Although we’ve known for quite awhile that Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings television series would take place in the Second Age of Middle-earth, the service finally made it clear with a general synopsis of the upcoming program (via theonering.net). Spearheaded by J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, the show concerns itself with “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.”
We’ll go ahead and put our Tolkien scholar hat on here to note the villain they are referring to is Sauron, the titular Lord of the Rings, and not the true greatest foe in J.R.R. Tolkien‘s legendarium, Morgoth. In the First Age of Middle-earth, Sauron served him and even started Morgoth cults after the Great Powers cast the immortal creature into the Void. Tolkien once observed that compared with Sauron, Morgoth’s ring would be the totality of the world. That said, Sauron’s insidiousness may make him a greater threat than Morgoth, who was a much more direct and easily identified malevolence.
Amazon notes the series will begin in a time of peace — we’re going to assume a few hundred or so years after Morgoth’s defeat and the end of the First Age — as “an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new,” confront “the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth.” The program sounds ambitious as it promises to cover terrain as vast as “the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor,” and “the furthest reaches of the map” in its quest to tell of legends heard only in song by the time of Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring. Indeed, the maps Amazon revealed early on featured such details as Númenor, the unspoiled version of Mirkwood forest, and a curious geographical detail to the far east of Middle-earth; suggesting the series may involve settlements of Man long under the thrall of Sauron.
The program will star Robert Aramayo, Owain Arthur, Nazanin Boniadi, Tom Budge, Morfydd Clark, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Ema Horvath, Markella Kavenagh, Joseph Mawle, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Megan Richards, Dylan Smith, Charlie Vickers, Daniel Weyman and a host of others. Mawle is said to be playing the principle antagonist, although it is still unclear if this means Sauron, who still had a physical form at this time, or one of his chief lieutenants.
While the pilot has been completed, production on the rest of the first season (and the second!) is set to begin in New Zealand later this month.