The Rings of Power: A return of the king


Galadriel from the Rings of Power. Photo from IGN.

I am nothing of a Tolkien hater. In all actuality, I love the Lord of the Rings movies.

But to learn that a Lord of the Rings series was being made was something of a surprise. You have to keep in mind – there is 19+ hours of run time in the combined Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies. Ignoring the fact that The Hobbit is a trilogy, those movies are masterpieces. I kind of thought we had squeezed all of the Tolkien content possible out of the books, and most definitely believed we had exhausted the public’s desire for a prequel series after watching Bilbo wander around Middle Earth for 532 minutes.

But alas, I was wrong.

I will be the first to admit that I went into the first episode of The Rings of Power with a couple of prejudices. First of all, I had been exposed to a Youtube ad prior to watching the episode, which is never a good way to learn about a series. I hated the ad with a burning passion. And so did the directors, if my fruitless scouring of Youtube means anything. I thought the music was uninspired, and raged for around thirty minutes about how Amazon Prime ruined Tolkien’s legacy, disgraced themselves as a streaming platform, etc.

Oh, yeah. The Rings of Power is on Amazon Prime, the most revered of streaming services.

But I also come from a Tolkien family. I was raised on the movies and grew up listening to my father rave about the books. The same father who detests the very idea of a Tolkien work created without Peter Jackson, the original director.

So yes, I was a little skeptical.

Did I hate it? No. Did I fall down to my knees, worshiping the greatness of the writers? No. The dialogue was incredibly stilted and unnatural. It sounded like they were desperately trying (and failing) to be Tolkien. Which, honestly, is really hard! The Lord of the Rings books are put up on such a high pedestal in the fantasy genre. Amazon Prime could not pay me 700 million dollars to write a TV show about the series, though I guess the writers didn’t agree.

Galadriel, a familiar face for Lord of the Rings fans, is the “main character” of the series (although there are multiple “main characters”…almost as if the writers couldn’t find a way to connect all of them together), but she’s probably the worst one. For a character so ethereal and inhuman in the Lord of the Rings, she’s probably the most “human” of all the characters – selfish, demanding, and rude for absolutely no reason.

Is it worth the watch? Maybe, depending on how low your standards are. For true LOTR fans, the show lacks both the timeless class and nostalgia of the original movies, and the fundamental element of a good show: quality writing. Yes, the show is a fantasy. But it is not Tolkien’s.