This article is dedicated to my friend Marlee who is currently reading the Lord of the Rings with her book group. She wanted me to say that ” There are WAY too many Elven songs, they don’t even leave the Shire until about 87 chapters in and Frodo is whiney bitch”, take that as you will. Hahahaha
Amazon is hard at work getting their Lord of the Rings show off the ground and preparing for a late 2021/early 2022 premiere date to drive up subscriptions to their streaming service. I know that I for one and very excited to be getting more Lord of the Rings content. With the budget rumoured to be just shy of a billion dollars for 10 one hour episodes, I’m hoping they go the route of practical effects whenever possible. That for me is what will always make the Lord of the Rings trilogy stand above everything else, is the use of legitimate make-up and effects. Peter Jackson, when making the Lord of the Rings, tried to use legitimate effects whenever possible to add authenticity to the movies. Obviously with the massive armies clashing and the army of the dead washing over the battlefield at Minas Tirith, computer generated effects were needed. Unlike the Hobbit, which was pretty much filmed almost entirely in front of a green screen, the Lord of the Rings took pride in its work and the Academy Awards they won show it.
Enough of that ramble, the new show coming out is supposedly set during the “Second Age” of Middle Earth and is set to feature the fall of the kingdom of Númenor. This kingdom was an island kingdom of essentially “Half-Elves” that were corrupted by the power of Morgoth and tried to wage a war against the Valar. Because of their insolence, the creator, Eru Ilúvatar , sank the island and the people residing on it into the ocean, effectively ending the majority of the Dúnedain lines.
I said a lot of names and titles there that if you’re not a die hard fan of the franchise the average person wouldn’t know. So let’s break down who are (probably) going to be the key players in the show:
This is going to be a VERY abridged history and breakdown.
This guy the Big Bad. The Big Kahuna. The Emperor and Vader rolled into one evil being. He is the original rebel. And he acts like a teenager throwing a temper tantrum with nearly unlimited power. Melkor as he is was originally introduced as one of the original 15 Valar created by Eru Ilúvatar. In most publications the Valar only number 14 as Melkor or Morgoth, as he would be renamed, is no longer counted among them following his rebellion. The Valar can be broken down into two separate categories, the Lords and the Queens. Each number seven beings which are the essential “Gods” of Arda (yhe world). Melkor was the first and most powerful of the Valar but when the creator abandoned the void to create the universe and the world, he grew jealous of the power and tried to find the “Sacred Fire” which belonged to Eru alone. Melkor sought to emulate his creator by also creating beings to help fill the void and populate the world that Eru had created. Melkor decided to add his own themes to “The Music of the Ainur” which corrupted the harmonies and introduced evil and malice to the world. The Ainur were the metaphysical representations of the spirits created by Eru during his initial song. Following the creation of Arda( the world) and Eä (the universe) the Ainur entered the realm of Eä where the most powerful of them were made into the Valar and the less powerful the Maiar. Melkor had rallied followers to him through his own melodies he added to the song of creation and they all entered into Eä. When the other beings refused to accept his leadership of the new realm, he and his followers decided to corrupt everything the other Valar created.
He was drawn to extreme violence and vast extremes of temperature which he used in his crusade and bent to his will. His might was so strong that he alone could stand toe to toe with the other 14 Valar in an even fight. Most importantly, he corrupted one of the Maiar, Mairon “The Admirable”, who would later become known as Sauron. He destroyed the two lamps on Arda which served as the only sources of light and plunged the land into darkness where he brooded and constructed. The other Valar traveled far west to the land of Valinor (The Undying Lands) where they established their own kingdom.
Skipping about a thousand years of brooding and building, Melkor and his now Lieutenant Sauron captured some of the first elves. Using torture and magic, they corrupted them into the first orcs in his massive dark fortress. The rest of the Valar waged a war on him for the sake of the elves and the first men and he was defeated and imprisoned in Valinor, where he repented his old ways while secretly plotting against the elves. He broke out, killed the king of the Noldor elves (Finwe), with the help of Ungoliant (Dark spirit and mother of all spiders) he drained the two trees of Valinor of their life and stole the Silmarils (3 gems imbued with the light of the trees) before retreating to Angband with his new name Morgoth.
Following his defeat at the hands of the Valar, Elves and Men; Morgoth was captured and banished through the Door of Night into the void where he would remain for all time. Though he was defeated, his influence and creations still remained on Arda. The Dragons dispersed, the Balrogs hid themselves deep in the earth and his Orcs moved from Angband to Mordor. All of this happens during the “First Age” of Middle Earth.
The human kingdom of Númenor, was an island off the western coast of Middle Earth, and was said to be the greatest kingdom of men in the history of Lord of the Rings lore. Originally created as a reward for the clans of men who stood with the elves against the dark lord Morgoth during the wars of the First Age, it took about 50 years for humans to fully settle the small island. Elros, the half-elven son of Eärendil, and brother to Elrond was named as the first absolute monarch of the new island nation. Under the rule of his family the people of Númenor enjoyed a life of prosperity and trade with the elven nations of Middle Earth as well as the elves of Eressëa. The latter provided all sorts of artistic influences with paintings and songs but they also provided the seven Palantir, magical artifacts that are capable of seeing into the future.
The island nation became a huge power in the histories of Middle Earth. They created large fleets of ships and expanded their reach into the western coast and the north western area of Arnor. Most notable, during the second age after the forging of the rings of power by Cellerimbor, the Elven King Gil-Galad went to war against Sauron and his armies of Mordor. The Númenorean king, Tar-Minastir, pledged his support to Gil-Galad and his elven force and through their alliance they were able to temporarily defeat Sauron.
As the Númenoreans expanded further into the continent of Middle Earth they began to persecute the men of the continent, believing them to be inferior against their pure bloodlines. Not only did they persecute the Men, but they became extremely jealous of the immortality of the elves and the ban of the Valar, not allowing men into the Grey Havens, and wanting everlasting life for themselves. Two factions developed among the Númenorean people, The King’s Men and the Faithful or Elendili. The King’s Men sought everlasting life while the Faithful sought to strengthen the relations with the elves of Middle Earth. During the reign of Tar-Ancalimon, the King’s Men became the dominant party while the Elendili were accused of being “spies of the Valar”.
The Fall of Númenor
The fall of the island nation began with the reign of Ar-Pharazôn, the 25th monarch of Númenor, who sailed to Middle Earth to do battle with Sauron and his dark armies. Reportedly, when the king and his army landed, the armies of Sauron fled out of fear and Sauron himself surrendered to the king. Sauron was brought back to Númenor as a prisoner where he really went to work. The lieutenant of Morgoth began using his magic to twist and warp the minds of the king and his court until they released Sauron and installed him in the court as an advisor. Sauron promised the king and his people eternal life if they committed themselves to Morgoth and sacrificed innocent people in his name. A 500ft. temple constructed in the capital city where the human sacrifices were made to Morgoth. The white tree, which stood as a symbol of the Númenorean people for centuries was cut down and burned as a sacrifice to the dark lord. Isildur managed to save a fruit of the tree before it was cut down. This offshoot of the Great White Tree of Nimloth, would be planted in Minas Tirith and become the white tree of Gondor.
Knowing the king and his people feared death, Sauron urged them to wage a war against the Undying Lands and the Valar of the Grey Havens. The king assembled a massive army and sailed to the shores of Valinor. The Valar that lived in the land with the elves were forbidden from taking direct actions against man. Manwë, one the more powerful of the Valar, pleaded with Eru to take action against his creation. Eru Ilúvatar took action and caused the changing of the world. The flat world became a globe with Valinor being removed from the surface of the planet and the island kingdom of Númenor was sunk beneath the waves. All the people on the island were killed along with the crazed king and his armada. Sauron’s body was destroyed and he returned to the land of Mordor as “a shadow and black wind over the sea”.
Dúnedain is the term that Tolkien used to refer to the half-evlen men who were directly descended of Elendili and his sons Isildur and Anárion. The two sons and a large gathering of their people fled the island nation before its destruction as they had been named the Faithful and were being hunted by the King’s Men. The sons founded the two large kingdoms of men found in Middle Earth, Arnor (in the north) and Gondor (in the south). For centuries the two kingdoms prospered until the defeat of Sauron on the slopes of Mount Doom by the combined might of elves and men as the end of the Second Age. Several diseases and plagues moved out of the east and into middle earth hitting much harder in the north than the south. The northern kingdom or Arnor fractured into three smaller kingdoms, all of which were wiped out by the Witch King of Angmar and his dark armies. The remaining Dúnedain in the north formed The Rangers of the North, doing everything in their power to keep the peace in the destroyed kingdom of their people. Aragorn (one of the main characters in LOTR and the leader of the Fellowship) was a direct descendant of Isildur and by extension, Elros the brother of Elrond, Lord of Rivendell, which is how he is able to claim the throne of Gondor as his own.
The Dúnedain line that founded Gondor intermingled with human populations and with each generation their lifespans grew shorter and shorter. Eventually the half-elven line died out completely and Gondor was left without a king, which caused the stewards to take control of the country.
Battle of the Last Alliance & The Rings of Power
This is, in my opinion what is going to end the TV series. We are going to get the uniting of the Dúnedain with the elves of Middle Earth and see them march on Mordor and the armies of Sauron. As we know from the beginning of the movie, The Fellowship of the Ring, the combined might of the Elves of Middle Earth as well as the half-elven Dúnedain marched on the land of Mordor and did battle with Sauron. The Alliance laid siege to Mordor for several years before they finally pushed their way to slopes of Mount Doom and the fortress of Barad-dûr. Sauron, no longer sitting back, entered the battle and slew Gil-Galad as well as Elendili in the battle. Isildur took up his father’s shattered sword and cut the ring of power from Sauron’s finger defeating him and his armies. Refusing to give up the ring, Isildur kept the One Ring believing he could use it to strengthen the kingdom of man.
The One Ring and the other rings of power were crafted during the second age of middle earth by Sauron and Cellerimbor. Sauron disguised himself as another elf named Annatar who convinced the forgemaster, Cellerimbor to craft the Rings of Power. Three Rings were given to the elven kingdoms, seven were given to the dwarf lords and nine rings were given to the race of men. Each ring was said to be imbued with great power and magic which helped to ensure those gifted with them kept them close. The elves became aware of the corruption of the rings first, then the dwarves. Sadly, the nine kings of men who were given the rings slowly descended into the darkness and became the nine Ringwraiths with the greatest among them becoming the Witch King of Angmar. Sauron forged his own ring and with it he bound all the others to his will.
The rhyme of the rings is as follows:
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
This is a VERY brief rundown of the major points I believe are going to be in the upcoming Amazon show. I know that there are plenty of fans who are very skeptical of the series, solely based on the rumoured rating. The movies have all been rated PG-13 or 14A for fantasy violence and gore. The show, however, is supposedly going for a hard TV-MA rating much in the vein of Game of Thrones and Spartacus. I personally don’t want gratuitous nudity and swearing in the show because it feels like a cheap way of drawing in the Game of Thrones fanbase. That being said, regardless of what rating it is, I know I’ll be watching it the day it’s released.
See you all next week!