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The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

We are back! After a little summer break, our rrramble writers are straight in with one of the most anticipated TV releases of the year. This is, of course, the brand new addition to The Lord of the Rings franchise; The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. Did our writers enjoy the adventure, or did they wish they had stayed in the Shire?

A stylised illustration in a green and pink border of three outstretched hands with palms up-facing, each holding out a glowing ring
Illustration by Cat Crawford


After years and years in the making, you would have thought the writers of TV’s most expensive series ever would have thought of a better way to start the first episode than with 15 minutes of exposition. Unfortunately when you’re restricted by the Tolkien estate to writing a prequel for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings that does not include any of Tolkien’s characters or stories mentioned outside of these two texts, but also aren’t allowed to contradict any of Tolkien’s other works regarding Middle-earth, I guess you can’t be overflowing with imaginative ideas for this series.

Up until the title sequence, I was very, very worried. Was The Rings of Power just going to be a lot of visuals with little substance? And was the main actress really going to spend the whole time scowling and staring at people as she talks dramatically about names and places I can’t keep up with? And was I going to have to book a very expensive holiday to New Zealand after seeing all this beautiful scenery?

Thankfully things get a bit more interesting after the opening scene, when we are introduced to the Harfoots (aka Irish hobbits), who provide some much-needed light comedy, a great appreciation for the cottagecore lifestyle, and also Lenny Henry. Meanwhile, in the Elven capital of Lindon, there are lots of beautiful cloaks and plenty of political intrigue, as the High King’s announces that evil definitely will not return and he ships Galadriel off to Valinor (basically the elvish homeland/heaven, for those who aren’t aware) before she can tell everyone that evil is actually returning. This also leads to a visually stunning scene at the end as Galadriel turns back from the shining light of Valinor so that she may return to Middle Earth and defeat evil. While at first I had felt awkward watching such beautiful television on such a small screen in my living room, I was so gripped by this scene that I couldn’t look away.

There are still some dud storylines which I’m hoping will be dropped or become more interesting as the series progresses. I’m mainly talking about the elf and the human that are in love but cannot be together. Already the story for these two feels old and predictable, and due to the heavy hand of the Tolkien estate, I doubt we’ll get more than longing glances and brushing hands, and a subplot so tired it fell asleep in the first five minutes of screen time. Honestly, you’re better off watching a YouTube compilation of Arwen and Aragon from the Peter Jackson movie adaptations.

Overall, my main takeaways from this first episode were that I want a long swooshing cloak that I can walk through the autumn leaves with. And the ability to quit my job and just live like a Harfoot in the woods. And a holiday to New Zealand. Alas, I guess I will just have to settle on curling up with a cup of cocoa to watch the second episode.

A stylised illustration of a black woman with brown natural curls with her hands clasped wearing a grey robe with a gold necklace
Illustration by Cat Crawford


The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is one of the most anticipated shows I’ve ever

known. Even myself, a person who falls very low on the list of people who actually care about its existence, has struggled to avoid the buzz around this project.

Considering the exorbitant amount of money spent on it, I’m not surprised that it’s got people

talking. It’s not just the budget that makes this a big deal. It’s the culture of the thing. J.R.R Tolkien is responsible for creating a pop-culture sensation that is impossible to rival. An individual doesn’t have to have seen any films or read any books and they’d still know a hefty amount about the lore through proximity alone.

I’ve tried very hard over the years to enjoy The Lord of The Rings or The Hobbit. Really, I have.

As a fan of literature and an aspiring writer, I hold such respect for Tolkien and what he

achieved with his creations; it almost feels like an obligation to consume it. Perhaps that’s why I struggle so much to connect - I’ve never been good at enjoying things because I’m supposed to.

One thing that might be just as famous as the works themselves is the reputation of the community that it attracts. As much as the portrayal of nerd culture in media can be an exaggerated stereotype, I’ve definitely met some personalities who centre their existence on what they’re a fan of with such an intensity that it can be off-putting.

So I had no intention of ever watching The Rings of Power. I had pretty much decided from the

get-go I wouldn’t like it, letting my bias get in the way perhaps.

Watching the first episode it’s clear to see that effort has gone into ensuring the atmosphere has remained unchanged. There are beautifully shot landscapes and gritty retellings of battles

passed. Every inch of what we’re shown is steeped in etherealism. For all that I’ve never been

able to connect with the previous iterations of Middle-earth I’ve always considered it an

incredibly aesthetically pleasing setting for a story.

Unfortunately, for me, that’s where the enjoyment ended.

I tried to enjoy it. To get excited about the story we were being told, the characters that I know

have such large parts to play in the books and movies. But I just couldn’t. It felt too much like

sitting in a history exam desperately trying to remember all the names and dates that have been thrown at you throughout the year. Not only have I not studied for this exam, I haven't attended a single class.

I recognise the name Galadriel, but the relevance of anything the character did was a little lost

on me until I later googled the character and recognised Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of the older

character - though that still didn’t shed any light on the story. But that’s always the risk with

prequels, I suppose. They’re very obviously catered to those who want more backstory to an

existing premise rather than a story that begins and ends in one arc.

If you’re a big fan of The Lord of the Rings already then this will likely be worth a watch for you. However, if you’re like me, who has no real interest, then perhaps not. Regardless, I’m glad I gave it a try.

A stylised illustration of a white woman with blonde hair in grey armor standing between two trees. She holds a sword by the handle with the point touching the ground. There are brown leaves falling around her.
Illustration by Cat Crawford


This was such a cosy watch! Watching The Rings of Power, I felt like I’d travelled back to my childhood. My love of Lord of the Rings has been reignited and I would love nothing more than to kick back and re-watch the original trilogy.

The Rings of Power manages to capture some of the magic of the old films; the visuals are stunning and it is refreshing to return to more practical effects in cases like the orc. It made it feel real, grounded and added to the creepiness and tension, something that I had felt was missing from The Hobbit trilogy. There were even a few jump scares in the second episode - nothing major but it’s easy to make me jump!

Bear McCreary’s epic score deserves credit, because it totally immersed you in Middle-Earth. I really enjoyed that each race had different elements to their music: whilst the elves' scores felt ethereal, the Harfoot’s felt folksy and quaint. Each piece of music helped to bring life to the different societies and give that feel of division between the races.

Based partly on events in The Silmarillion (one of the most difficult books I’ve ever tried to read) The Rings of Power focuses on Middle-Earth’s second age. I’m not sure how accurate the new series is to the original material, but I am aware that some of the characters are brand new creations. As was the case with Tauriel in The Hobbit, this doesn’t always go down well with hardcore fans, but I think it’s important to bring something new to the old. Besides, if we stuck ruthlessly to old material, there would be no surprises.

Galadriel is my favourite character so far. Strong-willed, powerful and intriguing to watch: Morfydd Clark channels Cate Blanchett whilst still making the role her own. However, with some of the other characters, it does feel a bit like we are covering the same ground. A forbidden love between an elf and a human. A difficult friendship between an elf and a dwarf. Likely parallels or call-backs to the original trilogy. I find myself a little indifferent about these relationship dynamics because it feels like it’s been done before. Maybe the relationships will head in different directions? It’s early days yet.

At times, The Rings of Power felt a bit slow to get going, but this is understandable as there seems to be a lot of new characters and storylines to set up. We started out with a lot of talking and not a lot of action, but things speed up by the time you get to the second episode and I was so engrossed, I had to keep watching.

Spoiler warning…at the end of episode one, a stranger falls from the sky on a meteor and I’m still trying to guess who it could be. Gandalf? Sauron? Saruman? …some other character we’ve never met before? Many mysteries are being set up and I’m excited to see how it plays out over the rest of the series.


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