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 upcoming LOTR show - the Second Age of Middle-earth timeline.
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 new Lord of the Rings series 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.