The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power completely ignored J.R.R. Tolkien’s Second Age as he depicted it in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, The History of Middle-earth, and Unfinished Tales.
However, despite the first season completely ignoring Tolkien’s writings and thus producing a creatively bankrupt show, there is a very simple way to move forward with a true adaptation in the second season and beyond and J.R.R. Tolkien provided the answer in the prologue of The Fellowship of the Ring.
In the prologue, Tolkien provides a brief retelling of the events of The Hobbit, where Bilbo obtains the One Ring. However, he notes this retelling is not how Bilbo originally told it to his dwarf companions and Gandalf.
Tolkien writes, “Now it is a curious fact that this not the story as Bilbo first told it to his companions. To them his account was that Gollum had promised to give him a present, if he won the game; but when Gollum went to fetch it from his island he found the treasure was gone: a magic ring, which had been given to him long ago on his birthday.”
“Bilbo guessed that this was the very ring that he had found, and as he had won the game, it was already his by right. But being in a tight place, he said nothing about it, and made Gollum show him the way out, as a reward instead of a present,” Tolkien continues.
He writes, “This account Bilbo set down in his memoirs, and he seems never to have altered it himself, not even after the Council of Elrond. Evidently it still appeared in the original Red Book, as it did in several of the copies and abstracts. But many copies contain the true account (as an alternative), derived no doubt from notes by Frodo or Samwise, both of whom learned the truth though they seem to have been unwilling to delete anything actually written by old hobbit himself.”
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He then details, “Gandalf, however, disbelieved Bilbo’s first story, as soon as he heard it, and he continued to be very curious about the ring. Eventually he got the true tale out of Bilbo after much questioning, which for a while strained their friendship; but the wizard seemed to think the truth important.”
“Though he did not say so to Bilbo, he also thought it important, and disturbing, to find that the good hobbit had not told the truth from the first: quite contrary to his habit. The idea of a ‘present’ was note mere hobbitlike invention, all the same. It was suggested to Bilbo, as he confessed, by Gollum’s talk that he overheard; for Gollum did, in fact, call the ring his ‘birthday present’, many times. That also Gandalf thought strange and suspicious; but he did not discover the truth in this point for many more years, as will be seen in this book,” Tolkien writes.
Prime Video and Amazon Studios can take a page out of Tolkien’s prologue and have whoever compiled the first season of The Rings of Power admit to telling a false story while the real and true story is eventually told.
They could also be a little creative with it and have it be a history that Sauron might have recounted or maybe even Saruman. To really hit it home how deceitful and thus untrue that first season is, they could even have it be a history written by Grima Wormtongue.
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Not only should they reveal that the first season is a false telling of history, but they could have someone like Aragorn telling a tale about the Second Age from works written by Gandalf or Elrond after the defeat of Sauron and the Scouring of the Shire. He could be telling the tale to his son and heir Eldarion or to one of his daughters.
It would be fitting to have Aragorn or King Elessar tell the tale given he is the last Chieftain of the Dúnedain and a direct descendant to Isildur. It’s quite possible that the tales of the Fall of Númenor would have been passed down to him through oral tradition rather than collected by Gandalf or Elrond.
Given his wedding to Arwen the forging of the Rings of Power would have been passed down to her through Elrond, who wielded one of the Three Elven rings. You could even have her act as a brief narrator as well when it comes to the story of the Rings of Power.
It’s an easy narrative fix that would put the show back on track and regain the goodwill that Prime Video and Amazon Studios spit on with not just the first season’s abomination of a story, but their heinous actions attacking fans as racists.
However, given their actions over the course of the first season along with the narrative they chose to tell, it’s highly unlikely they will do anything like this. It’s much more likely they will double down on their rejection of Tolkien’s writings and bolster their attacks against Tolkien fans.
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