Gandalf once said, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” For Amazon Studios, it will spend all of its time in 2022 promoting the new, upcoming, and very expensive Lord of the Rings series for Prime Video.
Today, the journey to the show’s September 2 premiere on Amazon Prime Video begins with its title reveal: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
While there wasn’t much else revealed about the show, the subtitle, The Rings of Power, alone says everything anyone needs to know about it: This is the untold story about the making of the nineteen Great Rings, and the One Ring (to rule them all) from author J.R.R. Tolkien’s enduring literary saga.
Ring Power — The title to Amazon’s Lord of the Rings prequel was announced on January 19, via a lavish one-minute teaser video. Echoing the premise, the teaser depicts the “forging” of the title as a physical sign made of engraved silver metal and redwood.
Accompanying the sign are CGI replications of Middle-earth geography, from the foggy peaks of the Misty Mountains to the volcanic lava of Mount Doom. In a rather literal sense, the video shows how much Tolkien’s world of imagination is all over Amazon’s new project.
You can see the title reveal in the video below.
“This is a title that we imagine could live on the spine of a book next to J.R.R. Tolkien’s other classics,” said series showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay in a press release. “The Rings of Power unites all the major stories of Middle-earth’s Second Age: The forging of the rings, the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron, the epic tale of Númenor, and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.”
Payne and McKay point out that until now, audiences have only seen the forging of Sauron’s ring onscreen. “[B]ut before there was one, there were many... and we’re excited to share the epic story of them all.”
The teaser is narrated to the series’ iconic epigraph, a poem written by Tolkien: “Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,” begins a disembodied female voice. “Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone. Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die. One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne.” (You probably know the rest.)
The Story of the Rings — Before today, there was very little known about the new series except that it will take place in the Second Age — thousands of years before both Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.
Fans have known for a long time the rings were forged in the Second Age; The Silmarillion, a 1977 “textbook” to the universe written by Tolkien (completed by his son Christopher Tolkien and author Guy Gavriel Kay after Tolkien’s death), contained the twenty-page chapter “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age” that broke down the rings’ histories.
But it wasn’t a sure thing that Amazon’s show would actually depict the making of the rings. In January 2021, Rings fan-site TheOneRing.net published the synopsis for the series, which described the show as taking 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 the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness.”
It’s a compelling summary, but nothing outright said the show would chronicle the making of the rings. It’s only through the benefit of hindsight that “great powers were forged” now means something.
The Inverse Analysis — The subtitle The Rings of Power may not strike as hard as anyone would think it should. The repetition of “Rings” in the full title — The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power — is also a bit hard to get around.
But it’s still a straightforward and effective title that gets to the point. It’s about the Rings of Power. And showrunners Payne and McKay are correct to point out that such a title would fit in Tolkien’s era. It’s only because of the towering stature of Tolkien’s stories do titles like Return of the King have weight.
With the subtitle now known to all, what’s also clear is that Amazon’s series has both a clear plot and a final season endgame. (The show is planned for five seasons, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter in 2018.) This could mitigate any concerns fans have about the show, given the still-fresh memories of another recent fantasy epic that ended its serialized story on a really weird note.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will premiere on Prime Video on September 2.