Some small things that are good to know before you look at our idea.
The end of the Second Age leading up to the eventual battle against Sauron that began the Third Age is a potential period we feel they could cover here. It is possible some of these events are tied in with the rights to The Silmarillion, but after all, this is just a guess, right? And it’s certainly one of the periods we here at LRM would like to see filmed as a TV show.
There are effectively four separate Wars of the Rings, the last and final one being detailed in Lord of the Rings of course. When Sauron first tried to use the One Ring to take over Middle-earth he was twice defeated by the super power of the world at this time. The Land of Numenor.
Numenor is basically Tolkien’s version of Atlantis, a land created specifically for Mortal Men who aided the Elves and stayed loyal to the Valar (Demigods) in the First Age as they battled Morgoth (think the Emperor to Sauron’s Darth Vader, but times 10). Morgoth is basically Satan/Lucifer in this story, and after Morgoth is imprisoned forever by the Valar, they also reward the faithful houses of Men, by creating a land in between Middle-earth and Valinor called Numenor.
Their King Elros, the twin brother of Elrond, who chose to be mortal, while his brother chose the Elven life, is the ruler of this new Kingdom. Elros takes command of the three loyal houses of Men of which he has ancestry in all and they are both given the gift of Numenor itself and also granted an especially long life for mortal Man also. Elros himself lived for around 500 years and ruled as King for well over 400 years. All people of Numenor had long life granted, but the direct descendants of Elros himself longer still, (Aragorn is a descendant of Elros).
Numenor advances into the greatest super power of the known world (save the Valar in Valinor themselves). Even Sauron, with the One Ring in his possession, is soundly defeated by the Numenorean’s in his first War of the Ring.
The Corruption of Numenor by Sauron
The show could begin with Sauron’s second attempt to conquer Middle-earth. The Numenoreans have been staying away from Middle-earth for many years and sensing an opportunity, Sauron has been advancing once more and taking over their former strongholds. The people of Numenor have grown restless with their gifts, many, despite their long life have become fearful of death, which has in turn shortened their life span and they have grown reclusive and distrustful of Elves.
However, they are far stronger than ever before as a military force, and a new King has just been crowned, Ar-Pharazon, who usurped the throne from his cousin the rightful heir. Hearing of Sauron’s exploits, Ar-Pharazon decides to take him down a peg or two, and sends a massive show of force to Middle-earth. Seeing the futility of fighting this battle, Sauron then does something unexpected. He surrenders personally and pledges fealty to Ar-Pharazon, appearing to him in a fair guise as a kind and knowledgeable man. Ar-Pharazon in his arrogance decides to accept, and takes Sauron to Numenor as his servant, a stupid move as he forgets that Sauron is not Mannish or Elven, he is a powerful Maiar from Valinor. Only the Valar themselves are more powerful than Sauron, who was the chief Lieutenant of Morgoth in the First Age.
This is as Sauron planned, if you cannot beat Numenor by force, then corrupt it from within. The show could follow Ar-Pharazon as he is slowly corrupted by Sauron along with the other people of Numenor, partly by their own insecurities and arrogance and partly due to Sauron’s use of the One Ring to sway them to his way of thinking.
It does not take long for Sauron to corrupt them. He becomes advisor to Ar-Pharazon, and with his knowledge he helps to make them even more powerful than they were before. Numenor starts to raid Middle-earth for gold and supplies and eventually Men. Eventually Sauron undermines the religion and spreads lies about the history of the world and their forefathers, beginning to get the Numenoreans to worship Melkor (The old original name of Morgoth) with human sacrifices captured in Middle-earth.
As such, Ar-Pharazon becomes the greatest tyrant the world has seen since Morgoth himself, with Sauron orchestrating everything from his new place as High Priest of Numenor. But there are loyal men of Numenor who resist and refuse to worship Melkor. The group are few compared to the many who have turned and are led by Elendil himself (first King of Gondor). Sauron plays his endgame when he has completely taken over Numenor by convincing the aging King Ar-Pharazon to attack Valinor itself. Sauron has convinced the King that they key to immortality lies in Valinor, and that even the Valar will fall against the power of Numenor, and be forced to allow the Numenoreans access to the immortality of that realm.
In reality, Sauron is well aware of the power of the Valar, as one of Morgoth’s servants he witnessed this power first hand. Sauron wants the Valar to crush the Numenoreans completely, so that they cannot again thwart his plans to rule Middle-earth.
The show could lead up to this point across several seasons showing the slow fall from grace of Numenor and the struggles of the few who remained loyal to the Valar, the end point being the invasion of Valinor, the result of which causes the Valar, who (unknown to Sauron) have no dominion over Man, to give up their rule of Arda (Earth) and ask Illuvatar (God) to provide judgement, and take action for the first time since the world was made.
Illuvatar does indeed destroy the fleet of Numenor in a watery grave, but he also sinks the land of Numenor completely and removes Valinor so that mortal Men cannot ever again go directly to it by ship. The faithful, led by Elendil, have been forewarned and they escape the destruction of Numenor in ships set sail for Middle-earth. Sauron himself is in Numenor during the cataclysm, and as such, his body is destroyed utterly, leaving his spirit alone to cling to the One Ring. Sauron’s spirit returns to Mordor where his servants have been awaiting his return. Though with the power of the One he can again take shape, he can never again take on a fair and kind looking guise, always he looks now like the misshapen evil thing he has become.
As Sauron begins his third War of the Rings on Middle-earth, the surviving Numenorean’s arrive in Middle-earth and begin the Kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor, with Elendil ruling in Gondor as high King and his son Isildur ruling in Arnor. The events from this point then lead up to the last alliance of Men and Elves as depicted in the prologue of The Fellowship of the Ring. After battling both Gil-Galad and Elendil until all three were spent, Isildur uses his Father’s broken sword to cut the One Ring from Sauron’s finger. The trauma of this destroys the body of Sauron once more and his weakened spirit goes off to hide far away, but this time, the One Ring is not with him. We know the story of Isildur from here, of course, as it is told in the movie.
This entire chain of events takes place roughly within the period of 100-200 years. Yes, there would be some gaps at times, but the only other time so many famous events happen in such a short timescale is the last 150 years of the First Age or The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings stories.
The other advantage of a show set in this period would be the ability to have Sauron as one of the main characters, he takes on the guise of a man throughout this time until Numenor is destroyed. What a part that would be for an actor out there. Ar-Pharazon as the power mad tyrant King with Sauron bending his ear and Elendil leading the persecuted faithful heirs of Elros.
Sounds like perfect TV material to me, and the budget wouldn’t be crazy other than the beginning and end of the story. They could also explore the First Age of Tolkien as Sauron perverts the facts to his own cause and initiates the worship of Melkor.
To add to the possibility of this time period being explored, it falls in line with the original report that this series would explore new storylines preceding The Fellowship of the Ring.
Tolkienists and other readers, what do you think? Are there other periods you think could be covered without the rights to The Silmarillion that I have missed. Is there something you would rather see from another time period in Middle-earth? Let us know below. We will of course update you with anything we hear about this new show, but it may well be some time before we get any concrete information to share.
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The Silmarillion Rights Issue
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