So much Middle-earth history left to be explored.
Amazon’s Lord of the Rings prequel series may be at least a year from its debut, but the company has begun quietly teasing this highly ambitious, highly expensive project. A series of tweets from the official “The Lord of the Rings on Prime” Twitter account offer a few subtle clues as to when the series might take place and what pieces of J.R.R. Tolkien’s lore the series will focus on.
Little by little, that account has been filling in a map of Middle-earth while quoting portions of the iconic “Ring Verse” that details the creation of Sauron’s Rings of Power. Based on these clues and previous rumors about the series, here are a few things you can probably expect to see in this prequel series.
Update: Amazon’s latest tweet fills in more areas of the map, offering a much better and different idea of what the series will be about. Scroll down to see why the new series will likely take place about 1000 years before the events of the movies.
The Third Age
While previously Amazon’s map of Middle-earth seemed to indicate the series would be set in the Second Age, the newest version seems to point more firmly toward the Third Age. Specifically, roughly 2000 years after Sauron’s original defeat and 1000 years before the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
The revised map adds several key Middle-earth landmarks, including Sauron’s fortress of Barad-dûr, Gondorian cities including Minas Ithil, Minas Anor, and Osgiliath and the fortress of Amon Sûl. The fact that Gondor is clearly a major power tells us the show is set in the Third Age, not the Second, but some of these names seem to confirm a much earlier time period than a “Young Aragorn” series would allow for.
For instance, Minas Ithil is better known in the movies as Minas Morgul, the ethereal city populated by the Nazgûl and an army of orcs that Frodo, Sam and Gollum pass by on their journey to Mount Doom. Minas Ithil became Minas Morgul when it was invaded by the Witch-king. At that point, the Gondorians fled the city and retreated to Minas Ithil, renaming the city Minas Tirith. As for Amon Sûl, that was the former name of Weathertop, the ruined fortress where Aragorn and the Hobbits make their stand against the Nazgûl in Fellowship of the Ring.
These names all strongly suggest the series will be set in the middle of the Third Age and chronicle the war between Gondor and the Witch-king of Angmar. As fans of the LotR trilogy surely remember, the Witch-king is the leader of the Nazgûl and one of the nine human kings corrupted by Sauron’s rings of power. In the Middle-earth timeline, the Witch-king resurfaces about 1000 years after Sauron’s original defeat. He takes up residence in the northern kingdom of Angmar and begins waging war on nearby territories, sparking centuries of conflict.
In this period, Sauron is still a long way from beginning to regain his full power and taking physical form, but the Witch-king and the other Nazgûl are more than capable of wreaking chaos in his absence. It’s very likely that Amazon’s prequel series will chronicle the tail-end of this war, as the Nazgûl press their advantage and claim one of the key cities of Gondor.
The Main Characters
Assuming the series is set during this period, we can probably expect a cast of mostly new characters. The series will probably focus on Aragorn’s predecessors like Prince Eärnur of Gondor and elven heroes like Glorfindel (who in the books was the one who rescued Frodo from the Nazgûl, not Arwen).
That said, the door is certainly open for familiar faces to appear. This era is far enough in the Middle-earth timeline that Gandalf and his fellow wizards are active. We’re still hopeful we may see the mysterious Blue Wizards play a role in the series (more on that below). There are also immortal characters like Elrond who could easily appear as the story demands.
And we’re not quite ready to discount the rumors of the show focusing on a younger Aragorn just yet. It’s still entirely possible that the series will divide its focus between Aragorn’s origin and extended flashbacks to this earlier era. The destruction of Minas Ithil and the downfall of Gondor is directly relevant to Aragorn’s own journey toward becoming king.
Head to page 2 to see our original theories regarding the plot and setting of the Lord of the Rings prequel series.