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Vanity Fair’s first look at Lord of the Rings: The Power of the Ring: Morfydd Clark as Galadrial Photo: Ben Rothstein/Amazon Studios

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Everything to know about new Lord of the Rings series

The Rings of Power is coming to Amazon this fall

This year, Amazon is taking a big swing. Come September 2, 2022, they’ll officially drop their blockbuster new series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

That subtitle is revealing, of course, but all in all Amazon has been pretty cagey about details on the series. Aside from a handful of calculated drops, they haven’t released much by way of explainers on the series, or how it’ll fill in the blanks on a lesser known time in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth history. No doubt this is because the show is a bit of a gamble, even for a streaming service backed by one of the largest companies ever. Amazon wants to prove that it can tackle giant prestige shows, while also making a run at the fantasy crown that HBO scored with Game of Thrones.

As such, there’s a sense that The Rings of Power rollout is heavy on deliberation. Still, the information has started to stack up, and does tell us some things about what the series hopes to be. Here’s everything we know about the story and history of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Who’s in The Rings of Power?

Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Elrond kneels Image: Amazon Studios

Though the character lineup was initially limited to just a series of character posters of purely hand closeups, new details have filled in throughout the year of who’s playing who.

We’ve long known that Morfydd Clark (Saint Maud) was cast as a younger Galadriel, who’ll be hunting down collaborators of the recently defeated first great Dark Lord, Morgoth. Along for the ride are Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur), scion of the underground kingdom of Khazad-dûm (aka Moria); Disa (Sophia Nomvete), a dwarven princess; and Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova), a newly invented elven character in a forbidden relationship with human village healer Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi).

As familiar faces go, The Rings of Power will feature a young Elrond (Robert Aramayo), an “ambitious” architect and politician who’s rising to prominence. We’ll also get to see Isildur (Maxim Baldry), long before he cuts the one ring to rule them all off Sauron’s hand. And book fans will recognize the names of Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards), the elven smith who was tricked into teaching Sauron how to make rings; and Gil-Galad (Benjamin Walker), the High King of the Elves.

Also announced is Simon Merrells, playing an original character called Trevyn. Megan Richards and Markella Kavenagh will be playing “two lovable, curious harfoots,” per Vanity Fair’s February feature on the series. The magazine reports that the showrunners have built out a pastoral, secretive harfoot society so they can have a “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead story in the margins of the bigger quests.”

In mid-April, Amazon revealed the name of a new character, Theo, who’s played by Tyroe Muhafidinis.

Theo in LotR: tRoP holding a sword fragment Photo: Ben Rothstein/Prime Video

Then there’s the rest of the show’s cast: Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Arrow), Lenny Henry (Broadchurch), Geoff Morrell (The Underground Railroad), and Augustus Prew (Kick-Ass 2) — their character names were all being kept under a shroud of secrecy.

What is The Rings of Power about?

Per Vanity Fair, the show will “juggle 22 stars and multiple story lines, from deep within the dwarf mines of the Misty Mountains to the high politics of the elven kingdom of Lindon and the humans’ powerful, Atlantis-like island, Númenor.”

Taking place about 2,000 years before the events of the rest of the Lord of the Rings series, Galadriel is leading the charge against the remnants of the dark lord’s acolytes, particularly his apprentice Sauron, who is off the grid somewhere. We know she starts adrift at sea, where she meets Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), “a fugitive from his own past” and a new character introduced in the show. Eventually this will all lead to the main event of the series’ story and the prequel itself: The forging of the rings of power.

“Rings for the elves, rings for dwarves, rings for men, and then the one ring Sauron used to deceive them all,” co-showrunner Patrick McKay told Vanity Fair. “It’s the story of the creation of all those powers, where they came from, and what they did to each of those races.”

What Tolkien book did they base Rings of Power on?

A waterfront city in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Image: Amazon Studios

Unlike the Lord of the Rings movies or the spin-off Hobbit trilogy, The Rings of Power are not based on a specific book — per se. Instead, the story builds on some of Tolkien’s Appendices, 150 pages or so of post-script that go deep on thousands of years of history. When Tolkien’s family put the rights to the Appendices (and what the author referred to as “the Second Age of Middle-earth”) up for auction, Amazon won the rights for the low, low cost of $250 million.

The mission now is to turn the timelines, genealogies, and other histories included in the Appendices into a story that comes a few thousand years before the time period of any of the Lord of the Rings movies.

“Can we come up with the novel Tolkien never wrote and do it as the mega-event series that could only happen now?” McKay asked when talking to Vanity Fair.

Where are the hobbits?

As McKay told Vanity Fair in February: “One of the very specific things the texts say is that hobbits never did anything historic or noteworthy before the Third Age. But really, does it feel like Middle-earth if you don’t have hobbits or something like hobbits in it?”

Megan Richards as a young Harfoot/hobbit girl in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Image: Amazon Studios

So the showrunners see the harfoots as a way to include the hobbits without stepping on any (hairy) toes. And as Polygon’s Susana Polo points out, harfoots are a racial precursor to the modern hobbit, and they appear to play an important role in the narrative:

All this time we’ve been listening to the trailer’s only dialogue, a female voice saying “Have you ever wondered ... what else is out there? There’s wonders in this world beyond our wandering. I can feel it.” As she finishes speaking, we cut to a shot of actress Megan Richards, which is editing language for: This is the character who said that thing. So, either she really does say that thing in the series, or the editors of this teaser want us to think she said that thing.

How much did The Rings of Power cost?

On top of the $250 million sum to acquire the rights (which also allow the Tolkien family to retain input on the direction of the series), it’s not exactly clear. Vanity Fair cites their production costs via the New Zealand production documents at $462 million, offset by a $108 million tax rebate. But with a marketing campaign and subsequent seasons, the magazine guesses it’s north of a $1 billion price tag for the series so far.

Where does the Lord of the Rings anime fit in?

A crop of the concept art showing riders on top of a giant mammoth. Image: Weta Workshop/Warner Bros. Pictures

The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim, the feature-length anime announced in 2021, is slated for an April 12, 2024 release date. But the Warner Bros. movie has nothing to do with the Amazon series, beyond being set in the same universe.

The War of the Rohirrim, a joint project with Warner Bros. Animation and New Line Cinema, is directed by Kenji Kamiyama (Blade Runner: Black Lotus) and executive produced by Philippa Boyens (The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit trilogies). It will tell the story of the “life and bloodsoaked times of one of Middle-earth’s most legendary figures; the mighty King of Rohan — Helm Hammerhand.”

When is The Rings of Power release date?

The show premieres September 2, 2022. Amazon Prime Video has not yet announced how many episodes will drop at once.

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