Amazon turns Tolkien gold into straw

When Amazon announced they were making a prequel to Lord of the Rings, I was delighted. Like many Tolkien fans, I eagerly awaited the start of the show Rings of Power. True, Tolkien hadn’t written much about the Second Age of his Middle-Earth, but Amazon had acquired the rights to some Tolkien appendices; the Tolkien estate had signed off on the show; and Amazon had hired one of the foremost Tolkien scholars in the world, Tom Shippey. Tom’s inclusion seemed to augur especially well. He knew Tolkien personally, and his book, The Road to Middle-Earth, is widely regarded as one of the best works about Tolkien, with almost 1,000 scholarly citations. Surely with all this going for it, Rings of Power would be a wonderful expansion on the lore of Middle-Earth.

Alas, it was not to be. Tom was fired for telling the producers they were “polluting the lore” of the work. Amazon threw out the lore of Middle-Earth to the extent that the events of Rings of Power must be taking place in an alternate timeline and not in the history that Tolkien created at all.

Any continuity with The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings has been severed. The dialogue is terrible, with modern expressions such as “okay” showing up. Galadriel is supposed to be an athletic warrior, but the actress portraying her is awkward at best.

J.R.R. Tolkien mage made using tears.

The plot revolves around the characters being idiotic. One example will suffice. The evil Sauron passes himself off as the long-lost king of the Southlands, and he gets away with it because no one thinks to wonder that a bloodline that was extinguished a thousand years ago has suddenly produced an heir.

Amazon countered the fans’ legitimate grievances by censoring reviews and claiming anyone who didn’t like the show must be a racist who didn’t like black elves. Showrunner JD Payne has denounced fans who don’t like the show as “patently evil.”

I’m not an expert in the field of mass entertainment, but I’m guessing that Amazon is not going to turn Rings of Power around by trashing the fans. Perhaps the best course of action would be to fold the show, admit they spun straw out of gold, and wait a few years before trying again with another show about Middle-Earth. Maybe they’ll be lucky, and Tom Shippey will give them another chance.

Pandra Selivanov is the author of Future Slave, a story about a 21st century black teenager who goes back in time and becomes a slave in the old south.

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