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The Lord of the Rings (The 2020/21 Amazon Prime “Prequel” Series)

Here is everything you wanted to know about Amazon's forthcoming quarter-billion-dollar epic...

Just kidding, of course - not many hard facts are known yet. But as a lover of Tolkien's books, I am really interested in how his huge slice of dark history will be brought to the screen, thankfully in a format long enough to contain a good amount of it, and hopefully making good use of the stunning technology now available.

So here are some of the clues we have and links to help keep track of developments.

The Amazon production, so far as we can tell, will focus on the Second Age of Middle-Earth, but may eventually extend to those events in the Third Age that occur prior to Frodo's adventures.

The map provided by Amazon (click the image above for more details and click here to explore the map) contains several interesting clues for fans of the books. In particular it shows the island of Númenor (the human inhabitants of which had Aragorn as a descendent), and the Amazon series will certainly feature Númenor's cataclysmic destruction.

Tolkien was fascinated with languages and how they evolved, and his supreme creations were the Elvish languages (among others) that underpin The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings (click the image to the right for an in-depth article).

For Tolkien, the languages came first. He said that they drove the development of characters to use the languages and then the stories around the characters.

(He also wrote that “it's always good to start with a map”.)

I look forward to seeing what use of the invented languages Amazon makes, a tough but essential thing to bring to film (although Peter Jackson's team did a commendable job in their movies).

A couple of postscripts for book lovers:

I loved The Lord of the Rings, but IMO a comparable work that surpasses it in world-building, realism and story-telling (but not invented languages) is Elizabeth Moon's Paksworld Novels (an epic story in many volumes). Elizabeth Moon is, among other things, a historian and an ex-1st Lieutenant in the US Marine Corps, an interesting combination. If you liked LOTR, don't miss Moon's epic if you have never read it (the link is to a major article about it on my web site).

In The Lord of the Rings (the book, not the movie) Saruman, his powers removed but still full of malice, returns to The Shire ahead of the Hobbits and does his best to wreck both its environment and the peaceful relations between its citizens. Written long ago, does anyone else not see a spooky resemblance to what Trump is doing to the USA? Saruman didn't ultimately succeed in The Shire. It will be a long time before we know the outcome in the USA.

On that cheerful note...

If you're interested...

[Amazon's LOTR Twitter Feed]
[Latest Amazon LOTR news (w.r.t. when you are actually reading this)]
[Constructed languages (including Minionese and Klingon)]