Amazon's 'Lord of the Rings' Reveals When Series Takes Place

The Lord of the Rings-Fellowship of the Ring - Photofest - H 2018

As indicators of a still-distant series' story go, it's light. However, the newly active Twitter account for Amazon's Lord of the Rings series has dropped one potential marker for where — or more accurately, when — the show might be set.

The account, which was created in November but didn't tweet until Feb. 13, has racked up more than 14,000 followers as of publication time. Its first post was a quote from Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien: "I wisely started with a map."

On Friday came a picture of a map of Tolkien's Middle-earth, similar to one at the front of most editions of the books (albeit without labels for the various locales), and a link for users to browse through it.

What is perhaps more interesting, though, is the text accompanying the map picture — a line from Tolkien's epigraph that starts the LOTR saga: "Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky."

Amazon has said the series will take place before the events of The Fellowship of the Ring, the first of the LOTR novels. Peter Jackson adapted those books for his early 2000s movie trilogy, which takes place in Middle-earth's Third Age, per Tolkien's exhaustive history of the fictional world.

Amazon Studios has hired JD Payne and Patrick McKay (Star Trek 4) to develop the series but has otherwise kept quiet about details. Except, perhaps, for that line in the above-mentioned tweet.

The "Three Rings for the Elven-kings" line refers to Middle-earth's earlier Second Age, when the evil Sauron persuaded Elven smiths to create 16 rings — nine for the rulers of men, seven for Dwarves. Sauron himself forged the One Ring that would bring the holders of the others under his sway.

And, in fact, on March 7, Amazon revealed an updated map with a tweet saying "Welcome to the Second Age," confirming the timeframe for the series.

The three Elven rings were created by Elves prior to Sauron forging the others; when Sauron first put on the One Ring, the Elves found out immediately and took theirs off, causing the dark lord to declare war.

That's a fairly simplified version of events, but that chronology carries enough ties to the LOTR trilogy — two of the Elven rings eventually end up with Elrond and Galadriel (Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett in the films), and the Fellowship of the Ring film's prologue depicts Sauron falling — that it could form the spine of a series to play to the broad audience Amazon will be seeking for its extremely expensive undertaking.

The series is slated to go into production in 2019, per a deal Amazon made in acquiring the rights back in 2017. Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke has said she hopes to have it ready to premiere by 2021.

March 7, 8 a.m. Updated with confirmation of the Second Age timeframe.