The Bizarre Reason The Rings Of Power Made A Massive Change To The Story

The Rings of Power made Mordor a wasteland, contrary to the original writing of J.R.R. Tolkien, in order to emphasize the theme of environmentalism.

By Sean Thiessen | Published

rings of power

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is the most watched show on Amazon Prime Video, but the series is not without its critics. Many fans have chided the series’ departures from author J.R.R Tolkien’s source material. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, The Rings of Power showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay explained their reason for one of those changes: the transformation of Mordor from an idyllic countryside to an ashen hellscape.

In The Rings of Power, the area that would become Sauron’s base of operations began as a beautiful place. Orcs then dug a tunnel into a volcano and flooded it with water, igniting an eruption that desolated the surrounding landscape. According to Payne and McKay, this choice was grounded in the environmentalist spirit of Tolkien’s original works.

“A huge theme in Tolkien is the environmentalism and the way machines and industrializations destroys the land,” McKay told The Hollywood Reporter. “So in the writers room, we asked: What if Mordor was beautiful? All bucolic like Switzerland. And then what could happen that could transform it?” While Payne and McKay followed the spirit of Tolkien’s work with their take on the origins of Mordor, The Rings of Power departs from the author’s canonical account of Sauron’s home base.

According to the history of Middle Earth established by Tolkien in The Silmarillion, the great fires are what drew Sauron to the volcano Orodruin, which the Elves had named long before. Tolkien’s son, Christopher, wrote in The Peoples of Middle-Earth that the eruptions of Orodruin originated not with Sauron, but with the dark deeds of Melkor in the First Age (The Rings of Power takes place in the Second Age, and The Lord of the Rings in the Third).

Mordor’s beginning as a lovely land is only one of the canonical liberties The Rings of Power took when adapting Tolkien’s source material. The series additionally truncated aspects of Middle Earth’s timeline in order to clarify its storytelling, and diversified its cast in ways never before seen in LOTR stories.

rings of power
An orc from Rings of Power

Amazon has indicated that it hears the outraged LOTR fans and will take ubiquitous feedback into consideration, but the studio is proud of what the show has accomplished and is confident in the story that Payne and McKay are telling. So much so that it doubled down on its massive investment by renewing the show for a second season.

Production for the sequel season to The Rings of Power began in October of 2022. A release date for its next episodes has not been announced, but the show is not expected to return until some time in 2024.

The first season of The Rings of Power set records for spending and viewership at Amazon. Though hardcore fans of Tolkien’s literary universe have taken issue with the adaptation, the show has been largely well received. The first season ended with big reveals and setups for an even more epic continuation, and regardless of how it started, the desolate version of Mordor fans are used to is here to stay.