The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power's Middle-earth Will Be Very Different From the Movies

The Middle-earth of Prime Video's upcoming The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series will be unlike the Middle-earth depicted in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings movies. The Rings of Power concept artist John Howe spoke to Empire Magazine about designing Middle-earth's Second Age and how it compares to the Third Age, which is when The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place. The differences are, according to Howe, considerable as the Second Age is an era of building and expansion and less scarred by war than The Third Age.

"This isn't the Middle-earth you remember," Howe says. "This is a world that's very vibrant. The elves are not hidden away in Mirkwood or lingering in Rivendell. They're busy constructing kingdoms. The dwarven kingdom of Moria is not an abandoned mine and the Grey Havens is not yet an abandoned city. I loved having the opportunity to explore that unseen history."

It isn't just the political atmosphere that will be different in The Rings of Power. While The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were landlocked adventures, The Rings of Power will take to Middle-earths' high seas. 

"We're finally sailing on the oceans of Middle-earth," Howe says. This will include spending time with some sea-bound elves. "They're daunting and enterprising and are almost colonising the world. They were a lot of fun to imagine. It's something neither Lord of the Rings nor Hobbit movies went anywhere near."

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is set thousands of years before The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, during Middle-earth's Second Age. It begins during a time of relative peace following the defeat of Morgoth, Sauron's master. The series chronicles the lives and adventures of its ensemble cast and promises to visit the Misty Mountains, the forest elf-capital of Lindon, and the shores of the island kingdom of Númenor.


The series is led by showrunners and executive producers J.D. Payne & Patrick McKay. They are joined by executive producers Lindsey Weber, Callum Greene, J.A. Bayona, Belén Atienza, Justin Doble, Jason Cahill, Gennifer Hutchison, Bruce Richmond, and Sharon Tal Yguado, and producers Ron Ames and Christopher Newman. Wayne Che Yip is a co-executive producer and director along with J.A. Bayona and Charlotte Brändström. The show's full cast includes Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Robert Aramayo, Owain Arthur, Maxim Baldry, Nazanin Boniadi, Morfydd Clark, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Charles Edwards, Trystan Gravelle, Sir Lenny Henry, Ema Horvath, Markella Kavenagh, Joseph Mawle, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Lloyd Owen, Megan Richards, Dylan Smith, Charlie Vickers, Leon Wadham, Benjamin Walker, Daniel Weyman, and Sara Zwangobani.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power debuts on Prime Video on September 2nd.