Lease this WebApp and get rid of the ads.
Amazon making Middle-earth TV series.
Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:05am

It's official: Amazon will be making a Middle-earth TV series. But it's not going to be The Lord of the Rings; the press release is very clear that they're looking elsewhere for their stories:

"We... are thrilled to be taking The Lord of the Rings fans on a new epic journey in Middle Earth.”

“We are delighted that Amazon, with its longstanding commitment to literature, is the home of the first-ever multi-season television series for The Lord of the Rings,” said Matt Galsor, a representative for the Tolkien Estate and Trust and HarperCollins. “Sharon and the team at Amazon Studios have exceptional ideas to bring to the screen previously unexplored stories based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s original writings.”

Set in Middle Earth, the television adaptation will explore new storylines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien’sThe Fellowship of the Ring.

(Emphasis mine.)

So what story are they planning to tell? Something that precedes the War of the Ring - if we take them at their word, something that precedes Bilbo's famous party. I have seen a comment that it "must be" something from Silm/UT, since the Tolkien Estate doesn't have the movie rights to Hobbit/LotR any more and therefore wouldn't have been involved, but I think that's probably wrong - the TV rights look likely to be separate to the film ones. So what will it be? In lieu of actual information, here are my top five guesses for what they could do.

(The honorary 6th place goes to 'The Hobbit', and the connected story of the Fall of Erebor. It would fit the bill, but I don't think it's likely. Not so soon after the movies.)

5: The Silmarillion

To be clear: the only way Amazon have gotten hold of the Silm is by tying Christopher Tolkien to a tree and running away giggling. But it's going to be the title on everyone's lips, so I thought I'd best discuss it.

The Silm would make a great 'Game of Elven Thrones' series. You could do the Fall of the Noldor, with all that delicious infighting; or you could start at the Dagor Bragollach, and focus your series on the collapse of Beleriand. The big downside is that there's no protagonist - not unless you go super dark and make a Sons of Feanor series (yikes). The best other option would be to start very late - with the Battle of Unnumbered Tears. Then you can focus on the tales of Turin and Tuor, and feed into the Fall of Gondolin and Doriath.

Things to look out for: Dark & brooding Turin, cameos by Galadriel and Sauron, significantly enhanced roles for the women (which isn't a bad thing; Melian and Idril could do a lot in their respective stories).

Potential spinoff: 'Beren and Luthien' is probably the best option, if they start at the Nirnaeth. It's backstory for Elwing, and also a neatly self-contained story. Also it has its own book these days, so bonus!

Chance of happening: Snowball in Orodruin.

4: The Fall of Numenor

This is a good one, because it ties directly into the LotR story. The One Ring, Sauron, the Nazgul - all the baddies we know and hate are around. It has Elendil and Isildur, and multiple huge battles - the capture of Sauron, the fall itself, the War of the Last Alliance. There is a partial movie treatment by Helge Fauskanger of Ardalambion that shows how it could look.

But... it's all from the Silm and Unfinished Tales, so see previous comments about Christopher Tolkien. I think he'd be more likely to let go of this one, since Numenor has always stood a little apart from the main body of the legendarium. But not by much.

Things to look out for: Pharazon's fall to the dark as an early plotline. Significant buildup of Isildur (of "'s Heir" fame) at the expense of his family. Thranduil played as close to being Legolas as possible. Worryingly suspect interpretation of 'Black Numenoreans'.

Potential spinoff: 'Aldarion and Erendis' is a Numenor story from Unfinished Tales, but it's a bit bleak. It might be better to tap into the Shadow of Spinoff fanbase and do the fall of Eregion, with Celebrimbor.

Chance of happening: Roughly equal to that of a ship making it through the Shadowy Seas to Valinor.

3: The Rise of Rohan

An excellent story to tell. It uses locations we already know (Gondor, Rohan), lets you use orcs as the villains, and doesn't have too much magic to strain the budget. It's also partly from the Appendices, with the rest being in Unfinished Tales - CT's iron grip on the Silm wouldn't have to slacken an inch. And the Ride of Eorl would be fantastic.

The big problem? It's not a long story. Orcs attack western Gondor - Cirion the Steward calls for aid - it looks like it won't come - it comes. It would work as a standalone film or single season, not as a multi-season epic.

Things to look out for: Eorl Lord of the Mark and Cirion Steward of Gondor as our two protagonists. Also Eorl's suspiciously Eowyn-esque female costar.

Potential spinoff: Probably another story from the histories of Gondor and Rohan. The Kinstrife in Gondor would be good, as would the time of Helm Hammerhand in Rohan (so long as he doesn't turn into a Ringwraith...).

Chance of happening: What's the chance of a messenger to the Mark making it both there and back? Roughly that.

2: The Strider

Assuming we take them at their literal word, this is the most likely option. Aragorn's youth lets you visit all the lands we already know, explore his romance with Arwen, and (since it takes place between The Hobbit and LotR) watch the buildup of Sauron's forces prior to the War of the Ring.

The big problem? There's no war. The Misty Mountains were cleared out by the Beornings, and Mordor and Isengard didn't march to open war until LotR. The only way you could get pitched battles is by taking the story down to Harad to fight the Corsairs of Umbar. (Or by just making stuff up, I guess...)

Things to look out for: Cameos from young versions of every member of the Fellowship or other significant LotR character, except Gandalf (who will make occasional appearances as a mentor figure) and Legolas (who legions of fanwriters have shown us will be Aragorn's bestie).

Potential spinoff: I would love to see them jump to a completely different genre and make a lighthearted comedy about Bilbo trying to raise his young cousin Frodo. Oh, the hijinks that would ensue...!

Chance of happening: The odds of a Ranger of the North finding the right path.

1: The Fall of Arnor

This... would be perfect. I've previously written a brief treatment of how this could be made as a film trilogy (Middle-earth: Fall of Kings), and it would work just as well as a series - perhaps even better, as you wouldn't have to chop the story up as much to get it to fit.

It's the tale of the fall of the North Kingdom before the Witch-King of Angmar. It has romance, betrayal, politics, war, nemeses, stupid heroes and scheming villains, and even a dose of prophecy. It even has hobbits - the only item on this list to canonically include them. Finally, it draws exclusively on the Appendices, so no need to crack open UT.

Things to look out for: Gandalf and Legolas cameos, along with at least one hobbit named Baggins for Gandalf to chat to. An Arvedui-Firiel-Earnil love triangle. And, for Season One only, the tragically doomed King Ondoher of Gondor and his sons.

Potential spinoff: Anything from the Rohan section would work (or the Rohan story itself), but I'd pin my money on the division of Arnor into three. It's written as fairly amicable in the books, but you could easily spin a war out of it. Alternately, the fall of Cardolan takes place a few hundred years before this time, and would be stuffed full of hobbits.

Chance of happening: Same as the chance of a prophecy being accurate. "Not by the hand of man will he fall..."

So that's me, but I bet I've missed something super obvious. So what is it?


    • Much, MUCH bigger news!Huinesoron, Wed Nov 15 12:56pm
      Christopher Tolkien has resigned as director of the Tolkien Estate . This was a genuine, out-loud "Oh my God" moment for me (one of... about three that I remember having ever , in a fandom context).... more
      • Does this mean, First Age: Total War is possible?darklordaakmal, Thu Nov 16 8:09am
        Granted, there aren't that many wars in First Age of the Sun, but Total War is about making your own history.
        • "Aren't that many wars"Huinesoron, Thu Nov 16 8:46am
          -The First Battle in Beleriand (precedes the rise of the Sun, but is considered the start of the Wars of the Jewels; Morgoth's attack on Doriath after his return). -Dagor-nuin-Giliath (also preceding ... more
          • More! More! MORE!!! Mwahahahahah!!!darklordaakmal, Fri Nov 17 5:07am
            It may be a lot like Attila: Total War. The Sons of FEanor were in a very good position besieging Angband. However as more of Morgoth's army are pushing out of Angband, and fertility/prosperity... more
            • A little ahistory for you.Huinesoron, Fri Nov 17 7:26am
              This is a rough composite of Beleriand and the lands to the east immediately prior to the Bragollach, divided into each race's 'natural' areas. Much earlier than this, and you lose the proper placing ... more
              • 'unbeatable through weight of numbers'Hardric, Fri Nov 17 12:21pm
                hS, that's pretty much offering a challenge to players to 'do the impossible' (and reminds me of a AoM player who was fairly close of defeating Chronos without Gaia ... ;) ).
                • I still think it could work.Huinesoron, Fri Nov 17 2:21pm
                  I put my fixed defences too far from the pit, which meant they didn't really come into play; and I didn't stockpile enough food (I think the only renewable resource). I also probably wasted too much... more
                  • Never doubted you could do that.Hardric, Fri Nov 17 3:22pm
                    The wink had more to do with the fact I'd like to see you post a new, successful, attempt of taking down Chronos without needing his Mom to send him to bed without dinner. Simples indeed. Although... more
              • Too bad Creative Assembly didn't give tools to edit...darklordaakmal, Fri Nov 17 8:27am
                campaign maps. There are many players of Fourth Age:Total War, mod of Rome: Total War, and Third Age: Total War, mod of Medieval 2: Total War. There are a lot of Total War fans waiting for... more
                • Hordes would work.Huinesoron, Fri Nov 17 9:22am
                  It might even be the best way to introduce the Mortal factions: they could be hordes that can ally with the factions they meet, either co-occupying their territories or becoming mercenaries... more
      • Wow.Neshomeh, Wed Nov 15 10:54pm
        The crazy thing is, according to the article, this has actually been coming since about July-August. Which makes sense; as they point out, it must've taken a heck of a lot of doing to make the... more
        • Oh, yeah.Huinesoron, Thu Nov 16 6:10am
          His prologue to the Beren and Luthien book specifically mentions that it is "(preemptively)" the last book he'll be putting out based on his father's work. We assumed it was just because he's as old... more
      • Welp.Iximaz, Wed Nov 15 4:51pm
        If Christopher's stepping down, who's going to be managing the estate now? And I shudder to think of the endless stream of reboots that will soon come out. I thought after the Hobbit movies the... more
        • Good question!Huinesoron, Thu Nov 16 6:01am
          It's entirely possible that CT remains the Literary Executor for Tolkien's estate; I don't know enough about the law to say whether that's likely. So he may still have a decent say in things.... more
        • Whatever they do...Neshomeh, Wed Nov 15 10:58pm
          They may make their adaptations... they may make their reboots... but they can never take our canon! ~Neshomeh
          • Yeahbut...Huinesoron, Thu Nov 16 6:08am
            ... if [tosses coin] Brandon Sanderson is licensed by the Tolkien Estate to write "The New Shadow: An Official Lord of the Rings Sequel", does that become part of the canon or not? Related questions: ... more
      • Crawling Chaos.Hardric, Wed Nov 15 4:27pm
        I'm quite behind in my Lord of the Rings reading, but I know that's a really big thing, and not just because Silmarillion related stuff is not that much impossible anymore. Now to see what the future ... more
        • Mm-hmm.Huinesoron, Thu Nov 16 6:24am
          Christopher has been for Middle-earth like some people have historically seen the Permission Givers for the PPC: an implacable force bent on stopping anyone from adding anything to the canon except... more
          • And not helped by the fact I can't find disks of the extension and could not play it for years (changing house several times to follow your father's jobs can play havoc with your things). But when I... more
            • I think...Huinesoron, Fri Nov 17 11:18am
              ... my lackluster view of buffs is probably because the first place I encountered them and cared was Age of Mythology , where you get to use each God Power exactly once. Sure, it's lovely that you... more
              • To be fair...[EvilAI]UBEROverlord, Sat Nov 18 2:26pm
                Not every god power in Age of Mythology is single use. Atlanteans who worship Gaia have multiple powers that are multiple use. I just finished a game last night and had 11 uses of four powers. Though ... more
                • That's very true.Huinesoron, Sun Nov 19 1:02pm
                  Though I don't remember many of those being buffs per se... [Checks] No, the only buff under Atlantis is Prometheus' Valor power (turning units into heroes), plus maybe Hyperion's Chaos (turning... more
                  • I'd copunt Vortex as a most amazing buff.Hardric, Mon Nov 20 11:07am
                    I mean, come on, the ability to move your entire army to any point of the map without any risk of interception? That's one heck of a buff. I can also sympathize with the love for Atlantis, that's the ... more
                    • Responses[EvilAI]UBEROverlord, Mon Nov 20 5:46pm
                      Vortex doesn't technically fit the definition of buff. But it is a good power. Most of Atlantis' powers are solid. I just don't like the 0 dedicated heroes. It does give more flexibility sure, but it ... more
                      • I think you underestimate Atlantean heroes.Hardric, Tue Nov 21 11:14am
                        I never had problems using them against myth creatures, and to be honest Hersirs does have a swarm aspect too in my opinion. Though I'll admit it could be influenced by the fact I mainly play Oranos, ... more
                      • Right now, I'm playing as Zeus.Huinesoron, Tue Nov 21 8:29am
                        And I hate him . If the Greeks are the generic nation, then Zeus is their generickest god. I was struggling all through the first three ages, mostly because the Norse decided yet again to march... more
                        • Okay, I take it back.Huinesoron, Tue Nov 21 3:26pm
                          It turns out Zeus is actually a pretty good extreme late game god, because the Myrmidons are actually really strong! Six or eight Myrmis can back up a couple of siege weapons and take out half a... more
                          • And it's up!Huinesoron, Thu Nov 23 10:11am
                            Age of Mythology: Zeus , in which I start out in an intolerable grind, and turn it into a thorough stomp. hS
                            • Duck, i'm glad the EE changed that.Hardric, Thu Nov 23 12:54pm
                              Don't get me wrong, that was great for you, but... Dunno, just Bolting Nidhogg feels wrong. Also, happy to see that series again? Ready to do the final rotation? Please don't give up before Hades is... more
                              • I dunno, I kind of liked it.Huinesoron, Thu Nov 23 3:27pm
                                Bolt is actually a pretty weak power - there's very few cases where killing /one/ unit will make a difference. It's useful very early (ie, when the enemy sends their free Classical myth unit into... more
                                • 2% is indeed ridiculious.Hardric, Fri Nov 24 12:07pm
                                  Maybe they could have tried finding some middle ground? Anyway, I hope you enjoy the Evil God round, although Zeus, despite the genericness is supposed to be the 'unique' Greek god (only one with... more
                  • I had forgotten...[EvilAI]UBEROverlord, Sun Nov 19 7:50pm
                    You mentioned Buffs specifically. Though Gaia's Forest does provide a buff to wood gathering for that particular forest. I always preferred the Egyptians myself, Isis was the first deity I had... more
              • True about the AI players in general.Hardric, Fri Nov 17 12:17pm
                (Except when tey spam/flood you thanks to unlimited money.) Although I'll admit my respect for buffs/debuffs and the likes comes from... RPGs, especially the main Atlus lines, Persona and Shin Megami ... more
    • Reeeally now?Neshomeh, Tue Nov 14 9:13am
      Hm. I guess I'd like to see the story of the Rohirrim, myself. I dig the pseudo-Norse aesthetic, and also horses. I wonder, given the plural "storylines," whether they might not do a different thing... more
      • An anthology?Huinesoron, Tue Nov 14 9:40am
        Could be, but of course that means they'd have to have the rights to even more of the Books. Which means they have to try and cross the bridge before Christopher smashes it with his staff (I assume... more
    • ... Have to admit, 1 would be really cool.Hardric, Tue Nov 14 6:58am
      Arnor and Angmar are two places I'm really curious about in Middle Earth, and... Okay part of it also comes from the Battle for Middle Earth expansion with Angmar (Always thought it was a waste of... more
      • Rise of the Witch-king!Huinesoron, Tue Nov 14 7:47am
        I love that expansion. ^_^ I think Angmar is actually a better faction than it seems at first glance. When I play as them (single-player - I don't know if there even /is/ a functional... more
        • Let's use its full name.Novastorme, Tue Nov 14 8:26am
          Because, besides from being an awesome game, IIRC it also has the longest title for a video game. The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle Earth II: The Rise of the Witch-king That's phenomenal... more
          • It's glorious.Huinesoron, Tue Nov 14 8:32am
            An IGN article from 2007 ( here ) does indeed put it at number one, and lists the full acronym. Of course, they don't get the capitalisation quite right - it should be TLotRTBfMEIITRotWK. It's almost ... more
            • I offer up the following Chumbawumba album title:Scapegrace, Tue Nov 14 12:37pm
              The Boy Bands Have Won, and All the Copyists and the Tribute Bands and the TV Talent Show Producers Have Won, If We Allow Our Culture to Be Shaped by Mimicry, Whether from Lack of Ideas or from... more
  • Click here to receive daily updates