The Rings of Power Episodes I & II Review

Rings of Power – Episodes One and Two Review

Let’s start with the fact that I am a Tolkien fan. I’m not a Tolkien scholar. I have read The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and bits and pieces of the other works published by Tolkien after his death by his son Christopher. I have read more than a few critiques on his work, what the work may mean, and what implications they can have in one’s life. I have a working knowledge of Tolkien but I am not an expert. I think this puts me in a unique position to discuss the first two episodes of Amazon’s new series, The Rings of Power – A Shadow of the Past and Adrift.

We will begin with what I didn’t quite enjoy. First, four storylines are going on at once. One we will call The Adventures of Galadriel, Two we will call Ther Harfoots and the man who fell from the sky. Three we will call Elrond and the dwarves. Number four is Men Flee.

Four storylines and several characters in each storyline. I cannot name the characters that I met because you are lucky if you catch the names at all. Some are introduced with great fanfare others the names are mumbled or uttered only once during a rain storm. Honestly, I am going to need a scorecard to keep up.

Because of the four stories, the writing seems choppy. You jump from one story to another with no seam. These stories are not common except that they all occur in Middle-Earth. At least that is how it is at this point. My hope is at some point all of these stories will combine, but I doubt it will be soon.

Now for the good news. With the choppy story and not being able to keep the names straight and four storylines to keep track of I like the series.

It’s filmed beautifully. The Elf cities are amazing to look at, and the dwarf kingdom of Khazad-Dum (later to become Moria) is a wonder to behold. The Harfoots, the ancestors of the hobbits, are earthy and real people and clever. The Elves are, as always, regal and beautiful to look at. The only race that comes off as bad in this series is man. At least so far.

Galadriel and Elrond are the only two characters that movie-going fans of the series will be familiar with. The show takes place more than a thousand years before The Lord of the Rings, and so these are young versions of the two characters that play supporting roles in the trilogy but are the main players here.

I have never fully read the appendices to The Lord of the Rings, and I believe much of the material this series is based on was derived from that source. I think the writer used a lot of imagination to fill in gaps that covered material they were not allowed to use, such as The Silmarillion, and made an entertaining story.  In this, they succeeded.

The Rings of Power is not the work of JRR Tolkien.  What you can say about it is that it is based on his work or expands on his work. It’s not telling his story; if it is, it is telling it uniquely, a way I happen to like.

If you approach the series thinking you’re going to find pure Tolkien. Or, if you approach the series feeling superior because of your knowledge of The Professor’s work and feel like you must defend his honor, you will be disappointed and will find yourself tilting at windmills.

If you approach this series with an open mind, forgetting what you know about The Professor’s work, I think you will find much to enjoy here. A friend wrote on Facebook that it “feels like Middle-Earth.” That’s a true statement. You know you have entered Tolkien’s world, and you are glad for the opportunity to return.