The first Lord of the Rings TV show photo is here, and people are freaking out — for a good reason. Hidden in the glorious horizon shot, which appears to show an idyllic sun if you're just a n00b like I am, is a pair of huge pieces of Middle-Earth lore.
Those who don't know any better may just be excited about the news of an announced release date (Sept. 2, 2022). But this single photo is proving to be the kind of thing that should make J.R.R. Tolkien super-fans super-excited about the upcoming series.
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Look closely at that solar-flare blast of light in the distance, and you'll see what some online believe to be The Two Trees of Valinor. They, in fact, provided the light for both day and night (one each) before the First Age of Middle-Earth, and out of them came the sun and the moon.
Oh, and incredibly important gems, too. The Silmarils, also known as Jewels of Fëanor, were crafted from these trees. This took place before the First Age, and those gems are among the most precious in the land.
They also led to a lot of strife in Tolkien's The Silmarillion, which you may have read and whose events take place thousands of years before those of The Lord of the Rings book trilogy.
This matches previous leaks that suggested elements & passages from The Silmarillion and Tolkien's Unfinished Tales were licensed by Amazon Studios for this adaptation. (Although the TV series is called The Lord of the Rings, it won't have much to do with the plot of the book trilogy or of the Peter Jackson movies.)
If that bit of lore doesn't strike your imagination, I'll just let you in on a moment that clued me into the importance.
I asked my colleague Jordan Palmer (a Tolkien fan through and through) about the Trees of Valinor — which he described as a "HUGE" deal, before helping explain the lore I unpacked above.
Also, Twitter user @lukeisamazing did a good job of amping up excitement here:
me: this is probably gonna be badalso me: holy fuck, it's the two trees of valinor! I'll watch every second https://t.co/8HxUBc8UfC pic.twitter.com/3E8kcHnAylAugust 2, 2021
Amazon's Lord of the Rings series has, aside from the rumbling rumor that it will eventually show us how Sauron became Sauron, mostly been the stuff of insider speculation and casting news.
For example, Amazon's budget for the series looks colossally huge. The first season is reportedly costing the streamer $465 million. As for who's in it, Joseph Mawle (Benjen Stark), was recently announced to be joining a cast so huge you'd think they were filming three seasons at once.
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