Story Review: The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power Season 1

When I first heard about this show, my immediate reaction was hesitancy followed up by fear for what they would do to the story I grew up with. The Lord of the Rings was always a very special story to me as it heavily influenced my own writing and the themes I love to see. I love stories that focus on hope against all odds and characters both grand and small finding their courage to stand against evil. While Rings of Power hadn’t quite captured that ethereal and timeless feel of The Lord of the Rings, there is a glimmer of promise and the potential hope that this series could be great.

Character Development

Like many tv shows these days, Rings of Power focuses on several different characters almost simultaneously. While this can be a benefit, there’s also a bit of a danger behind splitting the focus so heavily. With Rings of Power, it could be said that Galadriel is the main character and she definitely gets a good amount of screen time to show it. The only issue is that, despite how long the story felt and everything Galadriel had gone through, it didn’t quite feel like she changed much as a character from the beginning to the end. The story starts out with her as a strong elven warrior sure of her cause to eradicate evil from Middle-Earth and ends with her mostly the same. Not to say that no revelations occur or deep character moments happen, it’s just that Galadriel doesn’t seem to change much as they happen.

What’s strange is that almost every other major character seems to undergo some massive character development and changes as the story progresses. It’s just a shame that most of these characters, aside from Elrond and Durin, feel strangely inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. While Elrond and Durin have a fascinating friendship dynamic that really builds upon the world of elves and dwarves and what feels like the world of Middle Earth, the others are kind of just there. Arondir, Bronwyn, Theo and the Southlands arc of Rings of Power is alright if a bit hard to care about the characters other than that they are the focus of that arc. Despite the Southlands being an interesting story beat because of the orcs, the humans and elves being the protagonists feel a bit lacking in comparison. The same can be said of the Stranger and the Harfoots. While they do change as the season progresses, it’s hard to really find them endearing like the hobbits from The Lord of the Rings.

But as mentioned before, the Elrond and Durin friendship dynamic is quite fascinating and intriguing both because they are excellent characters but also because of how the two races acknowledge one another. The moments of reunion, joy, tears, pain and anguish are all so excellently written and acted that it strengthens the arcs and makes those two my favorite despite the fact that the arc is more focused on dialogue and discussion. It’s the one part of the show where the exceptionally slow pace of the series really does help flesh out their story and make them endearing.


There is a saying that less is more and Rings of Power also proved that the reverse can be true. The length of Season 1 was so unnecessarily long that it created a slow and meandering, almost painfully boring pace at times. There were plenty of times where moments of the story felt more akin to padding the length of it rather than to develop the characters, the world or the main story further. Now regardless of medium, when there’s a large chunk of a story that’s hard for people to get through, they’re more likely to drop the story. Everyone’s tolerance is different for this. I like to think my own is quite high but Rings of Power really tested the limits of my own attention.

The entirety of the Harfoot story arc just felt so meandering and aimless that I was often tempted to skip those segments. It’s not as interesting as the other arcs nor does it feel like it contributes to the overall story focus except for the very end. It’s difficult when that story arc feels so removed from the other three story arcs. The Southlands interesting if the characters aren’t as great while Galadriel and her journey has it’s ups and downs in terms of intrigue and excitement. But all of these arcs, save for the Elrond and Durin arc, could have been cut down significantly to tell and engaging and more attention retaining story. The incredibly slow pace of the story is easily it’s worst attribute.


I was genuinely surprised by how the worldbuilding in Rings of Power was not as bad as I expected it to be. The main fear I had was that, for a lack of a better word and as far as I’m aware, the majority of what we’re seeing is a kind of fan fiction of this era of Middle-Earth. It’s mostly based on the appendices of The Lord of the Rings so there was room for a lot of liberties to be taken. Thankfully though the Tolkien estate had final veto on anything that went too far against Tolkien’s work and characterization. For the most part, it’s not too far from the realm of possibility of being real Middle-Earth history.

Now there is an elephant in the room that needs to be addressed as it’s been a constant criticism I’ve seen regarding the show. The inclusion of people of colour in Middle-Earth has been a rather divisive topic and one that merits discussion I feel. I don’t oppose the inclusion of diversity as I find representation in media to be very important but it needs to be done in a way that makes sense. In the case of Rings of Power, Tolkien had always intended for Middle-Earth to be a kind of fantasy history of Europe and, historically speaking, most of Europe has been predominantly white. It’s also especially weird when you consider that, while there’s people of colour in Rings of Power, you don’t see them in The Lord of the Rings. I couldn’t help but feel this had some bad implications I couldn’t help but consider.

However Rings of Power also has a pretty good case of representation in the form of Númenor. Being that it’s essentially an Island with a lot of ships which heavily implies trade allows for a variety of people and cultures to intermingle. In Tolkien’s world, Middle-Earth was always implied to be part of a larger world that was never really explored in The Lord of the Rings outside of the mercenaries who fought for Sauron. There was a lot of potential to imply other kingdoms or nations in the broader world rather than simply putting in characters of colour. Do I think it was a bad thing? No not at all but I do think it was a rather lazy way to go about it.

Regarding the worldbuilding within the story, for the most part, it was quite good. While the Southlands and the Harfoot storylines aren’t as strong as the others, they do a good job in developing their respective cultures and locations. Where the worldbuilding really shines however is in the Elrond and Durin storyline as there’s an exploration of the Elven-Dwarven relationship, Dwarven politics, and the Elven people’s role in Middle-Earth. It is easily the most impressive bit of writing in Rings of Power. Unfortunately Númenor is not as well developed as it could have been, feeling very out of place and almost too modern to fit into Middle-Earth. There was an especially awkward and unnecessary moment that was included to reflect modern day politics in the real world that had no business being in the show.


P.S: Trying out a new format for story reviews rather than only book reviews but will mostly do book reviews. This is more for one off things that catch my interest. 😊

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s