The One Ring

Lord of the Rings Will Finally Show One of Its Most Unexplored Wars

Get ready to ride.

Karl Urban as Éomer in 'The Two Towers.'
New Line Cinema

In the second Lord of the Rings book, The Two Towers, the battle against dark forces in Middle-earth gets a heroic boost from one very specific cavalry,: the Riders of Rohan. But these noble warriors on horseback were first etched into our brains by Peter Jackson’s 2002 film adaptation, in which the Riders of Rohan were led by Éomer, as played by Karl Urban.

But, how did the Riders of Rohan come to be? Why is this specific territory so crucial to understanding the history of Middle-earth? A new Lord of the Rings prequel film, coming December 13, 2024, will elucidate the history of Rohan like never before. Here’s why The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim will crystalize details about the history of what will become the most important of all of Tolkien’s armies.

Unlike The Rings of Power, the timeline of The War of the Rohirrim is a little easier to grasp, relative to the time frame of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Instead of thousands of years before the adventures of Bilbo and Frodo, The War of the Rohirrim is set 183 years before the start of The Fellowship of the Ring. And the war that's referred to in that title is a moment where Rohan is attacked on two fronts at the same time. In Appendix B in The Return of the King, we know that in 2758 (in Middle-earth years) that: “Rohan attacked from west and east and overrun.”

However, the events of The War of the Rohirrim are a little bit before the final reign of King Helm Hammerhand, so the true nature of this war is mostly internal, a battle within Rohan itself. As producer Philippa Boyens told Entertainment Weekly, because details about this conflict are vague, this allowed the new film to basically invent new characters to fit into the events outlined in the appendices.

Tolkien never gave this character a name, but now we know, it’s Hera.

EW/Warner Bros

“We know Helm has a daughter, and we know that she was central to the conflict that happened,” Boyens said. “But myself, and especially screenwriter Phoebe Gittins, were drawn to her. We could feel the weight of being that unnamed daughter, which immediately piqued our interest: Who was she? How did she live?”

In the upcoming anime movie, this character is Hèra (Gaia Wise) the daughter of Helm Hammerhand. While the name “Helm” is probably familiar to fans because of the battle of Helm’s Deep, the name “Hammerhand” exists because this powerful king of Rohan could defeat people with his bare hands, like a super-powered human in Middle-earth. Why other Riders of Rohan don’t have this same power in the future, and why Helm’s reign ended is, specifically, one of the questions the movie is determined to answer. Again speaking to EW, director Kenji Kamiyama makes it clear that in telling this specific story in Rohan’s past, some aspects of its future will be more explicable.

“Why did his lineage have to end with him?” Kamiyama says. “I think there is a lesson in hubris there and also for a need for responsibility and awareness in their power.”

Éowyn will narrate the new Lord of the Rings anime, The War of the Rohirrim.

New Line Cinema

Because of its location in the timeline, a ton of cameos from other Lord of the Rings characters aren’t likely. However, because this movie will help to explain why the culture of Rohan is the way it is, the entire story will be narrated by Éowyn, the shield-maiden who defeats the Witch King in The Return of the King. In The War of the Rohirrim, Éowyn will be voiced by Miranda Otto, who, of course, played Éowyn in The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003). This means that however distant this war is from the memories of the Riders of Rohan in the trilogy, everything that happens here will help to shape them.

Without the Riders of Rohan, Saruman couldn't have been defeated, and Aragorn wouldn’t have had enough backup at the Battle of the Morannon. The people of Rohan are essential to the endgame of The Lord of the Rings, and this year, we’ll get a much better understanding as to why.

The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim hits theaters on December 13, 2024.

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