We now have a release date for Amazon Prime's Lord of the Rings TV series, as well as a first look (pictured above). So when are we getting this potential masterpiece? And what does the image tell us about the show?
If you had said to me ten years ago that we were getting a Lord Of The Rings TV series, I simply wouldn't have believed you. If you had said that it was going to be set in the Second Age and feature the Númenorians, I would probably have soiled myself. But if you had said that not only was the show going to be set in the Second Age but that it would allow us, as viewers, to bathe in the light of the Trees of Valinor, I would have passed out; my body entering a trance-like state of shock.
"But the Trees of Valinor?", I hear you stutter, "Who said we were even leaving Middle Earth? I thought the Silmarillion was still protected by the Tolkien Estate?!" You've worked yourself up into quite a temper now, and you're rightly annoyed. But what if the producers had been able to achieve the impossible - a deal with the Tolkien estate for more big-screen adaptions. I'm getting ahead of myself now, let's get into the release date and a breakdown of the first image they've shown.
When Is Amazon's Lord Of The Rings Release Date?
Amazon's Lord of the Rings series is releasing on September 22, 2022. While that might seem like a cripplingly long time to wait, let's be a little less Quickbeam and a little more Treebeard, and remind ourselves not to be too hasty. We want this show done well, not quickly; this is Tolkien - we're dealing with sacred texts.
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What Does The Image Tell Us About The LOTR TV Show?
Now we get to the meat and potatoes of Amazon's post, a picture (the very first) of their new LOTR series. It was certainly thought-provoking and should lead to endless speculation among the community. But why?
Well, for the uninitiated, let's break this down.
The Lord of the Rings universe is chronologically divided into Ages. The events in the LOTR novels mark the end of the Third Age. Whereas, the Amazon Prime show was thought to take place thousands of years before, during the Second Age, and that was based on this description provided by the show's creators:
From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor
Númenor only existed during the Second Age. Hence, it was assumed to be set then. In fact, and to be even more specific, the loremasters out there predicted that the show would be set around the year 1600, just in time for Celebrimbor to realize Sauron's deceit against the Elves, and the ensuing war. But as I said, we all thought it was a Second Age epic. Then this picture came out.
It could be any number of famous figures walking across the grass, and indeed it could be any number of cities being represented here. But those two tree-like branches of light in the far distance give the game away. This means that the show must, A) be set at least in part in the Undying Lands, to the distant west of Middle Earth, and B) at least partially take place during the Years of the Trees (a time era that predates even the First Age). This has very important ramifications.
Most importantly, it means that Amazon has permission - for the first time ever - to use Silmarillion lore and adapt it for the big screen. Christopher Tolkien, the son of the author, famously hated Peter Jackson's trilogy so he was very guarded with allowing his father's work to be licensed from then on. The Silmarillion is considered to be Tolkien's magnum opus, his greatest text. So it was widely believed that we would never see adaptions of the Silmarillion in particular. But, Christopher Tolkien, who sadly passed away in 2020, must have struck a deal with Amazon to allow the book to finally be adapted. Because those trees, and the tales of that time, are only described in The Silmarillion. Whereas Amazon could've produced a show set in the Second Age based on the appendix of the Return of the King alone.
So that's huge. Really, that opens up new vistas for the show that couldn't have been imagined before. Hell, after this bombshell we might see the Valar represented, or even (and I'm quivering with excitement as I write this) Fingolfin's legendary combat with Morgoth.
It also means that the bulk of the show must relate narratively to an event that occurred in the Years of the Trees. Well, what could this be? There's an unbelievable amount that it could be. Far more than my editor will allow me to detail here. But here's my best guess at what events the show will follow:
- We will be given a tale that is set predominantly during the Second Age around the 1690s, but we will also follow a second narrative during the Years of the Trees.
- Our main characters will be Celebrimbor, Fëonor, Galadriel, Tar-Telperiën, and Durin III.
- The Second Age story will follow the war between Sauron and the Elves, his invasion of Eriador, and his eventual defeat by Númenor - which will conclude the show after five seasons.
- The opening sequence though will be of Fëonor crafting the Silmarils, thousands of years ago, in the Years of the Trees.
- Comparisons will be suggested throughout the show between Fëonor during the Years of the Trees, and his grandson Celebrimbor in the 'present day' of the show. The similarity will reflect on pride and the danger of uncontrollable desire.
- In Fëonor's time period we will see him denied by Galadriel (who later accepts Celebrimbor instead), we will also see the stealing of the Silmarils - the exact year (Y.T. 1495) of Celebrimbor's birth, and probably (but this is less likely) the First Kinslaying of the Teleri.
That was quite the deep-dive, but well worth it for Tolkien. Needless to say, we'll be following this story.