Amazon Prime Video’s The Rings of Power is inviting Tolkien fans — and fantasy fans in general — back to Middle-earth for a new adventure in a new age, but while the setting is familiar, this story comes with a crop of characters you’ve never heard of before. We’re talking lady dwarves and elf kings. Honestly, it’s a lot to keep up with, so we’ve rounded up the main players of Middle-earth this time around.
Feel free to bookmark this and come back to it anytime you forget the difference between a Harfoot and a Hobbit.
Galadriel (Morfydd Clark)
Galadriel is one of the few characters fans of Peter Jackson’s original trilogy will recognize in this new tale of Middle-earth. In those films, she was played by Cate Blanchett as a wise and all-powerful high elf in possession of one of the rings of power but here, she’s a warrior on a quest for vengeance after the death of her brother. Galadriel can sense Sauron’s rise to power before most of her kind, but she struggles to convince the rest of Middle-earth that evil still exists. She’s prideful and single-minded in her pursuit of the Dark Lord, traits that make her a bit of an outcast when fans first meet her, but she’s got an important role to play in the war to come.
Elrond (Robert Aramayo)
Another familiar name on Team Elf is Elrond, first played by Hugo Weaving in Jackson’s films. He’s quite younger and less experienced in this series, though he’s still a bookworm who is obsessed with elf lore and learning how to play the game of politics in Lindon – the elven realm where we first see him. Elrond’s father is a bit of a mythical hero who had a big role to play in defeating the evil of the First Age which means he’s got big shoes to fill and he’s fairly uncertain about how to do that until he’s tasked with stewarding the creation of the rings of power. And, well, we all know how that turns out.
Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova)
While the rest of the elves on this show hail from royal blood, Arondir is a simple silvan elf, a foot soldier compared to the kings and ladies that live in Lindon. He’s stationed in the Southlands where he watches over human villages who aligned with Sauron during the First Age. There’s a simmering hostility between men and elves in those parts which makes Arondir’s secret relationship with a human healer named Bronwyn even more dangerous but a mysterious new threat emerges that takes precedent over their doomed romances.
Gil-galad (Benjamin Walker)
Gil-galad had a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in Jackson’s first film, and his name crops up again in stories and poems recited by a certain hobbit so it doesn’t feel like too big a spoiler to say that Gil-galad is going to have a rough time of things on this show. As the Elf King of Lindon who’s blessed (cursed?) with the gift of foresight, he knows that Sauron is quietly gaining power which is why he tries to unite the peoples of Middle-earth with the creation of those damned rings. Of course, things inevitably go bad, but before they do, Gil-galad does his best to protect Middle-earth, even if he makes some questionable decisions along the way.
Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards)
Celebrimbor is the famed forger of the rings of power but when we first meet him, he’s just a plucky old elf with a talent for crafting all sorts of weapons and armory for his people. He works with Elrond to mold each of the 13 rings but he’s inevitably tricked by Sauron into crafting one ring that rules them all. Poor guy.
Durin IV (Owain Arthur)
Tolkien fans have only ever seen the great halls of Khazad-dûm, a.k.a. Moria, decimated, deserted, and left to ruin. It’s where the hobbits journeyed in Jackson’s first film and where Gandalf the Grey battled a particularly nasty Balrog. But in Rings of Power, Khazad-dûm is a thriving dwarfdom and Durin IV is its king. Durin, like all of the other dwarves we’ve met in the past, is proud, passionate, and a bit reckless.
Disa (Sophia Nomvete)
Before the show cast the character of Disa, we weren’t sure female dwarves actually existed. Yes, Tolkien writes about them, but we’d never seen a dwarf woman on screen before and they’ve taken on a bit of a mythic quality that Jackson’s many films liked to poke fun at. But The Rings of Power has promised us lady dwarves, in the flesh, and Disa is one of them – the queen of Khazad-dûm who has a playful relationship with her husband and, yes, sideburns to match.
Nori Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenagh)
Sadly, Hobbits did not exist in Tolkien’s Second Age but their nomadic ancestors, the Harfoots, did. The main difference between the two seems to be their traveling lifestyle. While Hobbits were happy to keep to the Shire, Harfoots like to stretch their legs a bit more, moving from place to place while avoiding the “Big Folk.” But even amongst these wanderers, Nori Brandyfoot is different. More adventurous, fearless, and willing to leave the safety of her home to explore the great unknown.
Sadoc Burrows (Lenny Henry)
The leader of Nori’s traveling band of Harfoots, Sadoc Burrows is charged with keeping his people safe, mostly from threats originating from the “Big Folk.” He’s got a tome he consistently checks to predict dangers and, when this story begins, it’s got a lot to say about a mysterious man who happens to fall from the sky.
Míriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson)
Another mythical city Tolkien fans have yet to see on screen is the island kingdom of Númenor and, when Rings of Power premieres, this fabled realm is ruled over by Míriel, a Queen Regent who’s struggling to keep her people peaceful. Like her citizens, Míriel is of human and elven descent and the tensions between the two races seem to be the root of the problem she’s facing.
Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi)
A healer and single mother, Bronwyn was born and raised in the Southlands and, though her ancestors sided with Sauron, she’s decidedly against another war. While she does strike up a relationship with Arondir, she also battles back against the idea that her people deserve to be oppressed and controlled because of the sins committed in the First Age.
Isildur (Maxim Baldry)
You’ve likely heard the name Isildur before. It’s one that pops up often in Tolkien’s writings and Jackson’s films, but here, Isildur isn’t the founding father of Gondor (the kingdom of men) and he hasn’t yet sliced off the hand of Sauron, robbing him of his powerful ring. Instead, he’s just a young sailor living in Númenor, trying to provide for his father and sister while feeling destined for more than a life at sea.
Pharazôn (Trystan Gravelle)
A cousin of Queen Míriel, Pharazôn is remembered as the last king of Númenor but for now, he’s just another politician, albeit a powerful one. Pharazôn is Míriel’s right hand and instrumental in trying to forge peace between the warring factions of his city.
Halbrand (Charlie Vickers)
We likely won’t know who Halbrand is until this show wants us to. For now, we can confidently say he’s a man who meets Galadriel while the two are stranded at sea and he has a role to play in her journey to Númenor.
‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ debuts via Amazon on September 2nd.