All About Middle-earth's Second Age, The Setting For Amazon's 'The Rings of Power'

Amazon's upcoming epic fantasy series is set in the same universe as the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Although exact details about the show still aren't available, the new Lord of the Rings series is set during Middle-earth's Second Age. While the Second Age is familiar to readers of J.R.R. Tolkien's works, this news has many wondering how long the Second Age was, what happened during its timeline, and how it ties into The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

When J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, he fleshed out the mythology of Middle-earth to a time before Middle-earth even existed. The Second Age was the second of four major ages in the history of Middle-earth. It was the time when Middle-earth started to transform into the world familiar to the readers of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, seeing everything from the first rise of Sauron, to the creation of all the Rings of Power, to the creation of the Ringwraiths. The entire period lasted over 3,400 years.

Here's everything you need to know about the backdrop of Amazon's LOTR show, The Rings of Power - the Second Age of Middle-earth timeline.

Photo:

  • The Second Age Began 587 Years After The World Was Created

    First, "Middle-earth" is not the name of the world where The Lord of the Rings takes place. Middle-earth is just one continent on a planet called Arda. 

    The Rings of Power takes place during Arda's Second Age, 587 years after the creation of Arda itself. Arda's timeline began when the creator god Eru Ilúvatar willed the planet into existence, which also marked the start of the First Age. Originally, Arda wasn't a sphere, but a flat disc-like world.

    After creating Arda, Eru then created many of the races familiar to the readers of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, including Elves, Dwarves, and Men (or humans). 

    Eru also created several classes of sub-gods and powerful immortals called Ainur to help manage Arda, although the creator deity did influence Arda directly on occasion over the next several thousand years. Inevitably, some of Eru's creations rebelled, and this led to wars.

    Most of the events of the First Age are covered in detail in The Silmarillion.

  • The Second Age Began When Morgoth Was Banished

    Eru Ilúvatar created two groups of supernatural beings during the First Age. One was the Valar - 15 powerful beings with god-like powers that could shape Middle-earth. The most powerful Valar was Melkor, who would later be known as Morgoth, the source of all evil. (One thing to note: In Tolkien's mythology, when a deity or supernatural being undergoes a transformation, they usually get a new name.)  

    During the First Age, Melkor/Morgoth rebelled against Eru and tried to corrupt Middle-earth. The rest of the Valar managed to stop Morgoth and defeat him in the War of Wrath. The Valar then banished Morgoth to a timeless void. 

    Morgoth's defeat ended the First Age, but the conflict had lasting consequences that would play out in the Second Age and beyond. 

  • Sauron Was One Of Morgoth's Lieutenants And Carried On His Goals

    In addition to the Valar, the other class of primordial beings Eru created were the Maiar. They were more like powerful spirits, and they served many functions. Some Maiar, like Sauron, served Morgoth. Another subclass of the Maiar, the Istari, became the five Wizards of the Third Age, one of whom was Gandalf. 

    Sauron was a lesser divine being who existed before the First Age. His original name was Mairon, and he was a skilled blacksmith. He was also a servant to Melkor and remained his ally after he became Morgoth. Although Mairon was originally peaceful, his obsession with order made him sympathetic to the Dark Lord's plans to either conquer or destroy Middle-earth. During the First Age, Mairon/Sauron deceived the Valar and spied on them on Morgoth's behalf. Deception and manipulation were always two of Sauron's go-to moves. 

    After the Valar and the combined Elf/human armies defeated Morgoth, Sauron tried to apologize to the Valar and reform his ways but was denied. Instead, he retreated to Middle-earth where he spent centuries hiding and gathering his strength. 

  • After The Edain's Home Was Brought Down, They Founded The Kingdom Of Numenor

    In the War of Wrath that saw the Valar finally defeat Morgoth and send Sauron into hiding, the Valar made alliances with several groups of both Elves and humans. The human coalition was made up of three related Houses, and they were all called the Edain. All three Houses assisted in Morgoth's defeat. 

    But while the Valar/Elf/Edain side won the War of Wrath, they also paid a price. Beleriand, the Edain's home continent situated northwest of Middle-earth, was nearly submerged in a massive flood. The conflict also nearly wiped out one of the Edain Houses. The remaining two, the Hador and the Bëor, merged to form one tribe. This tribe settled on the islands of Numenor and became the Dunedain. They're the major human political faction in the Second Age and beyond. Aragorn is their long-lost descendant. 

  • Most Elves Lived In Lindon, But Others Lived Across Middle-earth 

    When the continent of Beleriand was flooded, the only inhabitable region was called Lindon, far to the west. This is where many of the Elves who fought in the war resettled. During the Second Age, the majority of Elves lived in the Kingdom of Lindon. (Lindon is also home to the Grey Havens, the port where Frodo, Bilbo, and Gandalf set sail to the Undying Lands at the end of Return of the King.)

    About 700 years after the start of the Second Age, an Elf prince from Lindon, Celebrimbor, sailed east and founded a new Elf kingdom in Middle-earth, near the Misty Mountains. Celebrimbor was also a master craftsman, and some considered him the best of all time. The kingdom of Eregion made an alliance with the Dwarven civilization of Khazad-dûm. This gave Celebrimbor access to mithril, a magical metal. (Fun fact: Bilbo and later Frodo's armor is made of this.)

  • Sauron Tricked The Elves Into Creating The Rings Of Power

    After Morgoth's defeat, Sauron spent the first 500 years of the Second Age in a dormant state. Then, he emerged in Middle-earth and spent the next 500 years establishing the kingdom of Mordor. Most of his first subjects were humans who worshipped him as a god. 

    About 1,000 years into the Second Age, Sauron was officially the second Dark Lord of Middle-earth and the ruler of his own kingdom, but he was just one ruler among dozens of rulers around the world. Like Morgoth before him, Sauron wanted to take over Middle-earth. But Sauron's plan differed in one major way: He wanted to take over Middle-earth by controlling people's minds. To do this, he would create the Rings of Power, which he would use to dominate the rulers of the different free kingdoms of Middle-earth.

    But Sauron couldn't do this himself. He needed the help of Elf blacksmiths. Sauron took on the form of Annatar, a benevolent messenger of the Valar, and pitched his plan to the leaders of the Kingdom of Lindon, including its ruler Gil-galad, as well as Elrond and Galadriel. They were suspicious and passed. Sauron then took the idea to Celebrimbor, who agreed. With Sauron's help, Celebrimbor created 19 Rings of Power: three for the Elf kingdoms, seven for the Dwarves, and nine for the human rulers. 

    These 19 Rings of Power gave their owners powerful abilities. The Dwarves used them to mine their treasure supplies and the humans used them to become powerful sorcerers. But they had another secret purpose that became clear later.