My Thoughts on Episode 7 of “The Rings of Power”

After watching six episodes of The Rings of Power and being generally unmoved by what is clearly meant to be an epic and sweeping tale, I believe I am finally invested in this show and its characters. While the majority of viewers seem to have been amazed by episode 6 and felt episode 7 fell flat, I feel exactly the opposite: the focus on friendship and hope in this installment has truly drawn me in. I can at last say I actually like The Rings of Power.

This isn’t to say the episode was perfect. I am disappointed the thing about mithril being able to heal the Elves seems not to be a fabrication from Annatar, as many fans were hoping (or, there’s at least some truth to it, considering the mithril healed the diseased leaf from Lindon). This entire plot line is bizarre, from the implication there’s a Silmaril involved to the timeline that the Elves are going to fade by spring. The only interesting facet is that it opens the door to portray the Dwarves as selfless rather than greedy; they won’t dig for the mithril because they’re treasure-obsessed but because they want to help the Elves.

Implying Isildur is dead was also an interesting choice, since pretty much everyone must know he’s not. I assume this is for character development, such as moving Elendil from being in favor of aiding Middle-earth to regretting the mission. And I guess something interesting will happen to Isildur while he’s missing from the main narrative, but it was a little hard to feel *too* bad for Elendil since we all know Isildur is not dead!

However, the character development in general in this episode really helped win over my heart. I like Theo more. I can even believe he’d hug Arondir, when I’m not sure I would have been sold on that before. The Harfoots became more interesting, as well. I loved seeing some of them rally and realize perhaps they should help the Stranger, who tried so hard to help them even when things didn’t turn out the way he intended. Sadoc, of course, has some of the best lines. Elrond and Disa and Durin continue to be stars, and the scenes between Durin and his father (also Durin lol) were fabulous. Galadriel is still a bit of a miss for me because I don’t think she’s coming across as fearsome or awe-inspiring. (So it fell flat for me when Theo joked about being unable to imagine her dancing because I have no issue imagining that at all.)

Annoyingly, I am also beginning to see why people think Halbrand is Sauron, though I’ve been hoping the entire time he is not and that Sauron has actually been off screen.

So sign me up for episode 8 (and the rest of the seasons) because I’m finally truly excited!


My Thoughts on Episode 6 of “The Rings of Power”

Rings of Power episode 6 review


I seem to be in the minority here, but I didn’t love episode 6 of The Rings of Power. I understand the positives that left a lot of viewers thinking this was the best episode yet: It was cohesive, following just the Southlanders and the Númenóreans as their plot lines converged. It was meant to be pretty epic, with a battle and some big reveals from Adar. And, of course, the ending.

The problem is that the show just isn’t really making me feel as much as I hoped it would. I can see what the show wants me to feel. I am supposed to be in awe of Galadriel, to be afraid for the Southlanders who have never fought before and now must defend themselves against a large army, to root for the love between Arondir and Bronwyn, to see the wonder (and, uh, squalor) of Middle-earth through the eyes of Isildur. But I just don’t. I haven’t perfectly pinpointed why I don’t, but I think it’s a combination of the fact that 1) I can see how the story is crafted, which takes me out of it and 2) there hasn’t been enough build-up for some of the characters.

Seeing the craft means I can see what the writers are going for in each scene, but it also means I am thrown out of the story by all the homages to Peter Jackson’s work. I can’t become immersed in the story if I am thinking, “Ah, this scene is like Arwen riding her horse,” or, “Oh, like when the Rohirrim rode over the hill to Helm’s Deep.” It’s distracting. I also am sometimes thrown out by the references to actual Tolkien. When Bronwyn gave Theo her motivational speech about the shadow being a small and passing thing, with light and high beauty forever beyond its reach, I didn’t even really think of Sam Gamgee; I thought that was a completely bizarre thing for a mother to say to a small child who had a nightmare! I cannot believe someone wrote that into the script.

As for build-up for characters . . . I think focusing this episode on the Southlands was meant to help with that, and I liked seeing more of Bronwyn and Theo, but I still am baffled by the romance between Bronwyn and Arondir. When Arondir suggested getting a little house together after everything was over, I think I might have been more surprised than Bronwyn herself. Do they even know they like each other??? And now he’s basically proposing??? I know this is a great ship for a lot of people, but I haven’t been able to get invested in it.

Adar is a stand out, however, and I do love his scenes. It was also great of the writers to explore a bit of the problem of orcs with the dialogue between him and Galadriel. I hope he’s not actually dead because right now he’s one of the best parts of the entire series.

I am still watching the show. I hope I will love the last two episodes. It’s been interesting to see this take on Middle-earth, but it’s just not compelling to me.


My Thoughts on Episode 5 of “The Rings of Power”


I’ve been on the fence with my feelings on Amazon Prime’s “The Rings of Power” series. I’ve been straightforward that, skeptical as I am about how much the writers needs to make up plot-wise, I’d probably like the show if it kept to the spirit of Tolkien. After watching episode 5, however, I don’t know how optimistic I can continue to be about the show. This is definitely the worst episode so far (in my opinion, of course), from the illogical plot to poor dialogue and motivations for the characters.

I will admit 1) the show is still breathtaking and I love seeing Middle-earth on screen and 2) the show has its moments. There’s a reason I haven’t thrown up my hands and stopped watching entirely, and that’s because there are certainly characters and scenes that have been able to arrest my attention. Adar is a dark and compellingly complex villain, for instance, and I love the relationship between Elrond and Durin. And Elrond in general, to be honest. I wasn’t sure about his portrayal initially, but I do love the emphasis on his kindness, and he does seem wise where others sometimes are not. Episode 5 also made me laugh out loud a couple times, with the table scene and with Waldreg’s being utterly baffled that Adar is apparently not Sauron.

But I didn’t love the episode.

The big issues, as many other people have been complaining about, is the completely bizarre plot line about mithril supposedly containing the light of a Silmaril and the Elves needing mithril so they can “saturate” themselves in the light of the Valar before spring, lest they diminish and dwindle away to nothing. What? This obviously makes no sense in terms of what Tolkien actually wrote about the Silmarils, mithril, Elves, etc. And the scenes were made even odder by the fact that Gil-galad and Celebrimbor both apparently know that the Dwarves have found mithril but seem weirdly fixated on having Elrond admit it’s true. Someone on Twitter suggested to me that what they really want is for Elrond to find out details about mithril, which makes slightly more sense, but Gil-galad definitely had a weird fixation with trying to get Elrond to say, “Yes the Dwarves have mithril,” when he already knows they do regardless of what Elrond says. Also I don’t understand how the mechanics of this is supposed to work. How much mithril do the Elves need to “saturate” themselves?

The running theory, of course, is that this completely bonkers plot isn’t true. Perhaps Sauron is already in Eregion, off-screen, and he has put this idea into Celebrimbor’s head, and Celebrimbor has put it in Gil-galad’s head. So the Elves believe mithril contains the light of a Silmaril and they need mithril to stave off the evil that is decaying the tree in Lindon, but it’s all a falsehood and this will be nicely cleared up by the end of the series.

I honestly hope this is the case, but it wouldn’t completely save the show for me. I really dislike the idea that the show has been written in such a way that fans are left thinking for weeks that it has completely ignored Tolkien’s lore and being annoyed about it. That is, it’s not an enjoyable experience to see something that seems horrifyingly against canon in episode 5 and see everyone being upset about it and discussing to have it (possibly) all cleared up, three weeks later, in episode 8. I’d enjoy the show much more if I felt confident the entire time that it was trying to be faithful to Tolkien. Right now my confidence has been shaken.

Other than that, I was annoyed by some minor things in this episode. Galadriel still isn’t a standout character for me, and I wish she’d been given better dialogue and stronger characterization. For instance, Halbrand finally fully confronts her about what her deal is being obsessed with hunting down Sauron and when Galadriel really digs deep, when she says it’s not just about her brother and that there’s something more and greater at stake, her explanation for why she keeps fighting is . . . she just can’t stop. I don’t think I’ve ever heard something so underwhelming. Isn’t the whole question WHY she can’t stop?

I was also a bit baffled by the Harfoots here. Again, there were some nice moments. I liked seeing the Stranger talk with Nori and test out the idea of whether he’s a peril or whether he’s good. And I really like the walking song. I want to listen to it over and over. EXCEPT . . . the song makes no sense for the Harfoots. The line, “Not all who wonder or wander are lost,” is lovely and ties into The Lord of the Rings, of course, but how is this a song the Harfoots would sing? They have made it exceptionally clear that wondering is frowned upon and makes you a weirdo and that you are not allowed to do any wandering that is not approved by the group in the context of their official migrations. No one goes off path, you know.

So, unfortunately, I just think the show is badly written. Gorgeous visuals and strong scenes here and there keep me just hooked enough I keep watching to hope things get better, but the show as a whole is letting me down right now. I don’t know if the final three episodes can save it for me or not.


Why I’m Excited about The Rings of Power–Even Though I Wasn’t Planning on Watching

The announcement that Amazon would be creating a sort of prequel to the Lord of the Rings films was met with a fair bit of controversy. Some fans were skeptical that a mega corporation could do justice to a beloved work. Others feared the rumors that the show was to be a competitor to Game of Thrones, with the same level of violence and sex. I had many reservations of my own, and was largely determined to ignore the show if it turned out a disappointment–not really difficult since I don’t pay for Prime! However, as many early reviews seem promising, and as many Tolkien scholars seem to think the show attempts to capture the spirit of Tolkien’s work, I find myself getting more excited about the show–even though I still don’t have Prime. Why? Because The Rings of Power has the world talking about Tolkien again!

The Rings of Power admittedly does seem to me like it will be some sort of Tolkien fan fiction. Although the show is supposed to depict the Second Age of Middle-Earth, the showrunners do not have the rights to the books that contain the bulk of Tolkien’s writings on this time period–The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and The History of Middle-Earth. Instead, they have to rely on the references and summaries contained in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, both set in the Third Age of Middle-Earth. In other words, the showrunners have an outline and rather have to make up the rest. I have longed for a TV series adaptation of The Silmarillion for years, so it is a bit of a disappointment that not all the events and characters may able to be represented in detail as Tolkien described them. And yet–the show has people interested in the Second Age. It has new readers opening up The Silmarillion. It has reignited a fandom.

Of course, for many of us, the Tolkien fandom never did go away. But one has to admit that, typically, enthusing wildly about Tolkien in public may or may not garner an equally enthusiastic response. When acquaintances get to talking about books, I always say that Tolkien is my favorite author in a too-casual kind of way, to gauge their response. No point in scaring people off by waxing poetically about how Tolkien’s works changed my life, right? Not until they have signaled that they might feel the same. But things are different now. Everyone is talking about Tolkien again. Or, if they are not, bringing up this new show everyone seems to be interested in is a good place to get people started talking.

Indeed, several of my friends and acquaintances in the past week or so have brought up Rings of Power themselves, even though they are not Tolkien fans. Some of their descriptions of what they think happened in The Lord of the Rings and how they think this new show relates to The Lord of the Rings are delightfully absurd, in a way that suggests that they actually have little or no interest in Tolkien and probably could not distinguish his work from any other author’s. I think that’s great! They are not avid Tolkien fans yet. But they are dipping their toes in. They see something that interests them. If we are fortunate, the Tolkien fandom will grow!

But it is not only entirely new fans who are learning more about Tolkien. Many avid Tolkien fans for various reasons are familiar mostly with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Some Tolkien fans likely thought that was all Tolkien ever wrote. But The Rings of Power has created an enthusiasm for the Second Age. People are asking about how best to read The Silmarillion, and cracking it open for the first time. Reading groups and book discussions are being formed. Articles are being written to explain Tolkien’s legendarium. A part of Tolkien’s history that, for too long, was spoken of as inaccessible for the average reader is being made accessible.

So, of course, I’m excited for The Rings of Power–even though I have not watched it yet. The release marks a boom of interest in Tolkien. Articles. Discussions. Reviews. Merchandise–if we are lucky! The Tolkien fandom never went away. But it is always special to be able to share it with so many enthusiastic people at the same time. I will be using this moment to talk about Tolkien as much as I can.

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My Thoughts on Galadriel in “The Rings of Power” after the First Two Episodes

Although there were only 8 voters, this is the post that won my Twitter poll when I asked what I should write about relating to The Rings of Power. So here they are: some of my rambling thoughts on how Galadriel has been portrayed in The Rings of Power so far. (All RoP content on the blog is tagged with “Rings of Power,” if you want to see more!)

Spoiler Warning!

Is the RoP Galadriel “Faithful” to Tolkien’s Work?

If you’re a casual Tolkien fan, the first thing to note is that there is no “definitive” version of Galadriel before her appearance in The Lord of the Rings in the Third Age. Tolkien left several versions of how he envisioned her and her story earlier in her life, and they are sometimes contradictory. So there’s no real way to say what the “canon” version of Galadriel in the Second Age would be.

But Does It Bother You She’s a Warrior in the Show???

There are a couple references to the fact that Galadriel competed in great feats of athletics in her youth, and Tolkien once describes her as “Amazonian,” and fans have pointed to these quotes as justification for the fact Galadriel is a warrior in the show, the Commander of the Northern Armies. To which I say . . . meh. I think her great athleticism would describe why she would be a good warrior if she were a warrior, but one can be athletic, muscular, strong, etc. without being a soldier. Obviously.

I don’t 100% hate this interpretation of her character, however. The showrunners clearly draw on the fact the Elves fought Morgoth for a very long time, and Galadriel would have seen the loss, in addition to the loss of her brother. She would have seen how evil Morgoth and Sauron were, and it is canon she felt obliged to see the eradication of this evil through. So who’s to say she didn’t pick up a sword at one point in her life in order to help hasten the defeat of her enemies?

Tolkien doesn’t specifically describe her as spending the Second Age doing wise Elvish mystical acts either, so really anything the showrunners came up with would have been made up. My reaction to her being a soldier is kind of just to shrug at this point.

What Actually Bothers Me about Galadriel

My real problem so far is that absolutely no other character in the show seems to respect her. Galadriel is supposed to be incredibly wise and powerful, plus she comes from a highly respected Elf family. People should be as impressed with and as in awe with her as they are in The Lord of the Rings.

Instead, the show opens with young Galadriel appearing as some sort of outcast mocked by the Elf children, then moves on to show her troops mutinying and refusing to follow her orders. She next appears in Lindon, where Elrond emphasizes their friendship and obviously likes her as a person but also seems to think she’s delusional that Sauron is still alive and stupid for defying Gil-galad. And Gil-galad also implies she’s a fool. Next, we see her on the boat to Valinor, where the other Elves clearly think she’s crazy for not being excited to go to Valinor and clinging to her knife, and then we see her jump off the boat when she clearly is too far from any land to actually swim anywhere without dying.

Tolkien certainly characterizes Galadriel as rash and proud in her youth, as she chose to leave Valinor in the first place and was interested in ruling a realm of her own, so the hotheadness the show is leaning into makes sense. But at no point do I really feel that Galadriel is majestic and wise; her hunt for Sauron comes across as some crazed personal vendetta rather than something she’s pursuing because she’s farsighted and wise and can see the evil that’s hidden while others cannot.

It’s very probable the writers are aiming for Galadriel to have some sort of character arc where she becomes more like the stately Galadriel we know in The Lord of the Rings, but I’m not really asking for her to act stoic and wise and unperturbed at all times. I’m asking for other characters to respect her instead of clearly believing she’s a fool.

What are you thoughts?


Who Is “The Stranger” in “The Rings of Power?”: Here’s My Prediction

Spoiler Warning for the First Two Episodes of The Rings of Power

Introduction: The Stranger

After the first two episodes of The Rings of Power, one of the major mysteries for viewers is the identity of a character currently known only as “the Stranger” (or, well, “Meteor Man” as a joke among fans). He comes to Middle-earth in a meteor, crashes, and is found by the Harfoot Nori. He seems to have no memory of his own name or other mundane things like what food is or how to eat, and he only gives Nori (and viewers) a glimpse of his purpose/plans when he shows Nori and Poppy a constellation; Nori guesses he wants to go somewhere on Middle-earth where he can see it.

So . . . who is he?

My personal guess is Gandalf, though he’d probably go by the name Olórin in the Second Age.

Why the Clues Suggest the Stranger Is Gandalf

Nori and Poppy clearly establish for viewers that the Stranger is not of any the races they are familiar with: Men, Elves, Dwarves, or Harfoots. He survived crashing from a meteor and possesses some type of magic, and the Harfoots describe him as “giant,” apparently meaning he’s taller even than the Big Folk they’re used to seeing. This would imply the Stranger is probably one of the Maiar.

And there are several hints that he’s specifically Gandalf:

  • Gandalf has a particular affinity for heat and light, displayed in his love of fireworks in LotR, and the Stranger seems to control the fire around him after the meteor crash.
  • Nori talks about how she believes she was “meant to find him,” a line reminiscent of when Gandalf tells Frodo in LotR that Frodo was “meant” to find the One Ring.
  • The scene where the Stranger speaks to the fireflies calls to mind the scene where Gandalf speaks to a moth in LotR.
  • Gandalf has a soft spot for and interest in Hobbits that no one else in Middle-earth seems to, so the writers could be creating a situation where his love for them originates with the Harfoots saving him upon his arrival in Middle-earth.

But Is Gandalf in Middle-earth in the Second Age?

Both the Valar and the Maiar are spiritual beings and can take various physical forms as they choose (though Sauron eventually cannot assume a beautiful shape), and according to some writings from Tolkien, it’s possible Gandalf was in Middle-earth earlier than the Third Age, simply not in a form that anyone recognized him in. (Which may explain why the Stranger is described as “giant,” when Gandalf in the Third Age is never described as notably tall.)

See the quotes from tweets below:

Could the Stranger Be One of the Other Istari?

Sure, he could be. I’ve seen fans hoping it’s Radagast or one of the Blue Wizards, but I think this would be a bit strange considering all the connections to Gandalf that I pointed out above. The only connection I really see to Radagast is that he’s good with animals, and the Stranger spoke to fireflies, but that’s a bit tenuous. And we don’t know much about the Blue Wizards in general, so I don’t know what clues would point to one of them.

But Could It Be Sauron???

I don’t think this theory makes sense. I’ve seen people suggest the Stranger is Sauron because early in the first episode, Galadriel says one of Sauron’s old hideouts is a place so evil that it sucks the heat from the Elves’ torches — and then fires around the Stranger aren’t actually hot, so it’s as if the heat is being sucked away. This is an interesting point, but I don’t think it’s enough.

There’s no reason Sauron would be in a meteor. Certainly it’s kind of ridiculous anyone is in a meteor, but I can see it as a weird way of transportation between Valinor and Middle-earth. There’s no reason I can think of at all that Sauron would have been in a meteor when the whole premise of the show seems to be that Sauron is hidden away in Middle-earth actively building an orc army and planning world domination.

I also don’t think it works narratively for Sauron to be the Stranger. Tolkien’s work is generally not about crazy plot twists. So, even though this point of the plot was created entirely by the showrunners and not by Tolkien himself, I take it at face value when Nori says the Stranger is important and she feels she was meant to help him. I believe, because of this, that the Stranger is someone good, and these Second Age Hobbits are not accidentally enabling Sauron.

What’s your theory?


A Quick Guide to the Second Age of Middle-Earth Before You Watch The Rings of Power

A Quick Guide to the Second Age of Middle-Earth

Interested in watching The Rings of Power, but not sure what the show is about? Intimidated by the vast lore of Middle-earth? Wanting a quick guide to give you just enough background to understand the show, without having to delve into thousands of years of Middle-earth history? Below we have compiled some questions you might have about the show and the events it might cover.

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Which of Tolkien’s writings does the show have access to?

Although the events of the show are covered most extensively in The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and The History of Middle-Earth, the showrunners do not have rights to these books. (For those unfamiliar with these works, Unfinished Tales and the multi-volume History of Middle-Earth series contain J. R. R. Tolkien’s drafts on Middle-earth and its development. The Silmarillion was Tolkien’s son Christopher’s attempt to form these manuscripts into a cohesive story.)

The showrunners have rights to The Lord of the Rings (including the appendices) and The Hobbit, so they are arguably somewhat limited in what they can cover. However, they can pull from references made to past events (things like Bilbo’s song about Eärendil), as well as from the historical summaries and timelines given in the LotR appendices.

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What events does the show cover?

The show is supposed to cover the Second Age of Middle-earth. For context, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are set in the Third Age.

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Give me a brief summary of the Ages of Middle-Earth?


Eru/Ilúvatar (basically God) creates the Valar. These are supernatural beings who function as gods/angels under Ilúvatar. The Valar help Ilúvatar sing Arda (the world) into being. One of the Valar, Melkor/Morgoth, goes rogue and introduces evil into creation. Morgoth later enters Arda and attempts to claim it as his own.

Other of the Valar also choose to enter Arda. They choose Manwë as their king and spend years fighting Morgoth to prepare the world for the coming of Elves and Men, the Children of Ilúvatar.

The First Age

The Elves are the first Children of Ilúvatar to awaken. Many choose to leave the lands where the Dark Lord Morgoth is still at large, and remove to Valinor–the land where the Valar dwell.

In Valinor, the Elf Fëanor creates the Silmarils, wondrous jewels that contain the light of two blessed Trees made by the Valar. Morgoth covets the Silmarils, so he travels to Valinor, destroys the Trees and steals the jewels. Enraged and blaming the Valar for the loss of his creations, Fëanor leaves against the will of the Valar and takes an Oath with his sons to pursue Morgoth and the Silmarils.

Many Elves leave with Fëanor to make their own realms in Middle-Earth, and some kill other Elves in the attempt to get ships to depart. The Doom of Mandos is pronounced against those who participated in the Kinslaying, barring Valinor to the rebellious Elves. Galadriel and her brother Finrod also depart Valinor, though they did not participate in the Kinslaying. (One version of the story says Galadriel fought against the Kinslayers! See Unfinished Tales.)

The Elves in Middle-earth spend long years fighting Morgoth and trying to reclaim the Silmarils. Galadriel’s brother Finrod dies at the hands of Sauron, Morgoth’s lieutenant. Morgoth’s eventual defeat marks the end of the First Age.

The Second Age

At the start of the Second Age, Morgoth has been defeated, but his lieutenant Sauron escapes. The Valar gift the Men who helped in the fight against Morgoth an island. There they found the realm of Númenor. Númenor is close to Valinor, but the Númenoreans are forbidden to sail there (the Ban of the Valar). Eventually, Sauron will arrive in Númenor, and inflame the people’s jealousy of Elven immortality and their resentment against the Ban of the Valar. When the Númenoreans ultimately rebel against the Valar, and attempt to sail West, Númenor is destroyed and the shape of the world is changed, preventing Men from attempting to sail to Valinor ever again. Exiles from Númenor found the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor in Middle-earth.

Before Sauron’s arrival in Númenor, however, he has tricked some Elven-smiths into forging the Rings of Power. The Elves eventually perceives Sauron’s treachery when Sauron puts on the One Ring, meant to control the other rings. Celebrimbor has forged three rings without Sauron’s assistance. The Elves hide these.

The Second Age ends with the overthrow of Sauron and the taking of the One Ring by Isildur, an exile from Númenor.

The Third Age

The Third Age is the Age of the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It ends with the War of the Ring, the final overthrow of Sauron, and the passage of the Elf Elrond over the sea to the Undying Lands.

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What history do you need to know to understand the basic premise of The Rings of Power?

Basically, understand that Sauron (the villain of The Lord of the Rings) was once the mere lieutenant of a scarier Dark Lord named Morgoth. His master has been overthrown, but Sauron is still at large and poised to begin his own evil empire, and revenge himself on the Elves and Men who defeated Morgoth. If you want a fuller picture, you can read the brief descriptions of the First Age above.

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What are the Rings of Power?

During the Second Age, under the guise of friendship, Sauron instructs the Elf-smiths of Eregion in the forging of the Rings of Power. Celebrimbor, the grandson of Fëanor, is the greatest of the smiths. Sauron and the Elves forge 16 rings together. Celebrimbor forges three alone. Then Sauron forges the One Ring in secret in Mount Doom. The One Ring is bound to the rest, so Sauron can see and govern the thoughts of the other ring wearers. The Elves realize Sauron’s treachery when he puts on the One Ring, and they take off their rings. Sauron reclaims the original 16 and gives nine to Men and seven to the Dwarves, in an effort to rule and control them. Celebrimbor and the Elves hide his three rings. One goes to Galadriel, one to Gil-Galad, one to Círdan. The Elven rings are still bound to the One, however, and cannot be used openly. (See The Silmarillion for more details.)

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Why is Galadriel a warrior in this show?

There are many versions of Galadriel’s history and they often contradict each other. Some of them hint at a potential fighting background. One quote in Unfinished Tales mentions that, “She [Galadriel] was strong of body, mind, and will, a match for both the loremasters and the athletes of the Eldar in the days of their youth.” Later, in a letter, J. R. R. Tolkien described Galadriel as having an “Amazon disposition” and binding her hair up when participating in athletics. This, coupled with various mentions of her will to rule a realm of her own in Middle-earth–and her departing from Valinor to do so against the will of the Valar–is presumably the basis to make Galadriel a headstrong warrior in the show.

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What happened to fan favorite characters such as Frodo and Aragorn?

Sorry, they won’t be born for another couple thousand years! Characters like Galadriel and Elrond are around because Elves have long lifespans and are essentially immortal, unless they die by some physical hurt such as in war.

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Why are there no Hobbits?

Tolkien’s writings indicate that Hobbits did little of historical note before the Third Age. And, really, The Silmarillion is the history of the world as told by (and concerning) the Elves. So, presumably, to give people familiar with the LotR movie more Hobbits, the showrunners turned to Harfoots, which are supposed to be the ancestors of the Hobbits. Hobbits, one might note, did not move into the Shire until the Third Age.

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Who is Gil-galad?

Gil-galad is the High King of the Noldor (one of various groupings of Elves) in Middle-earth. He rules over the realm of Lindon and will fight alongside Men to overthrow Sauron at the end of the Second Age. (Sam sings about Gil-galad and his final fight in The Lord of the Rings.)

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Check Out These Sources!

J. R. R. Tolkien never finished compiling the history of Middle-earth, so some accounts of histories and character backstories will differ depending on which manuscript or book you read! Below are the sources used in this post to try to summarize briefly (and broadly) the history of the First and Second Ages. Be aware, however, that many stories were never finalized. Galadriel’s history in particular was reworked many times!

  • The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, ed. by Humphrey Carpenter with Christopher Tolkien
  • The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Unfinished Tales by J. R. R. Tolkien, ed. by Christopher Tolkien

Have more questions about the characters or the Second Age? Let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer! (And undoubtedly other Tolkien fans will be able to help out, as well!)

My First Impressions of “The Rings of Power,” Episodes 1 and 2

No Spoilers in This Section!

A few days ago, I posted about why I was finally excited to watch Amazon’s adaptation of Middle-earth’s Second Age, The Rings of Power, after being skeptical for so long. But now that I have actually watched the first two episodes, I’m not really sure what I think. Definitely a lot of the plot and characters are made up, and at times it seems obvious (as in, it doesn’t feel like something Tolkien would have written). But I don’t hate the show either, and all the fears that the show would be some horrific affront to Tolkien and his work seem a little overblown. Mostly I feel neutral at this point, and that’s disappointing.

The first episode took a while to get going, and while it’s definitely pretty and most of the actors are great, this installment probably suffered from how much background information it had to get through and how many characters there are. I didn’t love the prologue, which seemed to want to cover a lot of The Silmarillion without actually getting into any details about The Silmarillion. I understand this is likely a combination of the studio not having the rights to discuss some events and of wanting to get through things on a basic level so people unfamiliar with the plot could follow, but I still felt underwhelmed by it. However, there was some decent imagery, and you can tell the writers are trying hard to work with what they have.

I decided to keep watching because, frankly, the first episode of a lot of shows leave something to be desired. I think the first episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender is a snooze fest, for instance, but the show as a whole is great! So I kept up my optimism for episode two.

It did deliver, a little. The second episode made me more invested in the characters, as I saw more of them, and I got more invested in the plot. To be fair, the general plot of the series *as a whole* still seems unclear besides “Galadriel thinks Sauron is coming back, and he probably is,” but I got invested in what some of the characters are doing in their own little plot lines, and the writers seem to have a thing for ending on cliffhangers to keep viewers hooked.

My only real issue is that I’m not feeling as if I’m sucked into Middle-earth. The show certainly looks like Middle-earth. The scenery is beautiful. I want to go live in Lindon now. But I don’t know about the story, even if I haven’t quite pinpointed why. Is it the dialogue? The plot? The places where the show deviates from Tolkien? I want to give the show more of a chance to see if it can grab me, but I’m disappointed my general feelings are, “This show is okay, but I don’t know if I would rewatch it for fun or go out of my way to recommend anyone else watch it.”


Here are some random thoughts I have about some details in the show so far:

  • I don’t know that the Harfoots as a whole are doing anything in particular in the show (i.e. that they’re “necessary”), but I’ve decided I kind of love Poppy, who doesn’t want to be adventurous or take risks but does so for love of her friend. She wants to pretend she’s not a good person sometimes, but she is. And she has a hidden sense of wonder.
  • I think the Galadriel plot line is causing a lot of issues. Like with the writers having Gil-galad send her and the other Elves to Valinor. (Uh, why is this his decision?) And then the weird portrayal of the journey to Valinor itself. I thought it seemed like Valinor was already outside the circles of the earth due to the magical protective cloud wall and the light that seems to assume people into it, but I don’t know if that’s what the writers were going for.
  • Durin and Disa are very fun. I want to see more of them.
  • I don’t love Arondir as much as other people seem to. He comes across as rather stiff to me.
  • It’s so awkward everyone just calls Finrod Galadriel’s brother all the time, instead of his name.
  • Celebrimor seems promising as a character. I like his story about Morgoth and the Silmarils, even if it isn’t canon.

Why Did Aragorn Let Grima Wormtongue Go?

Every year on March 25, the anniversary of the Downfall of Sauron, the Tolkien Society hosts Tolkien Reading Day. This year’s theme selected by the Tolkien Society is Love and Friendship. The primary goal is to promote the reading of the works of J.R R. Tolkien! To celebrate, Pages Unbound will be hosting several days of Tolkien-related posts. In addition to our own thoughts, we will be featuring a number of guest posts!

Today I answer a somewhat common question that has been Googled about The Lord of the Rings:

Why does Aragorn spare Wormtongue’s life after he is exposed as an agent of Saruman and cast out from Edoras?

In the Book

The first thing to note here is that Aragorn only saves Grima’s life in the movie adaptation. In the book, it is Theoden who spares Wormtongue, at Gandalf’s advice:

“See, Theoden, here is a snake! With safety you cannot take it with you, nor can you leave it behind. To slay it would be just. But it was not always as it now is. Once it was a man, and did you service in its fashion. Give him a horse and left him go at once, wherever he chooses. By his choice you shall judge him.”

“Do you hear this, Wormtongue?” said Theoden. “This is your choice: to ride with me to war, and let us see in battle whether you are true; or to go now, whither you will. But then, if ever we meet again, I shall not be merciful.”

The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien

The theme of mercy runs throughout The Lord of the Rings, even as John pointed out in his guest post that capital punishment is still the norm in Gondor (and likely Rohan, too, since Eomer threatened in the past to kill Grima, and Gandalf suggests taking his life wouldn’t be entirely out of line).

Yet Gandalf’s general teaching is that lives should not be taken lightly. Early in the story, he defends Gollum and tells Frodo:

“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.”

The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

He implies it is not the prerogative of humans (or Elves, Hobbits, Wizards, etc.) to take someone’s life because they “deserve” it, but rather that this is the job of a higher power (Ilúvatar).

There is also the running theme that offering such mercy pays off unexpectedly later. Readers see that sparing Gollum’s life is the reason the Ring is finally destroyed. And sparing Grima’s life is the reason Gandalf and company acquire the palantír that had been in Orthanc. Grima also ultimately rids Middle-earth of Saruman.

In the Movie

So why is it Aragorn who saves Grima’s life in Peter Jackson’s movie adaptation?

In the film, King Theoden advances ominously on Wormtongue after he is thrown down the stairs of Edoras, raising his sword to smite Rima where he lies. Aragorn leaps from off-screen and catches Theoden’s sword with his own, saying, “No! No, my lord! Let him go. Enough blood has been spilt on his account.”

Watch the scene here.

In general, I would say the themes here are the same. Aragorn believes in mercy (very likely a quality he himself learned from Gandalf in the past, though Gandalf does not comment in this scene), and he makes a vague statement about how enough violence has been done, and Theoden shouldn’t perpetuate the cycle. There’s no discussion of how Grima might redeem himself if he chooses, as there is in the book, however. Grima simply spits on Aragorn’s offered hand and runs away.

My guess is that the writers were trying to incorporate the theme of mercy but also wanted to make this scene more “dramatic” somehow. Theoden and Aragorn’s crossing of swords certainly is more exciting than Gandalf’s and Theoden’s mild discussion of what might be done with Grima. The scene also really emphasizes the idea that Theoden was weak and under Grima’s spell and hasn’t quite recovered yet; his walk down the stairs towards Grima looks a bit crazed, as if some of the spell has yet to wear off. The scene basically highlights Aragorn’s nobility at the expense of Theoden’s.

There is also the awkwardness that the scene shows Aragorn disagreeing with Theoden’s judgement in his own kingdom, which the film attempts to compensate for by having Aragorn immediately cry, “Hail Theoden King!” and initiating everyone else’s kneeling to Theoden. One could argue it doesn’t entirely work as, later in the film, Theoden feels the need to explicitly tell Aragorn that Aragorn is not the king of Rohan and should keep some of his opinions to himself.


The fact that Grima’s life is spared is consistent with Tolkien’s theme of mercy and not dealing death in judgement that runs throughout his work. The choice to have Aragorn specifically save Wormtongue in the movie seems done for drama and to emphasize that Aragorn in particular is wise and merciful.


The Rohirrim Name Generator

Every year on March 25, the anniversary of the Downfall of Sauron, the Tolkien Society hosts Tolkien Reading Day. This year’s theme selected by the Tolkien Society is Love and Friendship. The primary goal is to promote the reading of the works of J.R R. Tolkien! To celebrate, Pages Unbound will be hosting several days of Tolkien-related posts. In addition to our own thoughts, we will be featuring a number of guest posts!

Discover what your name would be in Rohan by following the directions below!

Format: [Name] of [Place]

What is the first letter of your first name?

A: Eorl
B: Morwen
C: Thengel
D: Théodwyn
E: Mildwyn
F: Guthlaf
G: Grimbold
H: Hama
I: Gamling
J: Erkenbrand
K: Ceorl
L: Eothain
M: Dunhere
N: Estmund
O: Merefled
P: Eowyn
Q: Cenric
R: Helm
S: Darwise
T: Eomer
U: Adgith
V: Theoden
W: Elflhem
X: Grima
Y: Wilrun
Z: Theodred

What is your favorite color?

(Of those listed. I know I can’t include every possible option!)

Red: Aldburg
Orange: Westemnet
Yellow: Edoras
Green: Eastfold
Blue: Fenmarch
Purple: Westfold
Pink: Eastemnet
Black: the Folde
Brown: the Wolde
White: West-March
Other: the White Mountains

Tell us your name in the comments!

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