With every adaptation of a franchise from novel to screen, it is almost certain there will be some controversy with the fans.
The new LoTR series produced by Amazon, 'The Rings of Power', is no exception to this rule. Before it was even released, rumors of disagreements with Tolkien experts, plus concerns about the show's direction began to circulate. Early promotional images had fans worried. And the lacklustre reception to the inordinately long Hobbit film trilogy made fans anxious about any continuing adaptations of LoTR.
To Amazon's credit, from what we have seen so far they have achieved a phenomenal effort of recreating Middle-Earth as Tolkien imagined it. However, to create a realistic plot surrounding the events referred to in the books (and to the dismay of some of the fans), the show has changed some vital elements of the much-loved fantasy universe. The self-appointed 'Tolkien authority', has been keen to point out the number of inconsistencies between the lore and the series. Whether they were done by design or unintentionally. Here is a general summary of everything the show has changed so far.
One of the first distinctions between the series and the books that were scrutinised straight away was the portrayal of Galadriel. The character as depicted in the show is represented more as a warrior. Clearly indicated from the outset, Galadriel addresses herself as the 'leader of the northern armies of Lindon'. Her fighting and strategic abilities are plainly demonstrated. Plus she has the hot-headed attitude to follow it. For anyone familiar with her character from either the books or films (most notably played by Kate Blanchett), both her personality and appearance are considerably different. Her character is never demonstrated as a fighter, although she is known to be powerful. She is often depicted as graceful and wise.
Of course, the show is set much before the time of the Galadriel we are accustomed to. Truthfully, the books speak very little of her from this period. We know that according to her history, she should be married to Celeborn, her elven husband by now. But her involvement in the events of the Second Age is rarely mentioned specifically. This is the first immediate example of Amazon's use of the creative licence.
The inclusion of the Harfoots
Right from the outset, it was clear that the Harfoots would be an integral part of the series' plot. Harfoots, as described by Tolkien, are an early type of Hobbit. The ancestors of halflings would eventually include Frodo, Sam, Pippin, and Merry, who appeared in the LoTR trilogy. Considering the significance of Hobbits throughout the other works of Tolkien, it is unsurprising to see them represented in the show. However, neither Hobbits nor Harfoots were ever noted as having any kind of significance in the events of the Second Age. Especially to do with the creation of the rings of power or the rise of Sauron. Therefore, many remain sceptical of the direction of the plot that will evolve around this featured tribe of Harfoots. Have they been included just for familiarity's sake?
Months instead of centuries
What is considered the biggest alteration of all is the change of dates within the chronology of events. Although the series is staying mostly true to the history of the Second Age, the timespan in which these occurrences take place is severely reduced. The entirety of the age is supposed to last 3,441 years. However, if the story proceeds to show the creation of the rings of power and Sauron's forging of the one ring, then it will either have to jump large periods or reduce the scale in which these incidents take place.
Already there are many examples within the show which demonstrate a difference in the sequence of events. The establishment of Numenor suggests that the show exists in an earlier time of the Second Age. And yet we have skipped several Numenorean Kings. With Isildur already present as a character who should not be born until much later into the period. It does have to be considered that it is difficult to adapt such a story for television, which is intended to exist for thousands of years. The compressing of time is possibly the only way Amazon could tell their story as accurately as possible. And validates such a vast change to the novels' original principles.
Despite that dwarves were not a major element of the LOTR trilogy (we'll never forget Gimli of course), they were much more a significant presence within the story of The Hobbit. This is where Tolkien provided the most explanation concerning dwarven culture and history. Therefore some clearly bold changes to some key dwarven characters have made it clear the show is going against the narrative of the source material where it chooses to.
One big example of this was the introduction of the prince of the dwarves and friend to Elrond, Durin IV. Although his existence alone within the series is not to be contended with, the existence of his father king Durin III is. A key characteristic mentioned within Middle-Earth lore is the existence of Durin I. Durin was the eldest of the first dwarves ever to be created by the Vala. He is noted as the father of the Durin-folk. And was meant to have lived much longer than any other Dwarf. Many believed he would be reincarnated multiple times, and those descendants would be king. This is the reason for both Durin III and VI namesakes. And makes the concept of both characters living at the same time not only a change from the source material but confusing.
The existence of multiple Durins isn't the only discrepancy with the dwarves' depiction. Although there are no major female dwarven characters to feature in Tolkien's story, he does make reference to them in a number of places as having beards. Therefore the inclusion of Durin IV's wife Disa, who is depicted as beardless, created quite a stir. Of course, reviewing the details of Dwarven women by Tolkien you find that the mentioning of beards is infrequent. And much of what is detailed is written with his other works, which Amazon did not purchase the rights to. Maybe this particular detail was left out due to copyright instead of any creative decisions.
Ongoing changes in the series
Any further alterations The Rings of Power will make cannot be speculated for the moment. As fans continue to follow the series, they will have to continue to accept or deny the show's interpretation of this Tolkien-esque tale for themselves. The amount of kickback that Amazon will receive will depend on how closely they can stay to the remainder of the source material. And if their reimagining of Middle-Earth will be committed enough to keep the attention of fans for much longer.