‘The Rings of Power’: What to know before watching Amazon’s new ‘Lord of the Rings’ series

But “Thrones” fans had fun with the premiere of “House of the Dragon” in August. Now is the time for the Tolkienites to get their act together — “The Rings of Power” is here to take us out of Westeros and into Middle-earth!
However, not everyone who wanders is lost, as CNN has created a guide for fans of varying levels of “Lord of the Rings” familiarity. Whether you’ve pored over “The Silmarillion” several times before the new show or don’t know the difference between an Orc and an Ent (one is a goblin monster and the other is a tree-dwelling creature that speaks and walk, for the record), here’s what you need to know before watching “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power”. Now Fly poor fools!
By Amazon, the action takes place in the Second Age of Middle-earth, “thousands of years before the events of JRR Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ books.” The most important event of this era, of course, is the forging of the rings and the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron, but the series will also cover the “epic tale” of Númenor, an island nation of Men whom Sauron manipulates, as well as the last alliance of Elves and Men, when the two races joined together to face Sauron. So, in short: we’ll begin the prequel series in relative peace and prosperity before things get dark.
Did you miss that pretty face?  The orcs return to our screens in

What is the source material?

The new series is inspired by “The Silmarillion”, a collection of stories from Middle-earth and the wider fictional universe, written by Tolkien and edited by his son Christopher after Tolkien’s death. It’s probably meant to be presented as a fictional historical account written by multiple authors – possibly including one Bilbo Baggins – that covers everything from the origin of Tolkien’s world to his later ages.

But “The Silmarillion” is more of an inspiration than a sacred text that the showrunners follow faithfully – several characters were invented for the series, and its creators played with the story a little, bringing to light species that did not have not play a major role in the history of Middle-earth until its later ages, but more on that below.

Are there any characters I already know?

Galadriel is back, this time as a fierce warrior played by Morfydd Clark.

Of course there are! Do you remember Galadriel, the royal Elf embodied with elegance and dread in Cate Blanchett’s film trilogy? She’s back in the prequel, this time played by Morfydd Clark, and from the looks we get of her in the trailers, she’s just returned from battle when we catch up with her. She’ll probably go back to war, because Sauron is coming! We may or may not see The Lord of the Rings himself in bodily form – Amazon is keeping quiet about how he will appear in the series, but he will undoubtedly feature prominently.

There is also Elrond, lord of Rivendell, a majestic elven city in the Misty Mountains. Once played by Hugo Weaving, a slightly greener Elrond is played here by Robert Aramayo. Of course, Elves are immortal in Tolkien’s world, and their participation in the events of the Second Age was canonized in “The Silmarillion”.

But if you’re expecting Frodo, Sam, and Aragorn to appear, they haven’t been born yet. (Even Arwen doesn’t make her Middle-earth debut until the Third Age.) Besides, can you imagine anyone other than Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, and Viggo Mortensen playing these beloved companions?

What creatures will I recognize?

Plenty! As mentioned above, Elves play a major role in the Second Age. There are also dwarves – King Durin III and his offspring – who live in prosperity in the city of Moria before an unfortunate encounter with a Balrog destroys it. And there are also Orcs, bred to serve Sauron and his evil interests.
Meet the Harfoots: Elanor 'Nori' Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenagh), Marigold Brandyfoot (Sara Zwangobani), Largo Brandyfoot (Dylan Smith) and Poppy Proudfellow (Megan Richards).
As for the Hobbits, we will meet their ancestors – the Harfoots, an early species of Hobbits who, like the Bagginses and Gamgees of Middle-earth, are known for their hairy, oversized diets and heaving. Here, however, is where the series deviates from Tolkien’s work: Neither Harfoots nor Hobbits do something historic until the Third Age, when Bilbo and later Frodo embarked on life-changing journeys. Their adventures in the series will be all new – something that might put off diehard Tolkienites but excite those curious to explore new corners of its vast and wondrous world.

Who completes this cast of characters?

Rounding the Wood Elf (Ismael Cruz Cordova) shares a tender moment with Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi).  Both characters were created for the series.

Amazon’s cast list is comprehensive (but notably missing a few names, including the unknown actor supposed to play Sauron). Many of these characters, with the exception of some elves and dwarves, were created for the series, such as the Harfoot sisters Brandyfoot, a mother-son duo named Bronwyn and Theo, and Arondir, a wood elf, a type of elf who prefers forests and woods to waterfalls and great castles.

And unlike Tolkien’s previous adaptations, many of Middle-earth’s inhabitants will be played by people of color, from Harfoots to Elves to human heroes. Nazanin Boniadi, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Ismael Cruz Cordova, and Sophia Nomvete, among other actors, all play major characters whose actions impact the war against Sauron.

Not much is known about Theo (Tyroe Muhafidin), but he seems to be an important character in the events of the series.

Oh yeah, is Peter Jackson involved?

Nope! You’d think the director whose “Lord of the Rings” films became some of the most adored (and award-winning) fantasy adaptations of all time would at least have the opportunity to consult on this series, but Tolkien’s family has clearly indicated that they weren’t totally taken with Jackson’s portrayal of the show. In a interview 2012 with French publication Le Monde, Tolkien’s son Christopher said Jackson’s adaptations “emptied” the source material and diminished its “beauty” and “seriousness” to popcorn for 15–25-year-olds. (It should be noted that Tolkien’s son made these comments around the release of Jackson’s first “Hobbit” film, which received far worse reviews than his first three Middle-earth films.)

The showrunners of “Rings of Power” are JD Payne and Patrick McKay, who also serve as executive producers. They’re not well known to viewers – they wrote several unproduced scripts – and their first major work would also be one of the most expensive series ever made. So even without the massive Orc-sized shoes Jackson’s movies left them to fill, the stakes are impossibly high!

So I watched the first two episodes – what’s next?

After this Friday’s two-episode premiere, Amazon will release the remaining episodes of the first season each week – there will be eight episodes in total. Oh, and don’t expect an immediate resolution to the show’s storylines – Payne said Empire that the story is meant to be told over five seasons. Better settle in for a potentially long visit to Middle-earth, viewers!

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