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Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV show is set in the Second Age — here’s why that matters

Decoding the series’ map

A map of the island of Númenor from The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. It’s a star-shaped, mountainous region with a tall peak at the center.
The newly revealed island of Númenor.

Speculation as to what Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series will cover has run rampant since the announcement that the company purchased the television rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy. The tweets from the series’ official account haven’t offered much in the way of illumination — until now.

Two tweets posted Thursday morning featured an expanded map of Middle-earth, notably including the island of Númenor, the civilization of Men from whom Aragorn descended, and which was destroyed thousands of years prior to the events of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. A link to a larger version of the map was accompanied by the text “Welcome to the Second Age,” referring to the centuries leading up to the Last Alliance of Elves and Men and the first downfall of Sauron.

For casual Lord of the Rings fans, Peter Jackson’s films take place during the Third Age, and briefly the Fourth Age, following the destruction of the One Ring.

By placing the series in the Second Age, Amazon has tacitly ruled out the popular theory that the series would focus on a young Aragorn — the king-to-be of Gondor was born in the Third Age. It will, however, apparently focus on his lineage. The Second Age was also known as “the age of Númenor,” and was defined by two great events. First, the downfall of the kingdom for daring to challenge the Valar (the Middle-earth gods). And second, the formation of the Last Alliance between the remaining Númenóreans, led by Elendil (father of Isildur, who took the One Ring for himself), and the Elven king Gil-galad.

Though this is almost completely all-new territory — the Last Alliance was briefly touched upon during the Lord of the Rings movies — there may be cameos from some familiar faces (or names, at least) in the show. The Second Age also saw the founding of Rivendell under Elrond; the peak prosperity of the Dwarven city of Khazad-dûm (which was overtaken by a Balrog during the Third Age and subsequently known as Moria); and the forging of the Rings of Power.

The map also still has a lot of empty space that may yet be filled in (at least if the series’ Twitter updates are any indication), including Harad and Khand, whose people fought for Sauron’s army, but otherwise are some of the least-addressed peoples in Tolkien’s mythology.

The series is planned to hit Amazon Video by 2021, but in the meantime, Tolkien enthusiasts will have the slow drip of new information via tweets — and more than enough time to reread The Silmarillion to brush up on the events of the Second Age.

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