In the world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth, a reprieve is temporary. While the forces of good enjoy periods of peace, evil gathers in secret—unseen until it’s too late. Such is the landscape of Middle-earth’s Second Age, where after a turbulent war, the realm celebrates a moment of bliss. But something nefarious lingers around the edges—or at least Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) believes so. As such, she’s determined enough to find it. When The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power opens, she’s clinging to the side of a titanic ice cliff, held up by only a few bits of firmly planted pieces of steel in her dogged pursuit of this hidden foe.
Galadriel is but a spec when compared to the scale of that wall, which serves as a handy metaphor for those bold enough to adapt Tolkien’s work. And yet, this monumental task is what Amazon aims to accomplish with Rings of Power. The Prime Video series is a big bet for the company, a splashy entrance into the world of intellectual property, and a chance for Amazon to land its version of Game of Thrones. The ambitious prequel series debuts Thursday (Sept. 1) at 9.m. ET, and is the first of a reported five-season plan that will chart the rise and fall of various characters and kingdoms—as told through faces and places both old and new—all while setting the stage for the prologue audiences saw at the start of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings cinematic adaptations: the rise of the dreaded dark lord Sauron and his creation of the titular Rings of Power, which he used to trick the people of Middle-earth.