The news that Amazon is creating a Lord of the Rings television series has been seriously skimpy on details, save “for new story lines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring.”
One suspects their streaming service wants to recreate the monster success of HBO’s A Game of Thrones by going back to the original mega-fantasy. And that may be a fine decision, especially if Amazon delves into some of the epic tales hinted at in the appendixes of LotR. So much happens before Bilbo finds that ring. (Heck, before Gollum finds that ring.) Yes, some of our iconic cast members may need to be replaced for this series. But there is plenty of room for new characters to make their mark as well.
Here’s what I’d like to see from Amazon:
Note: Since the press releases said Lord of the Rings, not The Silmarillion, and it’s unclear where some rights for some stories may fall, I’m avoiding storylines from The Silmarillion, though I’d dearly love to see The Fall of Gondolin.
The Tale of Arvedui Last-King/Fall of the Witch-King of Angmar
In a tale of the fall of the Northern kingdom, this is the one series I’d most like to see, as it offers some incredible moments: Arvedui, the prophesied Last King (Indeed, after him, there were also no more Kings in Gondor), fighting against an overpowering and implacable foe. Firiel, the daughter of the South who married him and entered the struggle. The general King Eärnil of Gondor, who allied with Círdan the Shipwright and others to finally drive the Witch-King out, though too late for Arvedui, and the arrogance ofEärnur, last King of Gondor.
There’s room to create an incredible cast around this struggle against the Witch-King’s destruction of the northern Kingdom, especially room for some original Dúnedain characters. Add in the tension between North and South, and you have political machinations as well. It might also be interesting to cast the Northern Kingdom as people of color, as the North already seems to be looked down on by the South (especially by choosing Eärnil over Arvedui to rule them.) That would add diversity to Tolkien’s world and a real tension between the white southerners who feel superior and the northern people of color, who are doing most of the fighting.
If you want to get many seasons out of this northern struggle, start with the Witch-King’s rise. That might take you through generations, to the eventual final confrontation.
Strider in the Wilderness
We know Aragorn son of Arathorn spent many years in the wilderness with the Dúnedain and on great journeys, after being raised in the House of Elrond. We don’t know many details, leaving the writers room to play in Middle Earth either in the North when Aragorn was a young man and, later, to all corners of Middle Earth. But there is one particular storyline that I’d love to see: Aragorn in Rohan and Gondor as Thorongil, The Eagle of the Star, and his rivalry with Denethor, later Steward of Gondor, as each strove to help preserve the city from Sauron’s constant attacks, even back then.
This series could end with Aragorn finding Arwen Evenstar again and them pledging themselves to each other, even with the coming war.
The Battles of Éomer & Elessar To the Sea of Rhun
Post-Return of the King events in the South remains incompletely chronicled, save that King Elessar ruled a kingdom united that saw unusual cooperation between men, elves, and dwarves, and that Elessar and Éomer often fought together, even to the Sea ofRhûn.
Rebuilding is never easy, and there must have been tensions among these groups, among even among the upper classes in Gondor who may have view Elessar as an outsider, and, of course, the mourning of the many dead who lost their lives to save their lands. A series could mix familiar characters with original ones, and viewers might finally meet Eldarion, the son of Elessar and Arwen, and those frustratingly unnamed daughters. Plus, we just might get to see more Éowyn and how she manages to create a marriage of equals with Faramir.
The Battle Of Dale
While the main thrust of Sauron was at Gondor, Dale was under siege during the War of the Rings, especially after King Dain Ironfoot refused Sauron’s emissary. An army of Easterlings sent by Sauron attacked Dale, only to be opposed by armies led by the venerable King Dain Ironfoot and King Brand of Dale (the grandson of Bard the Archer who killed Smaug). Both kings fell in the siege but managed to hold out long enough for Sauron to be destroyed, which caused the Easterlings to lose heart and so they were driven away.
This is a chance to see the War of the Rings from an entirely new perspective and heroes who are sometimes forgotten in the vast scope of the war. It also provides plenty of room for original characters, as the only named characters are Brand and his son, Bard, along with Dain and a few other dwarves. The One Wiki to Rule Them All informs me that there may have been two blue wizards involved in this part of the war, and that’s an intriguing nugget to create a story around too.
The Tale of Celebrimbor and How He Forged the Rings
Celebrimbor, grandson of the great and tragic Fëanor, is a tragic figure, an immensely talented smith and metal worker, possessed of the magic of high elves. He settled in the Second Age in Eregion and into a partnership with the dwarves of Moria. He’s also the one who created the three elven rings of power that Sauron was never able to obtain.
It appears from the text that he was not deceived by Sauron’s appearance in his lands but many of the other smiths were, leading to Sauron (in disguise) to gain influence that allowed him to forge the One Ring of Power in secret. Celebrimbor as the protagonist, working against a charismatic villain to a tragic ending would make for great storytelling.
Rohan–The Fall of Helm & Defeat of His Foes
When I was a teenager, I poured over the indexes and appendixes in Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. No story was more compelling than the founding of Rohan and the ups and downs of its kingdom and, among those kings, none is more fascinating than Helm Hammerhead, that Helm’s deep is named after.
Because, at 50, Helm became king but civil war threatened with a wealthy landowner who was allied with Rohan’s enemies, the Dunlendings. Not only did Helm die during this war but so did his two sons, separately. Then there’s the legend that Helm’s ghost haunted the Dunlendings after the stubborn king froze to death in the siege of Helm’s deep. (I can only picture Ian McShane as Helm, here, ferocious and unrelenting.)
But the saga of Helm has something of a happy ending, as his nephew, Fréaláf Hildeson, survived the siege and led his army to defeat the Dunlendings, starting a new line of Kings of Rohan. Plenty of room to create original characters, this story already has villains in place, and practically screams for battle sequences.
So what’s your choice for a Lord of the Rings television show?