Is The Rings of Power based on a book?

A still from Lord of the Rings Rings of PowerAmazon Prime Video

The Lord of the Rings franchise has been based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved books, but does the new series The Rings of Power follow that formula?

The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) franchise has always featured adaptations of Tolkien’s beloved series of books, with the Hobbit trilogy also following his singular Hobbit book.

Now, with the new Middle-earth prequel series coming out, Amazon Prime’s The Rings of Power, audiences may be wondering what book this show will be adapting for the screen.

So, does The Rings of Power follow the plot of a particular book? Well, kind of, but it does take some explaining.

Is there a Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power book?

Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power isn’t based on a book the way that the other films are. The series is actually an adaptation of a singular part of one of Tolkien’s books, called The Silmarillion.

The Silmarillion isn’t a story, rather it is a textbook about Middle-earth, which was in development even before The Hobbit was published back in 1937. If you thought Tolkien’s world-building was incredible before, well, the Silmarillion makes the amount of context we get look like a small drop in the ocean. In comparison, The Silmarillion is a tidal wave, containing tales of Númenor, Sauron, Finrod, Gil-Galad, and Valinor.

Now, The Silmarillion isn’t quite as well known to the fandom in comparison to the other books, but those who do know of it may be wondering how this book will be adapted onto the screen. See, Tolkien himself never intended to flesh the Silmarillion out into a full narrative, leaving it as a collection of histories, like a bible of some sorts.

While this well of information may delight many fans, it doesn’t make for a compelling story. Especially since the book has even gained a reputation for being near-impenetrable by all but the most dedicated Tolkien scholars.

Which parts of The Silmarillion does The Rings of Power adapt?

Before the trailer for the series dropped, some speculated that The Rings of Power would perhaps be an anthology series, covering multiple histories from the book.

However, as seen in the trailer, The Rings of Power has become a prequel of some sort in regards to The Hobbit and LOTR. It takes place thousands of years beforehand and covers the ending of the Second Age of Middle-earth. This age has been seen before in flashbacks in LOTR, which depicts a battle between Sauron and the alliance of Men and Elves.

Therefore, The Rings of Power will be covering the tale within The Silmarillion that details Sauron’s rise to power as the Dark Lord of Mordor, and the creation of The One Ring. It seems that the series will be detailing it from the eyes of the characters, rather than as a historical report like it is in the book.

It should be noted that, since the Second Age isn’t covered in enough detail – only dates, times, and events were made apparent – by The Silmarillion to carry an entire series, the show has also been looking at texts besides The Silmarillion for inspiration.

In his letters to Humphrey Carpenter, Tolkien had revealed just as much about Middle-earth’s past in Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth, as well as in the 12-volume The History of Middle-earth. This, and some creativity from the show’s writing team, has allowed the series to flesh out very minute characters and emotional plot lines.

And if you’ve read our review of the series so far, you’ll know that it’s done a pretty great job of bringing Tolkien’s words and world to life.

The Rings of Power will premiere on Amazon Prime Video on September 2.

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