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.

Here’s a question. If you’re LOTR on Prime, and if your main series material is centered on the Second Age, why tease/lead with an image that show something from a vastly earlier period in the history of Tolkien’s world?

I’ve been pondering this a lot.

Unless LOTR on Prime has gone collectively mad, then there has to be a purpose — some link between that panorama, and the Second Age story that we know is coming.

So, let’s analyse that.

The location itself may offer a link.

Why? Because Númenor — much, much later — tries to invade Valinor. Problem is, that period of Númenor’s history has little to do with the dwarf-elf interactions we seem to be promised if spy reports are correct. So, it’s probably not Valinor itself that’s important, nor the Two Trees in themselves (sorry TREES! fans, I empathise).

That leaves the events that happen in Valinor, and the key protagonists in those events.

Events are — by and large — resolved by The War of Wrath. However, some of those protagonists remain and become involved in the new dramas of the Second Age in Middle-earth (and Númenor).

And I feel this could offer a clue to what’s going on.

Of the chief actors through the events of the Second Age, I can think of four (five, technically) who are also players in during the final Years of the Trees.

Sauron

The first is Sauron. But the link between Sauron and Valinor/The Two Trees is tenuous to non-existent. According to The Silmarillion, he rebelled much earlier and then spent much of Melkor’s imprisonment lurking in and around Angband. He doesn’t really feature strongly in First Age events until Beren and Lúthien’s quest.

Neither the trees — nor any of the events that occur around them — are useful to solidify the background of Sauron for the audience. If you wanted to use Sauron as a link, you’d need to begin somewhere else. For this reason I eliminate Sauron.

Galadriel and Celeborn

The next two come as a pair: Galadriel and Celeborn.

Here, it’s a twofold opportunity.

One, it’s a way to establish Galadriel’s prominence among the Noldor, and the strength of her ambition. Recall Galadriel’s role in the rebellion of the Noldor and their exile. Fëanor is instigator, but in the Silmarillion version she is also involved:

Galadriel, the only woman of the Noldor to stand that day tall and valiant among the contending princes, was eager to be gone. No oaths she swore, but the words of Fëanor concerning Middle-earth had kindled in her heart, for she yearned to see the wide unguarded lands and to rule there a realm at her own will.

Of the Flight of the Noldor, The Silmarillion.

My thinking is that portraying some of Galadriel’s early life in Valinor could be used as a way to support her desire and capacity to (at least to according one tradition outlined in Unfinished Tales) establish Eregion much later in the Second Age with the assistance of Celeborn.

It would also serve to underpin — whether through continued pride, or Ban (or both) — why she did not return to Valinor for so long. There’s vast amounts of drama to be wrung here should LOTR on Prime do it right. A sort of “How I became a massive troublemaker and learnt to love the Ban” sort of thing.

Galadriel is also LOTR on Prime’s most natural and relatable link to Peter Jackson’s movies: well-liked and well-remembered even among those who aren’t Lord of the Rings aficionados.

Celebrimbor

Next is Celebrimbor. To my surprise (for I wasn’t aware of it until very recently), Tolkien outlined that Celebrimbor was born in Valinor during the Years of the Trees, not in Beleriand during the First Age. That he subsequently followed his father, Curufin, into exile, while his mother remained behind, suggests to me that he was well into adulthood by the time of the Noldor’s rebellion against the Valar.

His identity as the grandson of Fëanor makes him a close witness to events in Valinor while his (presumably) growing talents as a smith and craftsmen can be contrasted against the immense skill of Fëanor (and Galadriel). In particular, Fëanor’s achievements with the Silmarils could be used as a dramatic spur for his own creations.

For Celebrimbor, Eregion is not so much a place to rule but a place where he can be free to create with the ultimate aim of someday surpassing the works of his grandfather. Celebrimbor is also a more natural tie for recent spy reports of dwarves and elves meeting. Unless it’s a very frosty meeting, that’s not very likely to be one involving Galadriel and Celeborn (even if Galadriel is not entirely unreceptive to dwarves).

Glorfindel

Glorfindel is the final option. Also an exile, also born in the Years of the Trees. Coincidentally, also blonde. As The Fellowship of the Ring describes it, “his hair was of shining gold”.

Moreover, Glorfindel returns to Middle-earth sometime during the Second Age to play a role in helping keep Sauron at bay after he forges the One Ring. Tolkien writes that this was probably sometime between SA1200 and SA1600 though, and I wonder whether even the first full season would get that far.

Any other elf is a poor fit.

Cirdan did not make the journey to Valinor. Gil-galad is too young — born near the end of the First Age in Beleriand. Elrond is in the same boat. And the rest of the chief Noldorin exiles either died in the long wars against Melkor, or returned to Valinor at the conclusion of the War of Wrath.

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Numenor is a central location in Amazon’s billion dollar Lord of the Rings series, and now we have the first description of the peoples of the island, thanks to the intrepid Fellowship of Fans.

Guilds as Tolkien wrote

According to leaked set reports, Numenorians have trade guilds and wear patches marking their trade allegiance according the extras on the set. This is actually true to the books and maintains #FidelityToTolkien.

This seems to confirm that Amazon has licensed stories from UNFINISHED TALES by J.R.R. Tolkien, a book posthumously edited & published by Christopher Tolkien. If we look at page 170:

Among the wrights of the Edain were weaponsmiths, and they had with the teaching of the Noldor acquired great skill in the forging of swords, of axe-blades, and of spearheads and knives. Swords the Guild of Weaponsmiths still made, for the preservation of the craft, though most of their labour was spent on the fashioning of tools for the uses of peace.

Unfinished Tales
Elves forging

Numenor is like Themyscira?

Further in Unfinished Tales it describes a horse & bow culture similar to what movie audiences have recently seen in Wonder Woman. With lead WW stuntwoman Dayna Grant recently in the news, it’s not too much of a stretch to consider her skillset is perfect for how Tolkien describes Numenorians:

The King and most of the great chieftains possessed swords as heirlooms of their fathers; and at times they would still give a sword as a gift to their heirs. A new sword was made for the King’s Heir to be given to him on the day on which this title was conferred. But no man wore a sword in Numenor, and for long years few indeed were the weapons of warlike intent that were made in the land. Axes and spears and bows they had, and shooting with bows on foot and on horseback was a chief sport and pastime of the Numenoreans.

Unfinished Tales
Stuntwoman Dayna Grant, as she appeared in Wonder Woman - mounted on dark brown horse, wearing a golden catsuit and with a golden bow in her left hand.
Dayna Grant in Wonder Woman

Amazon will get an additional 5% from more New Zealand’s Screen Production Grant, Reuters reports today.

(Reuters) New Zealand said on Friday it has agreed to give Amazon (AMZN.O) extra rebates on its expenses for the filming of “The Lord of the Rings” TV series in the country, hoping to reap multi-year economic and tourism benefits.

Amazon will get an extra 5% from New Zealand’s Screen Production Grant in addition to the 20% grant the production already qualifies for, the government said in a statement.

Amazon is estimated to be spending about NZ$650 million ($465 million) filming the first season of the show, for broadcast on its Amazon Prime streaming platform, meaning it would be eligible for a rebate of about NZ$162 million ($116 million), the government said.

“The agreement with Amazon … generates local jobs and creates work for local businesses,” Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash said in a statement. “It will enable a new wave of international tourism branding and promotion for this country.”

The first season entered production in Auckland last year with more than 1,200 people employed. Approximately 700 workers are indirectly employed by providing services to the production, the government said.

U.S.-based Amazon media officials weren’t immediately available for comment outside regular U.S. business hours.

($1 = 1.3976 New Zealand dollars)

Amazon Studios has announced the casting of ‘Young Gollum,’ voiced by renowned character actor and comedian Patton Oswalt. (YES – This was an April Fool’s Day Prank – 2021!)

Patton Oswalt Cast at Baby Gollum

With a celebrated ensemble cast already gathered for Amazon’s show, this latest release implies that Oswalt will voice a child-like Smeagol character. It goes without saying that a ‘Young Gollum’ did not exist in the initial intended scope of the show, nor in the scope of the rights purchased from the Tolkien Estate. The addition of a – dare we say it – ‘Baby Gollum’ appears to be a clear attempt to attract a broader and younger audience. The vast majority of us at TheOneRing.net are big fans of Oswalt – so we look forward to seeing where this goes!

AMAZON STUDIOS ANNOUNCES VOICE TALENT PATTON OSWALT FOR THE LORD OF THE RINGS TELEVISION SERIES

The Grammy(R), Emmy(R) and Vangard Award(R) Winner joins the Ensemble Cast to Lend His Vocal Talents to Young Gollum.

(CULVER CITY, Calif. – April 1st 2021) – Amazon Studios today announces Patton Oswalt will lend his voice talent as Gollum in the Amazon Original series based on the iconic ‘The Lord of the Rings’ novels by J.R.R. Tolkien. Patton will join the previously announced global cast and crew, currently filming in New Zealand.

“We are so excited to breathe new life to the early history of this immensely popular character,” said executive producer and showrunner [retracted name]. “When you delve into the struggle of Gollum, and his alter-ego Smeagol, a plethora of possibilities leaps out. It’s a tale which is crying out to be told.”

The character of Gollum first appears in J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’, with subsequent appearances in the War of the Ring saga of the Third Age of Middle-earth. Made popular by the Rankin/Bass production in the late 1970s, and then expertly brought to screen in Peter Jackson’s epic trilogies of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’, amazing adventures lie in store for the halfling-like creature, as his prequel stories unfold.

The character will originally be fully realized as a small child through the talents of WETA Digital, and given voice, (initially coos and caws), by the talented Oswalt.

“Its been a lifelong dream to work in the realm of J.R.R. Tolkien. I can’t wait to get started!” said Patton.

Set in Middle-earth, the Amazon television adaptation will explore new storylines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’. A world-renowned literary work, and winner of the International Fantasy Award and Prometheus Hall of Fame Award, ‘The Lord of the Rings’ was named Amazon customers’ favorite book of the millennium in 1999, and Britain’s best-loved novel of all time in BBC’s ‘The Big Read’ in 2003. ‘The Lord of the Rings’ has been translated into around 40 languages, and has sold more than 150 million copies. Its theatrical adaptations from New Line Cinema and director Peter Jackson earned a combined gross of nearly $6 billion worldwide, and garnered 17 Academy Awards®, including Best Picture (‘The Return of the King’).

If you have a Tolkien/Middle-earth inspired poem you’d like to share, then send it to poetry@theonering.net. One poem per person may be submitted each month. Please make sure to proofread your work before sending it in. TheOneRing.net is not responsible for poems posting with spelling or grammatical errors.

Staffer Demosthenes returns from the wilderness, to consider what the plot of Amazon’s Middle-earth TV series might be…

Hello! It’s been a while!

However, the fine folk of TORn have defrosted me from cryogenic stasis just in time to offer a few thoughts on the recently announced synopsis for the forthcoming Amazomg(tm) Middle-earth series.

I’m going to cut straight to chase and simply start dissecting what I consider to be the guts of their statement. The implicit assumption is that the series is focusing on events of the Second Age. Given the content of the maps revealed by the production crew, I think we’re long past the time where that’s a controversial conclusion.

Amazon's map, showing the West of Middle-earth, and the island of Numenor.  What clues does it give us about the plot of Amazon's Middle-earth TV series?

But what does the rest mean? Given that the Second Age covers more than 3000 years, can we narrow down what time period the series may address?

Continue reading “Analysis: what can we deduce from the Amazon synopsis about the plot of the new Middle-earth series?”

If you have a Tolkien/Middle-earth inspired poem you’d like to share, then send it to poetry@theonering.net. One poem per person may be submitted each month. Please make sure to proofread your work before sending it in. TheOneRing.net is not responsible for poems posting with spelling or grammatical errors.