The vast and wondrous world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth returned last year with the premiere of Amazon’s TV series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Billed as the most expensive TV series ever made, it was set to become the global phenomenon that HBO’s Game of Thrones once was. However, after watching the first season, the series seems to have not achieved the planned result so far. Well, we’re only one season in, and a lot can change by the time the show comes to an end (after season five, according to Amazon’s current plans). The second season probably won’t arrive until 2024. While we wait, we’re going to do some digging and try to explain how and if this series is even related to Peter Jackson’s legendary Lord of the Rings trilogy, which is still considered one of the best movie trilogies of all time, and the Hobbit trilogy, which is the official prequel to Jackson’s Lord of the Rings.
Officially, The Rings of Power is NOT canon to Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. The Rings of Power is fairly loosely based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and its book appendices, but it is not and cannot be considered a prequel to Jackson’s films. Therefore, it is somewhat ungrateful to compare the series with the films because the series is not obliged to adapt to the film. However, a lot of the, especially the visual design, from the series was inspired by Jackson’s work.
The thing is, The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy is so culturally significant that, from a fan’s perspective, it’s impossible not to compare the movies to the TV series, given that they share the same name. But movies and series really cannot and should not be compared in any way. Not just in terms of quality (because nothing will come close to the movies) but also because the show is a completely separate thing that doesn’t try to fit into the timeline of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.
When does The Rings of Power take place in the LOTR timeline?
Amazon’s The Rings of Power series takes place during the second age of Middle-earth, a period of 3,441 years that began with the defeat of Morgoth and ended with the first defeat of Sauron. Morgoth was one of the main antagonists in the book The Silmarillion, also written by Tolkien. One of the problems with the narrative of the series is that Amazon bought the rights to The Lord of the Rings book and the appendices but not The Silmarillion. Since the creators aren’t allowed to remake anything from the movies, the material they can use for the show isn’t that workable, not to mention that the show, at least according to the first season, is trying to compress and cover thousands of years of Middle-earth history in a very short period of time.
The Rings of Power takes the source material very freely and combines it with original content to get what we can now watch on Amazon Prime Video. Most fans of Tolkien lore share the opinion that anything not added to the lore by Tolkien himself is not canon, which has opened up some questions about some other media, such as video games. For example, Monolith Productions’ Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and its sequel Shadow of War are said to take place between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies, and the game’s developers consulted many people, including Peter Jackson, to create a story and to set that would be consistent with the books and movies. However, the game’s protagonist Talion is an original character and, therefore, not considered part of the lore by Tolkien fans.
When will The Rings of Power Season 2 premiere?
When Amazon acquired the rights to film this series, they announced a five-season plan for The Rings of the Power. The first season is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, and the second season is currently in production. Given the huge and demanding production, it is unlikely that the series will return before 2024. However, we must remember that this five-season plan was revealed when everyone thought that this series would be a global phenomenon like Game of Thrones used to be, but from what we’ve seen of the first season, we’re not quite sure if the show is on track to achieve such a demanding goal. We can only wait to see if the writers manage to correct the mistakes of the first season and finally give us the series we were promised. And as for Tolkien fanatics, it’s hard to say that anything will ever be good enough for them, except the original book and Jackson’s trilogy.
The first 8-episode season of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.