I enjoy speculating a lot. Especially when we still know very little about the thing I’m speculating about. It’s always fun when something I predicted ends up happening. And when it doesn’t, that’s fine too. It’s just fun.
Recently in the news, you may have heard that Amazon is creating a Lord of the Rings series. Details are scarce, but we know that it’s a prequel series to The Fellowship of the Ring, has the potential for multiple spin-offs, and we also know that they have the cooperation of the Tolkien Estate. What we don’t know is whether it will be canonical with the Peter Jackson films, or if they will be their own thing.
Lord of the Rings-based Ideas
So what will it be about? That’s the subject of this writing. I have a few ideas, though some will depend on whether cooperation with the Tolkien Estate means that they have access to the Silmarillion. I’m guessing they do, and I’ve added those options further below, but if they don’t, here are some other options that they might use:
Adventures of Aragorn
If the creators only have access to the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit as their source material, then I think this is the most likely story they could take. The Adventures of Aragorn, his interactions with Gandalf, his adventures in tracking down Gollum following the events of The Hobbit, his meeting of Arwen, and just general stories about Rangers in the world of the Lord of the Rings.
There would, by necessity, need to be a lot of original plot invented for such a TV show, but Aragorn is such a compelling character, that it would be interesting to see an origin story based on the Ranger. Naturally, this would likely exist outside of Jackson canon, since it’s unlikely that any of the LOTR actors would return for a TV show.
War in the West
There’s a lot of backstory mentioned in the Lord of the Rings that could definitely work as a TV series. The Barrow-whites (from the books, they weren’t in the movies) are some of the remnants from these early wars that involved the Witch King. Remember Weathertop, the hill where Frodo got stabbed by the Witch King? Well that was a remnant of those early wars as well. It would certainly be a good Game-of-Thrones-esc feudal period to work with.
An Original Show
I actually think this is a likely idea. What if the story has little or nothing to do with established plot lines developed by Tolkien, and instead is simply set in the world of Middle-earth? It’s an option. They’ve done something similar with the Shadows of Mordor video game series. It fits within Lord of the Rings canon, but is not a plot that Tolkien invented.
Now, the above ideas are things they could do with nothing but the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit to go on. Now it’s worth noting that the show is described as a prequel to Fellowship of the Ring, not The Hobbit. This is an interesting choice of words. Does that mean that the show happens sometime between the two? I don’t think so. I think FOTR was picked specifically for marketing reasons. Hobbit wasn’t as well received by critics, so it makes sense that they would shift the focus to Fellowship. So let’s just assume for now that the series could take place at any time before FOTR.
An Anthology Silmarillion Series
In my honest opinion, this would be the only way they could do the whole Silmarillion, by marketing it as an anthology series, where each season is a new story. That way each season could focus on something new (The beginnings of Middle-Earth, Beren and Luthien, the Children of Hurin, the Fall of Gondolin, etc.)But anthology series are tricky, since they don’t have many recurring characters and the format gives audiences plenty of stopping points between seasons, risking a loss of viewship. The only common theme between them would be Morgoth and his evil-doings in Middle-earth.
That said, I think this one is a bit unlikely. I think it’s more likely that they will focus on a specific story within the Silmarillion, then expand to other stories with other spin-off TV shows. Believe me, they’re going to want to milk this cash cow for all its worth. And more than one series means more money than one anthology series.
And that brings me to the idea that I really think is going to happen…
This is what I hearby predict the Amazon series will be about. Numenor, aka the kingdom of men that Aragorn is descended from. Of all the stories in the Silmarillion, this is the one that relates closest to The Lord of the Rings. Numenor is an island, the Tolkien-version of Atlantis. It’s a prosperous island that eventually sinks into the sea when men decide to rebel and try to sail west to the land of the Ainur (aka Middle-earth’s “gods” essentially). And guess who convinced them to do that? You guessed it: Sauron. Sauron is in it, getting his start as a ring maker.
And you know who else is in it? Elendil and Isildur, the kings of men that we see in the Lord of the Rings prologue. The ones responsible for defeating Sauron the first time, with the help of the Elves. This story could also serve as a way of introducing the Ainur, which would open the doors for spin-off series about their rise to power, and their most powerful brother-turned villain, Morgoth. So basically, this series could outline the rise and fall of Numenor, as well as the original rise and fall of Sauron.
Also, I should point out that there might be a chance they could make this series even without rights to the Silmarillion since it’s briefly outlined in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings. That makes me even more certain that this will be the setting of the Amazon series.
Of course, a lot of this depends on the status of film rights for the Silmarillion. But it’s just fun to speculate. Let me know in the comments what you think they will do. Do you agree with any of these ideas, or do you think it will be something completely different? I replay to comments, so let’s keep this conversation going!