For a villain you barely see, Sauron casts an incredibly long shadow over the Lord Of The Rings (and not just because his tower really is very tall). He’s the ultimate evil of Middle-earth and his presence looms large in Peter Jackson’s movies, even though we only ever really see him in full form in Fellowship’s prologue – elsewhere, he’s mainly watching via his blazing eye from the top of Barad-dûr, or speaking through the corrupted man given extended life as the Mouth of Sauron (see Return Of The King’s extended edition). In Prime Video’s upcoming streaming series The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power, the influence of Sauron will continue to be felt – and his destiny is entwined with that of Celebrimbor, a name sure to be known by Tolkien die-hards.
Fellowships’s prologue offers some idea of what JD Payne and Patrick McKay’s show has in store, giving a glimpse of the Second Age of Middle-earth. And here, we’ll see exactly how Sauron meddles with Celebrimbor – the Elf responsible for the rings that spark this whole tale. “We’re dealing with one of the greatest villains that’s ever been created in Sauron,” Payne tells Empire in our world-exclusive cover story. “And one of the central figures in the story is the character of Celebrimbor. He’s an Elven smith who was manipulated into helping create the Rings Of Power. We’re excited to be bringing him to Middle-earth. He’s very mysterious.” The character comes directly from Tolkien’s extensive Legendarium (and has been brought to the screen before, if not so faithfully, in the Shadow Of Mordor and Shadow Of War video games), here played by Charles Edwards.
With the story of Sauron and Celebrimbor taking place alongside a tapestry of tales involving Dwarves, Elves, and Harfoots, prepare for all of Tolkien’s signature tones (High adventure! High fantasy! Holy-crap horror!) to appear in The Rings Of Power. “Lord Of The Rings doesn’t skirt over the darkness,” says Payne. “It takes you to the steps of Cirith Ungol and the lair of Shelob, where friends are betraying each other and characters are being dragged into Mordor. It’s a harrowing experience you go through. But in the end, there’s always a star in the sky that says, ‘Keep going.’ We wanted to find that spirit in this series.” The forging of friendships, factions, enemies, and – yes – rings is about to begin.
Empire’s world-exclusiveThe Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Powerissue takes a deep-dive into Prime Video’s epic fantasy series, with three covers to collect. Inside, we explore its epic scale, its many inhabitants, and its multi-year plan to tell a whole new tale in a beloved world, speaking to showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, director and executive producer J.A. Bayona, producer Ron Ames, and stars including Morfydd Clark, Lenny Henry, Robert Aramayo, Markella Kavenagh, and Benjamin Walker. All that, plus tons of never-before-seen images. Find a copy on newsstands from Thursday 9 June, and pre-order a copy with your choice of covers here. The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power starts streaming from 2 September.