There’s been no shortage of buzz surrounding Prime Video’s Lord of the Rings TV show. From die hard fans of the Tolkein novels and Peter Jackson’s original trilogy to curious onlookers drawn in by its record-breaking billion dollar price tag, you’d be hard pressed to find a show with more curiosity (or anxiety, depending on who you’re asking) swirling around it. And that’s to say nothing of the vagaries of the promotional material as a whole–sure, there are some familiar faces, like a younger Galadriel and a younger Elrond in the mix, but the vast majority of the cast is playing characters who either only received passing mention in Tolkein’s works or who were invented solely for the show, making it difficult to pin down what, exactly, Rings of Power plans on doing with such a thoroughly established mythology.
And, with only the first two episodes provided by Amazon for review, I’m not sure I have a fully formed answer to that question just yet. But what I can say is that Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power definitely does look and, more importantly, feel like what we’ve all come to expect from a story set in Middle-earth. Taking place in the Second Age–with flashbacks to an era even before that, when, in Galadriel’s words, there had “not yet been a sunrise”–Rings of Power deals with the murky period of Middle-earth’s history where an immortal evil being named Morgoth and his extremely powerful underling, Sauron, have been defeated after a centuries-long war. This is, critically, not the war we see in the flashbacks of Fellowship of the Ring, where Elrond pleads for Isildur to take the chance to hurl the One Ring into the fire–but a war that happened much, much before that. This was a war that brought the Elves to Middle-earth in the first place, and introduced them to the world of men.