‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’: Is Amazon’s Series Based on a Book?

TL;DR:

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power doesn’t draw directly from one book.
  • The Prime Video prequel chronicles the Second Age described throughout J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings.
  • Some fans aren’t keen on this addition to the Lord of the Rings franchise.
An image from 'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,' which is not adapting a single book. The image shows a man standing in front of a crowd and raising his arms.
Trystan Gravelle in ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ | Courtesy of Prime Video

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power debuts on Prime Video this September, and it promises to expand upon J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth in interesting new ways. The series serves as a prequel to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and it will draw from Tolkien’s writings to deliver its story. But is The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power based on an actual book? The answer to that question is complicated.

What is the ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ about?

To know if The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power tackles the events of a book, fans must first understand what the show will cover. The Prime Video series has already released multiple trailers. And the initial footage verifies what parts of Middle-earth’s vast history it will cover.

The trailers confirm that The Rings of Power is set during the Second Age, thousands of years before Frodo’s journey. This era includes the forging of the Rings of Power, Sauron’s first reign, and several other important events.

Per a press release from Amazon Studios, here’s what the story told in The Rings of Power will look like:

“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 books, 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 one of the greatest villains that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness.”

Although it doesn’t go into specifics, we know from the show’s timeline that Sauron will likely play a heavy role in the darkness threatening Middle-earth. But does The Rings of Power adapt a specific book from J.R.R. Tolkien?

Is ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ based on a book?

Unlike Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power isn’t based on one book or series of novels. Instead, it expands upon details from J.R.R. Tolkien’s stories and appendices.

Tolkien referenced Middle-earth’s Second Age throughout his books, as the events of this time period lead directly into The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. However, the author never penned a novel set during this era.

In addition to mentioning it throughout his other books, Tolkien also outlined the events of the Second Age in his notes. As Screen Rant states, the Prime Video series will pull from such writings when bringing its own story to life. In doing so, it will build on references rather than adapting a single story from cover to cover.

The Rings of Power is also likely to lean heavily on The Silmarillion, which contains tales from Middle-earth’s First Age. Those stories set the stage for the events that make up the show’s Second Age. So, while The Rings of Power will stick to Tolkien’s canon, it will bring fans a story set during a time period they haven’t seen up close before.

Naturally, some Tolkien fans aren’t thrilled about that. The Prime Video prequel has received plenty of criticism since Amazon announced it. Some believe it won’t do justice to the author’s work, expressing concerns about deviation from the source material.

Some fans aren’t thrilled about the Prime Video prequel

Knowing how many diehard fans J.R.R. Tolkien has, it’s probably no surprise that a portion of the fan base isn’t thrilled about Prime Video’s addition to the franchise. The fact that The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power doesn’t adapt a specific book feeds into that.

In a Reddit thread discussing the negative reactions The Rings of Power has spurred, many fans expressed concerns about the show’s deviations from Tolkien’s canon. Although it will cover events outlined by the author himself, new characters and storylines are being added. Additionally, showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay told Vanity Fair they planned to condense the major parts of the Second Age, increasing fans’ worries.

Of course, as TheThings notes, some backlash stems from a more toxic subset of the fandom, which refuses to embrace The Rings of Power‘s diverse casting. And some fans are simply disillusioned after The Hobbit movies, which received much less praise than the original trilogy.

With all that in mind, The Rings of Power may have a hard time winning some viewers over. We’ll have to wait and see what the response looks like when the show finally debuts.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power comes out on Prime Video on Sept. 2, 2022.

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