Amazon Studios The Rings of Power is five months away. We want all Spoilerites to have the best viewing experience possible and have the widest knowledge base about the Second Age of Middle-Earth. This is a weekly Let’s Get Nerdy article series highlighting a different piece of Tolkien I think you need to know about!
This week is all about the Second Age of Middle-Earth. There’s a chance when The Rings of Power was first announced you saw a lot of people, like myself, making hay about the announcement that this show would be set during the Second Age. Like on our Earth, on Arda (the planet where Middle-Earth is), time periods are demarcated by “Ages”. The First Age was the founding of all the things. If you’re a Game of Thrones fan read as: The Age of Heroes. If you are familiar with Abrahamic religions read as: Genesis.
The Second Age was kicked off by the banishment of Morgoth. He was sent into the Void by the Valar. Morgoth (a.k.a. Melkor), was the First Dark Lord of Arda. The first major villain the world had ever seen. For those of us who expected the series to take place during the First Age, Morgoth was the person we expected to be the villain of The Rings of Power. The Void is pretty much exactly what it sounds like and the Valar are the angel-cum-elf-godhead figures. Morgoth was one of the Valar until he fell from grace. I’m certain you are seeing the Lucifer allegro here.
TL;DR Morgoth got kicked into eternal darkness and Númenor rose. While the Fourth Age of Middle-Earth is often characterized as the Age of [Hu]Men with most elves returning to Valinor by this point, The Second Age can easily be characterized as the birth of humans. Númenor, which I wrote about last week, dominates important events throughout the Second Age and define a change of power in the world.
The Second Age lasts fo 3,441 years. However, when it comes to The Rings of Power, specifically, it appears we’re only looking at about 300 years of history if Elendil and Isildur are to be prominent adult characters in the show. Elendil was born in the year 3,119 approximately 322 years before he is slain by Sauron during the Battle of the Last Alliance of Men and Elves – the scene which opens The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring film. If that seems like a long time I remind you that Númenoreans are long-lived being so directly descended from elves.
If The Rings of Power intends to have Isildur as an adult character on the show his birth takes place in the year 3209 which is 232 years before he takes up the shards of Narsil and defeats Sauron during the Battle of the Last Alliance of Men and Elves. This leaves the show about 200 years to cover.
Another event which characterizes the Second Age of Middle-Earth is the founding of the Great Elven Refuge Rivendell. In 1697 – thousands of years before Elendil or Isildur came along – Lord Elrond created Rivendell to be a space for travelers or learners. “The Last Homely House East of the Sea” as it was also known, housed refugees and offered a space of recovery during frequent battles against Sauron throughout the Second Age.
The founding of Rivendell is seven years after the One Ring was forged in the year 1600. For my money, this is a moment we are absolutely going to see in The Rings of Power, even if it’s a flashback. The earliest video marketing which has come out for the show surrounding the creation of the titular Rings of Power. There is no way we are not going to see it.
If you want and easy way to explain the Second Age to yourself or anyone you may be chatting it was the heyday of the elves and when the Rings of Power – the stars of The Rings of Power – were forged.