One epic fantasy that will forever be considered a classic of both literature and the big screen is The Lord of the Rings. Although not a direct adaption of the key sources, the new Amazon TV series will start by taking us back to the Middle Earth of the Third Age at a time when a young Aragorn explores the lands of his forebearers as one of the ranger folk of the north. From what we’ve seen with the success of Game of Thrones adaptions, this production is one of the most exciting medieval adventures promising not another lackluster trilogy, but seasons full of the rich lore laid down by J.R.R Tolkien.
There is so much detail, so much magic written in the pages, that it plays out like a mythicised retelling of 13th century European history. Ancient languages, runes read by moonlight, rulership of the Númenórean Kings, alliances with elves, and the sack of dwarven cities: these elements layer the world, giving life to modern legend. Even so, they ring with a certain clarity and keen authenticity, as they were written by a professor who delved deeply into the legends of our own world, channeling Arthurian legend as well as Celtic, Germanic, and Old English tales, such as Beowulf – one Tolkien’s most revered sources.
Though there’s a great deal of speculation as to what adventures will finally reach our screens, looking back into the appendices and references included by the author may give us a clue as to what shape the stories will take.
Looking at the films, Aragorn’s boyhood was only teased out a little. We know his mother brought him to Imladris, the sanctuary of Rivendell built by Elrond, and that his lineage was hidden because he would be pursued all his life. But not much else was revealed. From the books, we know that Elrond actually renamed Aragorn ‘Estel’ (hope) to protect his identity, which might influence the way he is portrayed.
From the books, we know that Elrond actually renamed Aragorn ‘Estel’ (hope) to protect his identity, which might influence the way he is portrayed.
This aspect could be explored by way of chronicling his prowess as a swordsman and fledgling hero, one who is destined for great things and who takes on causes of desperate free peoples. It would also make sense that we could expect to see flashbacks or whole episodes dealing with his days as a youngling – perhaps his tutorship under Elrond, learning Elvish and the history of his people, playing and fighting with Arwen and her brothers, and even practicing scouting for orcs with his Lothlórien brother-in-arms, Haldir.
The Once and
Before Frodo was born and the famous council was made to decide the fate of the one ring, a young Aragorn lived in a time when Sauron returned, openly declaring his regained might and rebuilding his fortress of Barad Dur. If the return of this demi-god was not threatening enough, Elrond reveals to him his true name and ancestry. There are many opportunities here for storylines to fill in the gaps of the following years, for, after discovering the truth and the weakness for power his blood carries, Aragorn vanishes into the wild for several years.
…after discovering the truth and the weakness for power his blood carries, Aragorn vanishes into the wild for several years. This could set a precedent for some world building and knowledge gathering…
This could set a precedent for some world building and knowledge gathering, much like Gandalf did when he searched the libraries of Minas Tirith for information concerning Sauron’s ring of power. Then, after five years of wandering, Strider the ranger meets the Grey Pilgrim, Gandalf the Grey, and begins a friendship with him. In this there is potential for a master and student scenario which is reminiscent of Merlin and King Arthur of the Roundtable legends and which was famously popularized in T.H. White’s Arthurian classic, The Once and Future King.
One of the facts that surprised me the most was learning of Aragorn’s deeds under various guises. Despite the threat that his lineage presented, should it be discovered that he is the would-be-king ‘Elessar’ and true heir to the kingdom of Gondor, he did not hide himself away but fought amongst his kin. Again in the appendices it details that Aragorn, son of Arathorn, served Thengel in Rohan (Théoden’s father) and Ecthelion II of Gondor in disguise. This he did for over twenty years, long before Lord Denethor became the Steward of Gondor during the war of the ring.
…in the appendices it details that Aragorn, son of Arathorn, served Thengel in Rohan and Ecthelion II of Gondor in disguise. This he did for over twenty years…
These are valid points of interest in the shaping of the LOTR series because of the potential for character building and ‘brothers-in-arms’ stories. Age may also play a factor on how these characters interact and develop their comradery. Aragorn, blessed with the longevity of the Númenórean blood of old, is much older than Boromir and Faramir. When King Théoden was born, he was already a young man and by the time Boromir was born, Aragorn was almost 40 years of age. This changes how we look at many things, including when Boromir called Aragorn his captain as he lay dying, owing not just to the fellowship which bound them, but alluding to a much older history that may have existed between them.
One of the major excitements about this pending project is that it is not in any way another reboot, or (to quote The Simpsons) a ‘deboot.’ It is, by all accounts, an exploration and expansion of the source material with original characters that have not yet been portrayed on screen. This is a great way to approach this series because, let’s face it, the original LOTR trilogy is a classic. And it is way too soon for a re-imagining of it.