When Is ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ Set?

TL;DR:

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is a prequel story set in the Second Age.
  • The Prime Video series will likely take place around 5,000 years ahead of Frodo’s story.
  • The Rings of Power pulls from J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings about Middle-earth.
Morfydd Clark and Fabian McCallum in 'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,' which is set when the Second Age took place. The two are standing amid a snowy landscape. There's a sword sticking out of the ground.
Morfydd Clark and Fabian McCallum in ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ | Prime Video

The release date for Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is rapidly approaching, with a new trailer for the prequel arriving earlier this week. The show will return J.R.R. Tolkien fans to Middle-earth, but its story will unfold long before Frodo Baggins’ (Elijah Wood) quest to destroy the One Ring. So, when exactly is The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power set?

What is ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ about? The Prime Video series is a prequel

The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power will cover the time period leading up to the events of Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy. However, it will feature different struggles in Middle-earth’s history — and highlight how the Rings of Power were originally forged. It will also chronicle Sauron’s first reign of terror. Although The Fellowship of the Ring opens with Sauron’s initial rule coming to an end, fans haven’t seen what came before.

According to a press release from Amazon Studios, a group of “unlikely heroes” will face the darkness Sauron brings about. Here’s part of Amazon’s synopsis for the upcoming show:

“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.”

From the casting announcements and trailers, fans know a young Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) will be part of that ensemble. Other familiar faces might show up as well, assuming their lifespans are on par with the Elves’. Although The Rings of Power leads into the events of the main trilogy, it’s set well before it. So, when does the prequel take place?

When is ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ set?

With its focus on the forging of the Rings of Power, Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings prequel is set during the Second Age. This is the time period right before The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which is set in the Third Age. According to Entertainment Weekly, it spans thousands of years (3,441 to be exact). This era starts with Morgoth’s downfall and ends with Sauron losing the One Ring to Isildur.

Showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay told Vanity Fair they’ll be compressing the Second Age a bit, as covering thousands of years of content would come with some pretty massive obstacles.

“If you are true to the exact letter of the law, you are going to be telling a story in which your human characters are dying off every season because you’re jumping 200 years in time, and then you’re not meeting really big, important canon characters until season 4,” Payne explained.

As for how much time passes between the show and the movies, Screen Rant notes that The Rings of Power likely takes place around 5,000 years before Frodo’s journey. It all depends on when the the prequel opens. But wherever it begins, it’s safe to say the human characters from Peter Jackson’s movies won’t be around. However, beings like Elves have much longer lifespans — so, some of them may show up in this story.

The Prime Video prequel pulls from J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings

It’s interesting that The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is set during the Second Age because none of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels take place during that time period. Of course, fans still know plenty about it. Tolkien was meticulous about his world-building and history, mentioning the events of the Second Age in his books and outlining them in detail in appendices.

As such, dedicated Tolkien fans have an idea of what they can expect from The Rings of Power — even if it takes some liberties. We’ll have to wait and see how it turns Tolkien’s notes into a fully fledged story. Hopefully, it does the author’s fantasy world justice.

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

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