Could the newest J.R.R. Tolkien adaptation rule them all? Amazon revealed the setting of its upcoming Lord of the Rings TV series — and fans now have so many exciting Middle Earth clues to unpack around the largely mysterious new project. “Welcome to the Second Age,” read a March 7 tweet from the official Lord of the Rings on Prime account, confirming the show's setting.
After Amazon first greenlit the multi-season series based on Tolkien's beloved fantasy novels in November 2017, the most prominent fan theory was that the story would be centered on a young Aragon (who was, of course, portrayed in the films by actor Viggo Mortensen). This news, however, categorically disproves that rumor because, as noted by IndieWire, the ruler of Gondor wasn't born until the Third Age. (The site also notes that while others theorized that Aragorn’s predecessor, Prince Eärnur of Gondor, could be the focus, he, too, was born in the Third Age.)
Just as Tolkien famously wrote that he "started with a map," Amazon not only used the quote as the show's page's first tweet but also followed suit. On Feb. 15, the account posted a map of Middle Earth which it filled in over subsequent weeks, slowly rolling out clues for curious fans. The same day as it announced the series' setting would be in the Second Age (AKA “The Age of Númenor”), Amazon also updated the interactive map to show the island of Númenor in the bottom left corner.
That alone would have confirmed the setting, as diehards are clearly aware that Númenor is referred to as a long-ago-destroyed lost city in the The Lord of the Rings trilogy. According to IndieWire, Númenor won't necessarily be the TV series' primary setting, however, as Tolkien never completed his Aldarion and Erendis novel that took place on the island. Writer Zack Sharf laid out the following theory, however:
"The Second Age spans 3441 years and ends with the first downfall of Sauron, the primary antagonist of The Lord of the Rings. [Director Peter] Jackson’s movies begin with a prologue set at the end of the Second Age explaining Sauron’s defeat, so it would appear Amazon’s series will take place in the years where Sauron rises to power. Events in the Second Age that the series could focus on include Sauron building his forces in Mordor, the creation and distribution of the rings of power, and the destruction of Númenor. Considering the island’s appearance on the map and its legacy within Tolkien’s world, it appears likely the series will have much to do with Númenor."
In terms of concrete date from Amazon, however, there isn't much to go on. To date, they've made no casting announcements or even revealed a start date for production. Entertainment Weekly did reveal last July, however, that the streaming service tapped writers JD Payne and Patrick McKay to serve as showrunners for the epic.
“The rich world that J.R.R. Tolkien created is filled with majesty and heart, wisdom and complexity,” the pair said in a joint statement at the time. “We are absolutely thrilled to be partnering with Amazon to bring it to life anew. We feel like Frodo, setting out from the Shire, with a great responsibility in our care — it is the beginning of the adventure of a lifetime.”
Fans clearly have an thrilling journey ahead as well.