An unexpected journey

LOTR: Rings of Power is set up to succeed where Game of Thrones failed

Amazon’s prequel series is built to avoid the pitfall that doomed Game of Thrones.

In what can either be attributed to kismet or corporate rivalry, Amazon and HBO both launched big-budget, high-fantasy prequel series within a few weeks of each other. And while the similarities between Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and House of the Dragon are plentiful, another comparison may be even more revealing.

When you think about it, The Rings of Power has much more in common with Game of Thrones. But there’s a key difference: GoT started strong only to end in disappointment, but Amazon’s LOTR prequel is designed to avoid that very same pitfall. Here’s why.

The Rings of Power and Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones’ sprawling cast was hard to keep track of at first.HBO

Introducing audiences to a new fantasy world is tough. When Game of Thrones started, viewers had to juggle dozens of characters with weird-sounding names in weird-sounding locations as the plot veered back and forth across Westeros and beyond. (If it weren’t for my book-reading friend who explained each new episode to me on Monday morning, I would have been totally lost in those early seasons.)

But getting to know a lot of characters all at once can also be a rush. Everyone sets off on exciting new adventures, and the promise that these legendary figures will eventually cross paths is enough to keep you watching. After all, some of the best team-ups and battles in Game of Thrones took years to come to fruition.

The Rings of Power begins on a similar footing. There are a lot of characters to meet (we don’t even get to Numenor in the two-episode premiere), and while you might recognize a few of them from the books or LotR films, most are new inventions. We also have no idea how most of these characters will connect, though some intriguing lines are already being drawn.

Rings of Power’s cast is so big we still haven’t met some of its main characters.Amazon

Like Game of Thrones, it’s unclear who is the main character of this Lord of the Rings prequel. We can’t suspect Rings of Power will murder Galadriel at the end of Season 1 (a la Ned Stark) because her future is already written — but don’t be surprised if the action shifts dramatically as the series continues to expand.

Unlike Game of Thrones, you don’t have to worry about certain characters because we already know how the story ends. And that may be The Rings of Power’s greatest strength.

The Rings of Power vs. Game of Thrones

We already know how Rings of Power will end.New Line Cinema

I’ll cut to the chase. Game of Thrones didn’t know how to end. Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were gifted in taking writer George R.R. Martin’s prose and adapting it to the screen, but when they ran out of runway (and Martin failed to deliver a conclusion of his own), Benioff and Weiss proved incapable of landing the dragon themselves.

The Rings of Power doesn’t have that problem. Assuming the show is a hit, and Amazon lets it play out over a planned five seasons, we know exactly where the series ends: with the creation of the Rings of Power and Sauron’s terrifying rise. Eventually, humans and elves will unite to fight against the Dark Lord and his evil army. How we get there remains a mystery, but the ending itself is set in stone.

Hopefully, that makes it a lot harder to screw this one up.

The Rings of Power airs Fridays at midnight on Amazon Prime Video.

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