Way-Too-Early Reactions to THE RINGS OF POWER

Another week, another multi-hundred million dollar budgeted TV show based on an iconic fantasy author’s universe.

The Rings of Power is the primary show I have been awaiting all year. Of all the MCU, Star Wars, and other mega-IP content to debut this year, I have had the highest hopes and most weighty expectations for Amazon’s foray into Tolkien’s universe.

Part of that is due to history. The massive narrative history of Middle Earth, and the surrounding historiography of it, is an obvious choice for “spin-offs”. Christopher Tolkien himself published stories based on unfinished drafts in his father’s notes.

Another part of my weighty expectations for this show come from a much more recent benchmark. Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy is epic filmmaking at its finest, a wondrous cinematic adaptation that is just as affecting twenty years later as it was when I sat in the theater at thirteen for Fellowship.

The showrunners for The Rings of Power made a pretty big gamble when they decided to set their series in the Second Age of Middle Earth, thousands of years before most of the characters whom casual fans would know were alive. Middle Earth itself is quite different at this time.

Through two episodes (which is all I’ve seen so far) I’m already getting nostalgia-driven chills when I watch this show. The costumes, the music, the dialog, the settings all feel like Tolkien, and crucially, like the Tolkien we were introduced to in Jackson’s trilogy.

The Rings of Power, wisely, is speaking the same visual and emotional language as it’s cinematic predecessor. When I see characters in thematic clothes, I don’t just see generic fantasy brings. I know them as Noldor Elves, dwarfs of the line of Durin, and yes, even Harfoots, who feel just enough like their descendant hobbits to be recognizable, without feeling copied.

So, this show has already fixed itself squarely within the look and feel of Middle Earth.

I also find the beginning of the story and the characters driving it to be quite compelling.

As usual, I will not get into an episode recap, so I’ll just say that I already feel attached to and invested in Galadriel, Nori, and Arondir as they traverse differing plot lines that seem to be pointing in the same direction: the rise of the shadow after centuries of relative peace.

I don’t know how much more I can say without getting too deep into the details and ending up with 5,000 words for this post.

The showrunners took a big gamble with this show, especially with Amazon beating down their necks looking for a smash hit. Two episodes in, I feel like it’s already paying off.

I’m so excited to continue watching.

Steve D

September Write Day: Time for a Reset

I can’t recall much of August, except for a couple of things that seemed to take up most of my mental capacity for the month.

Last Month’s Goals

  1. Write 4,800 words.
  2. Take the next writing step.
  3. Read 3 books.
  4. Exercise 3 times per week.

So where are we at?

Write 4,800 words?

No. I think a fair bit of it had to do with stress from work distracting me. I had a big presentation and a work trip within a week of each other towards the end of the month, and I think these were just hanging over me. I could feel it during the work day, and it bled into non-work things.

I’ve felt much better overall now that I’m over those hurdles.

And yet I have been unable to craft a decent ending to New Earth, The Herb Witch Tales #2. I generally know how I want this story to land, but I’ve become stuck on the mechanics. I’m thinking I need to step back from this story for a bit until I can work out the ending.

Take the next writing step?

No, but I think that’s what I need to focus on for this month. As I said above, I’m going to step back from New Earth and focus on something different for a change. Switching projects can often be refreshing.

Alternative projects include:

  • Transcribing notes from a small bear up journal into a newer nice one
  • Revisiting my partial draft of The Warden of Everfeld: Legacy to outline that novel.

I honestly haven’t yet decided what I’m going to work on, and I’m okay with that. It could be a little bit of everything.

Read three books?

No. I’m 100ish pages into A Memory of Light, the final book in The Wheel of Time, and I find myself not rushing through it. I’m definitely enjoying reading it. I guess I just don’t want to gloss over sections just to get to the end.

Exercise three times per week?

I’m getting there, but not quite there. I like my mini routine and may be looking for something additive this month.

Goals for September

  1. Progress my writing. Honestly, I just want to pick away at one of the projects I mentioned above. No quantitative goals. Just forward movement to keep my brain working.
  2. Read 3 books. We’ll see. I definitely want to read more things. I’m just not holding myself to finishing A Memory of Light, so I’ll need to find something else.
  3. Exercise 3 times per week. Same same. Like my other two goals, this is more about consistency than anything else.

Steve D

Way-Too-Early Reactions to HOUSE OF THE DRAGON

It’s official. We’re back in Westeros after a 6-year hiatus from decent storytelling in George R.R. Martin’s fantasy universe.

As the first spin-off show we’re getting in the wake of Game of Thrones, I’ve been cautiously optimistic about this House of the Dragon.

With director Miguel Sapochnik, who directed several of Thrones‘s most harrowing and exciting episodes (see “Hardhome” and “Battle of the Bastards”), Martin himself more closely involved once again, and a star-studded cast, I felt like House of the Dragon had legitimate potential to be great.

After the debut episode, “Heirs of the Dragon”, all I can say is… I think I was right.

This premier introduced a set of characters who are poised to clash politically — or otherwise — and laid the groundwork for the rest of the season in an interesting way. They even managed to introduce a bit of lore that even the most ardent of book-readers could not have guessed.

I will not go into detail about the plot of the episode except to say that there is a jousting tournament with phenomenal cinematography and some pretty brutal violence. (The jousting show at the Maryland Renaissance Faire is one of my favorite events of the year, so I was thrilled to see such an exhilarating sequence in this show.)

I had honestly forgotten how unforgiving the early seasons of Game of Thrones could be, so to see it again in this premier was a bit of a shock.

While I have read part of The World of Ice and Fire, and Fire and Blood sits on my unread shelf, I’ve decided not to follow along with Martin’s writings while watching this show. I want to experience the show for its own merits, and then read the stories again.

Between the intriguing cast of characters, the tight-knit plot, the broader narrative it introduced, and the incredible looking dragons (more than one!), it’s apparent that the showrunners have set out to prove that the expanding Thrones-verse is still a force to be reckoned within the IP-as-content wars.

All in all, the showrunners have set the stage for what I anticipate will be an enjoyable, suspenseful, and action-packed season of television.

And of course, there are the dragons.

Share your thoughts or way-too-early reactions about this first episode of House of the Dragon in the comments below.

Steve D