning point for me; ever since then he has helped inspire my passion for creating worlds in fiction.
Mithril: You’ve written over 60 novels, and once said “[Tolkien] is a key influence over the way I write and the reason I became an author.” Can you delve into this a bit more?
Julia: It is connected to his example as a creator of myth. He wrote about us being sub-creators, how we can be a little like a god to our own worlds. I love the idea that we each have the ability to create these microcosm universes, decide the rules and nature of the worlds, invent the peoples, their behaviour, culture and languages. Tolkien led by example. His enduring appeal to me is as a uniquely creative mind whose subcreation has unrivalled internal consistency, length, breadth and depth.
I was also inspired by how he wrote about the things that mattered to him by using them to power the structure holding up Middle-earth. He didn’t come at you with an obvious allegory and bash you over the head with the application; he famously wrote in the Preface to The Fellowship of the Ring that: ‘I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence.’
That doesn’t mean, of course, there aren’t values or messages to be drawn, but these are those connected with the reader’s experience. You can be a person of faith, no faith, and from the whole range of world cultures, and still there will be something important there for you. He found great power in such stories as those where the hero sacrifices themselves, displays humanity to the enemy, or fights a battle where victory is also a kind of defeat – all of which can be linked to source stories ranging from the Bible to George MacDonald and William Morris, via Old Norse sagas and Anglo-Saxon poetry. This method of using the things you find powerful as a code underlying your own story showed me how to draw on what I care about to create something uniquely mine – and hopefully the reader senses this and cares too.
Mithril: You hold a Doctorate in English Literature from the University of Oxford. While there, did you study Tolkien’s works?
Julia: I studied Tolkien when I did my undergraduate degree, which was in [the University of] Cambridge back in the mists of time. I wrote a final year paper on Tolkien and C.S. Lewis looking at their different approaches to mythopoeia. I didn’t become a professional writer for another fifteen years, but that third-year thesis stayed with me.
Mithril: You are the founder of Project Northmoor, a center for creative studies with a focus on fantasy and J.R.R. Tolkien. How did the idea for this come about? Can you talk about the process of pulling it together?
Julia: This all came out of the attempt to buy Tolkien’s house, which began in November 2020, launching in December that year – all in super-quick time as we were trying to buy it before anyone else did. I live close by the house. When I cycle past, I have always thought it would make a perfect creative writing centre and would be a wonderful way to honour Tolkien’s legacy. There isn’t anywhere like that in the UK, which is astonishing considering his global importance as a writer. When we started the campaign to buy it, we decided the idea of having a literary centre in Oxford was a valid goal even if we didn’t achieve our aim for the house. We wanted to provide a place for those who love Oxford fantasy to come for inspiration. When we didn’t make the target in the first three months, we had to stop as the vendor wanted to take another offer. Such a shame as we really gave it our best shot! Many Tolkien fans around the world were really generous but there just weren’t enough of us to get us over the line. We then went to plan b and began looking for another venue for the centre. However, that meant we started off online. That was a blessing in disguise as it made us think outside the box of what residential creative centres usually offer. We could be global from the outset, building a wonderful community of creatives who are inspired by Tolkien and other Oxford fantasy writers.
In the second part of this interview, we’ll share a video where Julia visits a barrow which may have helped inspire the Barrow Downs scene in The Fellowship of the Ring.
Here we are, at the final day of TORn’s Advent Calendar. We hope you’ve enjoyed our 24 days of posts: exploring Amazon’s new cast announcements, day dreaming about visiting New Zealand, taking a closer look at a seasonally appropriate work of the Professor’s, and even releasing some merchandise, to bring hope for the coming year!
It just remains for us to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas. We know that lots of people are alone this year, and that the holiday season will be very different for many. You may feel that you are ‘the furthest away from home you’ve ever been’; but we hope that you always find yourself at home in Middle-earth, in the pages of Tolkien’s books, in Peter Jackson’s movies, and here at TheOneRing.net. We are a Fellowship of Fans; one big, happy, geeky family.
For something extra special to end our Advent Calendar, a few actor members of our family wanted to send greetings to you all. These three charming dwarven fellows are sending love to everyone.