Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings series is just around the corner and we cannot wait. Part of that anticipation comes from knowing so little about the show. We know they’re currently filming in New Zealand. (The same country where Peter Jackson filmed his Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies.) We also know the series is set in the Second Age of Middle-earth. J.R.R. Tolkien’s mythical world is about to open itself to a brand new generation of fans, and there are so many incredible possibilities.
There are also a few things to keep in mind heading in. For starters, Amazon only has the right to Second Age events and characters as they appear in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings. From what I understand, that means we won’t be getting stuff from The Silmarillion. (Unless those events also appear in the appendices.) It’s all a bit tricky and I’m not positive I have it totally figured out. You can read more of a breakdown of how the rights will likely work in our explainer here.
With that in mind, I’ve assembled some of the major events from the Second Age that will almost definitely appear. This is mostly based on information listed in the official synopsis for the series. I’ve also sprinkled in some other events from the appendices that could make it into the show. Let’s dig in.
The official synopsis
Before we get started, let’s take a look at the official synopsis for Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings series. This gives us a general idea of where to begin and contains some other story clues as well.
Amazon Studios’ forthcoming series brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. 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, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.
It’s a bit long, but it’s full of important insight that will help us determine what we could see in the show. And help us set our expectations.
The construction of Barad-dûr
The synopsis makes it pretty clear that Sauron is going to be a big deal in the show. Not that there’s any way he couldn’t be. Sauron is the Big Bad of the Second Age. (And the Third Age, too.) His rise to power—after some gnarly events in the First Age—will definitely factor into the plot. The synopsis also states that the series begins in a time of “relative peace.” That means things kick into gear before Sauron’s threat is widely known. So what was he doing behind the scenes during that time? Building his evil fortress, of course.
We’d love to see the show depict the construction of Barad-dûr. Even casual fans will recognize the tower: it’s the same one that contains Sauron’s eye in The Lord of the Rings. The fearsome fortress was the nastiest in the land since the fall of Angband. It’d be a treat to see such an iconic structure come to life.
The forging of the Rings of Power
The Second Age is also when the Rings of Power came into existence. Sauron, looking to control the beings of Middle-earth, transformed himself into a handsome Elvish-looking guy named Annatar, or “The Lord of Gifts.” As Annatar, Sauron befriended the Elven-smiths of Eregion and taught their leader, Celebrimbor, how to forge powerful rings. While Celebrimbor went about creating these rings, Sauron went back to Mordor and secretly created his own “master” ring. This one, now known as the One Ring, would control all of the others.
Unfortunately for Sauron, the Elves caught onto his plan and hid their three most powerful rings. In his rage, Sauron killed Celebrimbor and attacked the Elves. He was able to snatch up the other sixteen rings, which he gifted to the mortal Dwarves and Men, thinking them easier to control. The rings had little effect on the Dwarves, but the Men were indeed easily corrupted. Which brings us to…
The origins of the Nazgûl
Sauron gave nine of the rings to some of the most revered Men in Middle-earth. Using the One Ring, he was able to corrupt them, promising wealth and power. When wearing the rings, the Men were rendered invisible to others. This enslaved them to the will of Sauron; their lives and power were bound with the One Ring. They became known as the Nazgûl, or Ringwraiths. You may recognize them from Peter Jackson’s film trilogy as the hooded riders hunting Frodo. The leader of the Nazgûl, the Witch-king of Angmar, is the one Eowyn slays in The Return of the King.
If we see the Rings of Power in Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings series, we’ll almost definitely see the origins of the Ringwraiths. This would provide even more visual synergy between the films and the show.
Life in Khazad-dum
The synopsis references the “darkest depths of the Misty Mountains” as a location we’ll see in the series. This is almost definitely a reference to Khazad-dûm, otherwise known as Moria. This underground kingdom thrived in the Second Age, as a home of the Dwarves. The aforementioned region of Eregion, led by Celebrimbor, neighbored Moria, and the Elves and Dwarves of these realms had a harmonious friendship.
But when Sauron attacked the Elves and killed Celebrimbor, the Dwarves shut the gates of Khazad-dûm. They later (accidentally) unleashed a Balrog that wiped away most of their population and would later kill Gandalf. I’m pretty positive Khazad-dûm will factor into the show based on the synopsis, and I can’t wait to see it before its darker days.
Gil-galad and Lindon
The synopsis also directly mentions Lindon. The Elf king Gil-galad founded a kingdom in this Western land in the Second Age. You might recognize Lindon if you’ve seen Peter Jackson’s films. The Elves built the Grey Havens there; it’s the passageway to the Undying Lands, where Frodo departs Middle-earth in The Return of the King. In the Second Age, many famous Elves dwelled there, including Elrond and Galadriel. (Galadriel and Celeborn brought many Elves from Lindon to Eriador in the Second Age, as well.)
Sauron, disguised as Annatar, came to Lindon to meet with the Elves. Both Gil-galad and Elrond sensed that he was not what he seemed, so they denied him. Their suspicions were, of course, proven true. When Sauron led the attack on Eregion, Elrond led forces from Lindon to come to their aid. At this time, Gil-galad also called on another kingdom for help…
The rise and fall of Númenor
I won’t go too in-depth about Númenor in this piece, since we have a pretty detailed history of its rise and fall over here. Suffice it to say, Númenor will undoubtedly play a huge role in Amazon’s Lord of the Rings show. It’s mentioned in the synopsis, and it’s really the main event of the Second Age. The Valar gifted the island, which they rose of the Great Sea, to the Men after a war with the Dark Lord Morgoth. The Men of Nûmenor—who are also known as the Dúnedain—thrived on the island for many years.
But then Sauron got involved. He convinced the Númenóreans that they’d have ultimate power and everlasting life if they worshipped Morgoth. Their king at that time, Ar-Pharazôn, fell under Sauron’s influence. He erected a statue to Morgoth on Númenor and later led a march against the Valar to seize the Undying Lands. This all went very badly for the Númenóreans. Supreme deity Eru Ilúvatar sank the kingdom beneath the sea, killing its people and costing Sauron his physical form.
The Men who stayed faithful to the Valar escaped Númenor and established the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor in Middle-earth. Aragorn, one of the central figures in The Lord of the Rings, descends from these Men. That means we’ll almost definitely see Aragorn’s family origins in the Amazon show.
War of the Last Alliance
Amazon’s Lord of the Rings show is set to run for five seasons. (That is, if the first two— which are for sure happening—are successful.) I have no idea how the writers plan to chop up the Second Age, or how much ground they’ll cover. Everything above is purely speculative. But I have to imagine, should the show make it to the fifth season, it will all end with the War of the Last Alliance. It’s the last big showdown before the Third Age.
We actually see snippets of this war in the prologue of The Fellowship of the Ring. It takes place after Númenor sinks, and after Sauron retreated to Mordor to once again regain power. There, he discovered that Elendil—one of the faithful Men of Númenor and Sauron’s major enemy—escaped the island’s destruction. A big war broke out between Sauron and his Mordor goons and an alliance of Elves, Dwarves, and Men. Sauron killed Gil-galad and Elendil during the final battle. But Elendil’s son—Isildur—used the shards of his father’s sword to slice the One Ring from Sauron’s hand and defeat him.
Temporarily at least. All of this is the lead-up to the events of The Lord of the Rings. And therefore a great spot to end Amazon’s show. There are so many other Second Age events and locations that could appear in the series. But these are the things I definitely expect to see. Again, if the show manages to last long enough. Let’s hope it does! I’m one of the optimistic people who thinks it has the potential to be great. But of course, only time will tell.