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The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power Will Deviate From The Books In One Big Way

When it comes to a popular franchise like "The Lord of the Rings," there is no way to please everybody. This is especially true for Amazon's upcoming "LOTR" TV series, "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power," which is unfortunately stuck in the shadows of both J. R. R. Tolkien's original texts and the iconic film adaptations directed by Peter Jackson. Most adaptations of large franchises with lots of worldbuilding have to be careful of how they tread over its established lore, and this is no exception.

Whether it be Marvel Comics or "Star Wars" — or yes, "The Lord of the Rings" — these franchises are subject to interjections of "um, actually" from their dedicated fanbases, whose love of the series often makes them privy to knowledge that its adaptors sometimes overlook. This is not to say that the Amazon series' showrunners, Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne, aren't doing their research. They have a host of dedicated Tolkien scholars on standby. However, no adaptation can be 100% faithful to the original work. In the name of time, expenses, or just good storytelling, sacrifices must be made when modifying a story for a new medium. Though, it is something that creators like McKay and Payne do their utmost to avoid.

In the spirit of that, "The Rings of Power" is staying mostly faithful to Tolkien's writings. Even with Amazon's seemingly unlimited budget, however, they still had to make compromises. As a result, "The Rings of Power" will deviate from the books in one big way.

The events of the Second Age will be condensed

Set thousands of years before the events of the main "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, "The Rings of Power" is based on Tolkien's description of Middle-earth's Second Age, as outlined in the appendices of the novels. But this change in focus doesn't lower the bar for how faithful Amazon's adaptation has to be. Tolkien fans are almost equally passionate about the appendices as they are the novels, and Amazon intends to respect that passion. 

The only problem is that the story of "The Rings of Power" is one that, according to Tolkien's original vision, takes millennia to unfold. Because of that, the show's creators have to condense these events into the time frame of a single generation. "We talked with the Tolkien estate," showrunner Payne told Vanity Fair. "If you are true to the exact letter of the law, you are going to be telling a story in which your human characters are dying off every season because you're jumping 200 years in time, and then you're not meeting really big, important canon characters until season four."

So, "The Rings of Power" may not be the documentary of Middle-earth that fans might be hoping for, but Payne and McKay are doing their utmost to make sure that the series is faithful to the core themes and sentiments of Tolkien's writings. In the end, they can only hope that covering the most important bases is enough to make fans proud.