Five Potential Storylines for Amazon's Lord of the Rings Series

Ever since it was announced that Amazon was making a (very expensive) series based on J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, speculation has been rife about what the whole damn thing would actually be about.

For a long time the popular theory was that the series would chronicle the adventures of a young Aragorn. This left a lot of people depressed. The king ranger formerly known as Strider may be one of the franchise's most beloved characters, but no one was excited about seeing a show about his teenage years. Thankfully, all this Adventures of Young Aragorn nonsense was put to bed when the show's official Twitter account slowly revealed that it would in fact be set in the Second Age of Middle-Earth, thousands of years before Aragorn was even born.

The Second Age is not one that is covered extensively in Tolkien's witting. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings depicted events from the end of the Third Age, while all the works edited and published posthumously by Christopher Tolkien, such as The Silmarillion, The Children of Húrin, Beren and Lúthien, and The Fall of Gondolin, mainly deal with events from before and during the First Age. Most of what we know about the Second Age comes from the Appendixes from The Lord of the Rings and the final two parts of The Silmarillion, which is mostly just a recap of the major events. So a lot of people are rather excited about this opportunity to delve deeper into a mostly untouched part of Middle-Earth lore. Assuming, that is, it remains respectful to Tolkien's work. 

While Amazon has nicely told when this show will be set, we're still utterly clueless regarding what it will actually be about. The Second Age lasted for a rather long time, 3,441 years to be exact, and in that time many wars were fought and many kingdoms rose and fell. There's a (lonely) mountain's worth of potential stories for them to choose from. But, based on what limited material has been released so far, I have a very strong feeling that these are the ones that the show will likely cover over its proposed five seasons.

Warning: If you want to go into this show completely spoiler free, don't read any further, because I'm going to talk in detail about the major events of the Second Age including the fates of certain characters. 

The Forging of the Rings of Power


The maps Amazon released in the build up to the reveal about the Second Age setting each came with a different verse from the Ring rhyme:

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, 
and in the darkness bind them 
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie

The final map showed Middle-Earth at the beginning of the Second Age complete with the island of Númenor and, perhaps more importantly, the Elven kingdom of Eregion. Why is Eregion more important? I'll tell you. You see, it was in Eregion where the Rings of Power, save for the One Ring, were originally forged by the elf smith Celebrimbor with the help of a bloke named Annatar, who called himself the Lord of Gifts and claimed to be an emissary of the Valar, who were essentially the gods of Middle-Earth. This was all a lie. He was actually Sauron in disguise.

The use of the rhyme and the inclusion of Eregion on the map strongly suggests that the show will cover, in some part, the making of the rings as well as Sauron's rise to power. Which makes sense if they still want to call it The Lord of the Rings. This could also be our first chance to see Sauron as an actual character rather than a special effect. During this time he still had his original form, and often took on a "fair" appearance to trick people into doing his bidding. So, yeah, prepare yourselves for people being thirsty for hot Sauron.


The War of the Elves and Sauron


Once the other nineteen Rings of Power were made, Sauron returned to Mordor and forged the One Ring.  When he put it on the Elves became aware of who he really was and hid the other Rings from him. This started a war between Sauron and the Elves, led by High King Gil-Galad, that resulted in the destruction of Eregion, the death of Celebrimbor and the almost complete defeat of the Elves of Middle-Earth. Only the last minute intervention of Númenor saved them from total destruction. If the show is going to cover the making of the Rings, it is only natural that it will then feature the war that followed. Amazon wants this series to be their Game of Thrones so they are going to want lots of action and epic battles. Hopefully they won't want lots of sex too, because that is sure to piss off the Tolkien purists.

The Origins of the Nazgûl


Since the show is almost certain to cover the forging of the Rings of Power, it stands to reason that we'll get to see who they are given to. This means we might get an answer to one of the great mysteries of Tolkien's mythology – just who the hell were the Nazgûl? Almost nothing is known about who the Nine Ringwraiths were before they all fell under Sauron's power. Three were possibly Númenóreans and one was an Easterling king named Khamûl, but apart from that nothing else is known about them. If Tolkien had any idea what their real identities were, he never mentioned it in any of his writing, at least nothing that has been released. This show could finally answer that question. Of course, that means we have to accept risk that the answer may disappoint.

The Decline and Fall of Númenor


As I said earlier, Amazon is setting this up as the potential successor to Game of Thrones, which means as well as action and battles they'll also wants tons of political scheming and backstabbing. Well, they'll certainly get all that from Númenor, Tolkien's take on the Atlantis myth.

The Second Age is sometimes called the Age of Númenor. The island nation was the dominant political and military power of that age. But as its power grew, Númenor became increasingly corrupt. Although blessed with lifespans three times that of normal humans, the people of Númenor grew resentful of the Elves and their immortality and turned against them and the Valar (the gods of Middle-Earth). The island became divided between the Faithful, a pro-Valar faction, and the King's Men, the anti-Valar faction. Sauron took advantage of this schism and allowed himself to be taken to Númenor as a prisoner, where he set to work destroying the nation from within. He convinced the people to worship Melkor (the first Dark Lord and Sauron's former master during the First Age) and to wage war against the Valar by invading their homeland in the west. The invasion was an utter catastrophe that resulted in the complete destruction of Númenor.

Now this is where adapting these stories gets tricky. Because the Second Age was so long many of the major events are centuries or even millennia apart. There's at least 1,500 years between the forging of the One Ring and the fall of Númenor. If the show is looking to cover all of these, it will either have to employ some pretty big time jumps or condense all the action so that all these events overlap. The latter seems the more sensible option as it would allow the show to hold on to the same human characters for its duration.

The War of the Last Alliance


If the show is going to start with Sauron making the One Ring, it's only natural that it should end with him losing it.

After the destruction of Númenor, the Faithful, led by Elendi and his sons Isildur and Anárion, fled to Middle-Earth, where they founded the kingdoms of Arnor in the north and Gondor in the south. Although his body was destroyed, Sauron's spirit also survived the fall and soon returned to Mordor and the One Ring. Once he'd fully regained his strength he attacked Gondor forcing King Gil-galad to form the Last Alliance of Men and Elves, which also included dwarves and other creatures so really should've been called the Last Alliance of Men and Elves and Dwarves and Other Creatures, but that isn't as catchy. The War of the Last Alliance is the ideal ending point for this series. It marks the end of the Second Age, the defeat of the main villain (if temporary), the death of most of the major characters, and sets the stage nicely for what eventually happens in The Lord of the Rings.

So what do you think? Am I right on the money or way off base? Do you think they should've picked a different age? Is the whole thing just an expensive folly? Did you actually want the young Aragorn show? Please, fill the comments section with your thoughts, I'm eager to hear them.

Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011 More Mark Greig

6 comments:

434444334 said...

it sounds interesting and i just hope its good


do we have any idea what happened after the battle at moldor 2 ( Battle of the Black Gate) cause that would be pretty cool to see a after the story story

Mark Greig said...

There's quite a bit of information about the events of the Fourth Age, much of which can found here:

https://lotr.fandom.com/wiki/Timeline_of_Arda#Fourth_Age

Tolkien did briefly toy with the idea of a sequel set during the reign of Aragorn's son entitled The New Shadow, but abandoned it because he found it too depressing.

Anonymous said...

"Only the last minute intervention of Númenor saved them from total destruction."

Whaaat?. Númenor was destroyed 100 years before the final battle of the Second Age.

Don't you mean Gondor and Andor?. And not exactly last minute, the war lasted more than 10 years.

Mark Greig said...

Anon, you seem to be getting your wars mixed up, although I'm not sure how since all section are labelled.

In the Second Age, there were two great wars fought against Sauron. The first was The War of the Elves and Sauron, which ended in SA 1701 when Númenor (which still existed at the time) came to the Elves' aid and crushed Sauron's host. The second was the War of the Last Alliance, which was fought 1,728 years later. That was the final battle of the Second Age.

magritte said...

I am so happy that they are opting for the Second Age -- and hopefully the fall of Numenor -- rather than the original time frame when not much of anything happened. If you were to insist on the Third Age, I think the most interesting time would be the Witch King of Angmar and the Fall of Arnor. I'm not sure it would make sense to try and span all those time periods from the forging of the one ring to the last alliance, though. Unless they want to do each of these events as self-contained seasons with different casts except for some of the elves. That might work.

James B. said...

There is quite a lot of info available about Numenor, especially if one pools what is said in Unfinished Tales with what is said or implied in the Akallabeth - here: http://www.ae-lib.org.ua/texts-c/tolkien__the_silmarillion__en.htm#akallabeth - and even in the volumes of the History of Middle-earth. And there is a good deal of material in the Appendices to LOTR. It should not be impossible to put together all these sources and - with a bit of reading between the lines - to get a detailed story out of them. “Aldarion and Erendis” in UT is a good source for the “feel” of life in Numenor between 700 and 900, long before the coming of the Shadow.