Morfydd Clark as Young Galadriel in LOTR: The Rings of Power

Here’s The Lord Of The Rings Recap You Need Before Watching The Rings Of Power

You’ll want to keep this bookmarked.

by Ani Bundel
Matt Grace/Prime Video

From 2000 to 2003, the triple-release of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings changed the world of onscreen fantasy forever. Jackson returned to Middle-earth a decade later with The Hobbit trilogy. However, since then, the franchise has not been turned into a streaming series until now. Amazon Studio’s new prequel series, set before both trilogy of films, features some of the same characters audiences know and love from the movies. However, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings Of Power takes place in a distant past.

Everything to Remember About The Hobbit

Though Jackson’s LOTR trilogy was released an entire decade before his Hobbit films, author J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit first in 1937. Fantasy was not considered marketable to adults during that era, so the book was aimed at children. It introduced a world called Middle-earth, populated by different fantasy races. There are the peace-loving, pipe-smoking Hobbits; the mine-dwelling earth-loving Dwarves; the long-lived Elves who sailed here from the West and dream of returning someday. Readers meet a strange cave creature named Gollum with a ring that turns the wearer invisible and mysterious wizards.

In the Third Age, in 2941, Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit with more curiosity for adventure than is socially acceptable, is selected by wizard Gandalf the Grey to help a set of dwarves recover their treasure. (The dwarves are, in order, Dwalin, Balin, Kili, Fili, Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur.) Though he starts disrespected and ignored, Bilbo, with the help of the ring he picked up after Gollum dropped it, proves his worth. Along the way, he encounters trolls, giants, goblins, talking spiders, heroic eagles, wolf-wargs, a man who can assume bear form, and a friendly human named Bard. Finally, he confronts Smaug, the gold-hoarding dragon, defeats him, and gets the dwarves’ treasure back.

The Hobbit ends a year after the story started in the summer of 2942, with Bilbo writing his adventures in his hobbit hole, happy to be home. But the novel proved so popular that Tolkien’s publisher asked for a sequel.

Everything to Remember About The Lord of the Rings

What Tolkien wrote instead was The Lord of the Rings, a magnum opus released in 1954 to 1955, which retconned Bilbo’s magic ring into a much more significant threat. The One Ring was a Ring of Power that controlled all the other, lesser Rings of Power forged with it by the evil Lord Sauron. In the year 3001, Bilbo, now ill from years of possessing the ring, passes it to his adopted nephew Frodo before heading to live with the elves and get better.

Gandalf, worried about the ring, asks Aragorn, the heir of Isildur, who also resides with the elves, to find Gollum and explore the ring’s origins. It takes nearly 20 years before they confirm it is the One Ring. In 3017, when Frodo learns of the ring’s true nature, he, plus three other Hobbits (Merry Pippin and Sam), team up with Gandalf and Aragon to see the Elves, who are chased by the nine humans who wore the rings of power forged for men, now known as the Nazgul.

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Elrond, the head of the Elves, calls a Great Council with representatives from the other races: Gimli the Dwarf, Legolas the Elf, Boromir, human son of the Steward of Gondor. The group forms the fellowship to destroy the ring, and in the last days of 3018, head out to Mordor, where Sauron is growing in strength to toss the ring into the fires that forged it. The quest takes them across Middle-earth, encountering many of the same creatures as before.

Gandalf the Grey sacrifices himself and returns as Gandalf the White. They stay with another group of elves and meet Galadriel, who was once a bearer of an elven ring of power. They face an army of orcs at Helm’s Deep. Frodo convinces Gollum to help them and even starts calling him by his original name, Sméagol. Sam carries the ring for Frodo when he begins to falter, but in the end, they make it to Mordor. However, just as Frodo is about to fail to destroy the ring, Gollum bites it off his finger and falls into the fire, destroying the ring and Sauron with it.

Aragorn becomes king of Middle-earth, and the Fourth Age begins. The Elves all sail back West, taking Frodo (of the Nine Fingers) and Bilbo with them. The Dwarves return to their mountains, and peace is reestablished.

Everything to Know About the Second Age

Lord of the Rings: The Rings Of Power is set centuries before The Hobbit. The opening scenes occur almost a millennia before the Lord of the Rings (~8380 years, give or take), during the “Years of the Trees,” when Ents ruled. Galadriel, born in 1362, was still a child, and it would be another two hundred years before the creation of the Moon and the Sun.

The series fast forwards through the First Age and the battles with Morgoth that drove the Elves from Valinor. Morgoth’s foremost general, Sauron, rose during this era until the Elves defeated Morgoth at the end of the First Age in 590. However, as the first episode of The Rings of Power reveals, Galadriel did not believe Sauron was gone and spent the next few centuries rooting out his followers hunting him down.

According to the Timeline of Middle-earth project, Sauron’s official return to power begins 500 years into the Second Age. During this intervening period, when the series starts, the Elves declare mission accomplished and move to leave Middle-earth after ruling over humankind as punishment for siding with Morgoth and Sauron.

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Morgoth’s reign of terror destroyed the Dwarf cities; during this period, they migrated to cave-dwelling, the capital of which is Khazad-dûm. As for Wizards, they didn’t exist in Middle-earth yet. Wizards will arrive in Middle-earth circa the year 1000 in the Second Age, as Sauron’s strength grows, sent by the Ainur, who rule the Undying Lands.

Then there are Hobbits. Initially called Halflings, they rose around the same time as humankind, at the end of the First Age. During this era, there were three distinct nomadic tribes: the hole-dwelling Harfoots, the broader Stoors, and more adventurous Fallohides. The series premiere introduces the Harfoot clan, but the others won’t be far behind — Sméagol was of the Stoor family. Audiences should note that the tribes do not settle (or significantly intermarry) until well into the Third Age, so expect to see the different tribes through this series.

Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Season 1 continues with new episodes streaming every Friday on Prime Video.