The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power wants to show you Middle-earth at its glorious best.
That's according to the Prime Video show's concept artist John Howe, who believes that diehard fans and casual observers will have their breath taken away by the fantasy prequel series' beautiful locations and overall large-scale aesthetic.
Speaking to Empire magazine (opens in new tab), Howe explained how The Rings of Power's Second Age setting allowed Amazon Studios – in collaboration with the Tolkien estate – to showcase a Middle-earth at the peak of its powers.
It's certainly a far cry from the ruined, decaying cities and destruction of natural habitats that audiences have seen in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie trilogies. But, as Howe reveals, the opportunity to present a thriving Middle-earth to viewers enabled the show's various creative teams – production design, animation crew, and costume makers to name just three – to deliver a breathtaking view of a world that fans won't have previously seen on the big or small screens.
"This isn’t the Middle-earth you remember," Howe said. "This is a world that’s very vibrant. The elves are not hidden away in Mirkwood or lingering in Rivendell. They’re busy constructing kingdoms. The dwarven kingdom of Moria is not an abandoned mine and the Grey Havens is not yet an abandoned city. I loved having the opportunity to explore that unseen history.”
"We’re finally sailing on the oceans of Middle-earth. They [the elves] are daunting and enterprising and are almost colonising the world. They were a lot of fun to imagine. It’s something neither Lord Of The Rings nor Hobbit movies went anywhere near."
Set thousands of years before J.R.R Tolkien's legendary Lord of the Rings book series, The Rings of Power will tell the story of how Sauron rose from the shadows to forge the Rings of Power and almost hold total dominion over Middle-earth. The Prime Video fantasy show is one of the most eagerly anticipated TV series of the year, and its teaser trailer certainly showed that Amazon Studios is going all-out to make it as good as it can be. Check out our trailer breakdown for more details on what was on show in the teaser, too.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power's first season will debut exclusively on Prime Video on Friday, September 2.
Analysis: what locations will we see in The Rings of Power?
Howe already teased a number of locations and cities that audiences will see in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. But it won't just be elven kingdoms or seemingly never-ending dwarven mines that we'll travel to as part of the TV series.
Númenor, the great island kingdom of men that was destroyed after its inhabitants rebelled against Eru Ilúvatar and the Valar – the gods they worshipped – will play a major role in Amazon's Lord of the Rings show. Not only will fans be treated to see Middle-earth's oceans and coastlines – something we've never seen depicted on screen before – by traveling to Númenor, but we'll see Game of Thrones-style politicking and power grabs play out on the eventually doomed peninsula.
Lindon and Eregion, two other prominent elven realms, will also feature heavily in proceedings. Both kingdoms played significant roles in Middle-earth's Second Age, so it's clear why they're key locations in Amazon's Lord of the Rings TV series. Meanwhile, as you'll see in the image above, Galadriel will be traveling to areas that few living beings can survive – the Forodwaith, an icy wasteland in the northern realm of Arda, which lies north of the Iron Mountains.
For fans of Peter Jackson's two film trilogies, The Rings of Power should also lead us to locations that we've previously seen, too. The inclusion of the Harfoots – one of three breed of Hobbits – originally lived in the foothills of the Misty Mountains. They also traveled to Arnor and Weathertop, though, so we may see these locations in Amazon's show as well.
With The Rings of Power set to comprise five seasons (each with 10 episodes), we're bound to see many more iconic and unusual locales in the TV series. Place your bets on where else we'll venture to alongside the show's more prominent characters.