‘LOTR: The Rings of Power’ artist says the series ‘isn’t the Middle-earth you remember’

Rings of Power - Galadriel
Photo via Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power/Amazon Studios

In less than four months, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will finally premiere after being in development at Amazon Studios for more than five years. This will be the first live-action undertaking involving J.R.R. Tolkien’s fictional world following Peter Jackson’s acclaimed cinematic trilogies.

While the powers that be have gone out of their way to recruit several Middle-earth veterans — including concept artist John Howe and composer Howard Shore — the fact remains that this new series is taking us to an Arda that existed some 6,000 years before the events of the movies.

As if to make that point clear from the get-go for many Tolkienists, John Howe has recently explained to Empire Magazine how this forthcoming take on Middle-earth will differ from his work on Peter Jackson’s movies.

“This isn’t the Middle-earth you remember,” He said. “This is a world that’s very vibrant. The elves are not hidden away in Mirkwood or lingering in Rivendell. They’re busy constructing kingdoms. The dwarven kingdom of Moria is not an abandoned mine and the Grey Havens is not yet an abandoned city. I loved having the opportunity to explore that unseen history. We’re finally sailing on the oceans of Middle-earth. They’re daunting and enterprising and are almost colonizing the world. They were a lot of fun to imagine. It’s something neither Lord of the Rings nor Hobbit movies went anywhere near.”

The elves once ruled Middle-earth side by side with humans, but when we see them in The Lord of the Rings, their kind is departing Middle-earth for the undying lands of Valinor. The dwarves are also but a pale shadow of their former glory, if not practically sidelined, so it’ll definitely be interesting to see them at the height of their civilization.

While fans still retain their reservations about The Rings of Power, and understandably so, we can be absolutely certain that the design will be in keeping with the Middle-earth we’ve come to know and love, if for nothing else other than the fact that John Howe is already responsible for the look of the world Peter Jackson set out to create more than two decades ago.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is scheduled for a Sept. 2 release on Prime Video.