There has been plenty of talk surrounding The Lord of the Rings ever since Amazon bought the television rights to the franchise back in 2017 for a massive $250 million with the promise of at least a five-season production that is expected to exceed $1 billion, making it the most expensive television series in history. While the costs are high, expectations might be even higher. The novels are considered some of the best in high-fantasy and Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy ranks among the best of adaptations. And after the lukewarm reception of The Hobbit trilogy, fans are eager to return to the wonderous lands of Middle Earth. Set thousands of years before the events of The Lord of the Rings, The Rings of Power explores the world during the Second Age, introducing both new and familiar characters during before the Rings of Power were forged and the Dark Lord Sauron’s rise. Its ambitions soar as high as the eagles, with gorgeous set production and a vast cast of characters that span all of Middle Earth. The first two episodes can be overwhelming as they lay the groundwork for what’s to come, but I for one am excited about the adventure that lies ahead.
Set during the Second Age, The Rings of Power sets its focus on a young Galadriel, portrayed wonderfully by Morfydd Clark, as she embarks on a quest to hunt down the last remnants of the Dark Lord Sauron who has been hiding in the shadows and building his orc army. While he’s not the threat he is during the events of The Lord of the Rings, his presence is felt all across the lands. The beginning of the first episode contains a lot of exposition, narrated by Galadriel herself as she gives an overview of Middle Earth, Sauron, Morgoth, and sets the scene for what’s to follow in the series. It’s a lot to take in. The scope of the entire show is massive with so many characters from all different races and lands. Galadriel may be at the center of it all, but the series shifts focus between the plights of elves, dwarves, men, and hobbits (here referred to as Harfoots).
The majority of the characters are new to audiences who might only be familiar with the films. A younger Elrond joins Galadriel and names like Durin and Isildur will sound familiar, but The Rings of Power has a lot of world building that needs to get done. So far the stories involve Galadriel’s hunt for Sauron, a forbidden romance between human Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi) and elven warrior Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova), and the young Harfoot Nori’s (Markella Kavenagh) dreams of adventure. Right now things are spread out all across Middle Earth, but I expect their stories to eventually intertwine.
J. R. R. Tolkien did a phenomenal job creating this entire universe and all its deep and fantastical lore, and The Rings of Power brings all of that Middle Earth majesty to life. I love the production design of the show, and how each of the races has their own visual style the feels real and lived in. The elves and intricate and ornate details on everything, from hand-carved facades to their beautiful homeland of Lórien. I love the look of Arondir’s armor in particular, which appears to be crafted from the bark of a tree but is no doubt made of metal. Meanwhile everything about the Harfoot’s feels more down to earth and homemade as they’re mostly accustomed to hiding from everyone else and moving from place to place a lot. The dwarves, however, have been my favorite element of the series so far. Introduced in the second episode, The Rings of Power show the dwarves at the height of their power and skill. While the Mines of Moria were dark and full of death during the events of The Lord of the Rings, Khazad-dûm is a thriving underground city that is awe-inspiring.
Despite how overwhelming the first two episodes can be, I am exited to see where The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power goes. I am a sucker for all things Middle Earth, and it’s welcoming to see new stories being told in the realm. I suspect there will be more and more familiarity to the series as no doubt events build towards the forging of the rings. The world building is all there, and I can’t wait to see where this journey will take us.