Empire Magazine’s Rings of Power Covers
It’s been a while since we sad geeks have had new Rings of Power material to chew over. Well, now we do, courtesy of Empire Magazine, which in anticipation of a detailed article release on 9th June, has put out a series of associated covers:
My thoughts are overall positive. My easy favourite is the Dwarven cover – and it is not close. Food and wine upon a shining dining table, luxurious golden-themed background, and a happy royal couple. This is Khazad-dûm at the height of its power and wealth, contrasting sharply with the Moria of later eras or with Jackson’s ludicrous portrayal of Erebor. In the absence of a real canonical storyline for Second Age Dwarves, it also seems the show is playing up their friendship and association with Celebrimbor, to the point of giving them an initial role in ring-forging. Which strikes me as fine. If we can move the Dwarves away from the stereotype of Jackson’s Gimli, so much the better. This is a refined, creative and cultured people, and I think Amazon is managing well-enough there.
The Galadriel cover is a good deal less cheerful, but I can see what they are going for. There are no golden tones associated with Galadriel here, with both her hair and her accessories being shown as pale and washed-out. Rather than glamour or magic, this is Galadriel as a travel-stained (or at least driven) Noldorin warrior, facing down the darkness of Middle-earth while having her own share of issues. If not blood-stained in this image, one could very easily imagine her as such. Hell, change the gender, and I could actually imagine this as Celegorm – and at least then the eight-pointed star would make some canonical sense.
(I have also seen some objections about the size of the sword. I’m not bothered. It’s stylised to be seen appropriately in the photographic pose. She wouldn’t fight with her hair like that either, but they let it down for the pose).
And then there are the Harfoots, the proto-hobbits. We know these were foisted on the showrunners by Executive Meddling, so in some respects they were always destined to be the odd-ones-out, the stone in the shoe of an otherwise heroic and archaic Second Age. I do think it interesting that Empire has gone with them as the third cover, rather than Númenoreans – probably because as the linked article makes clear, they are marketing the show as a return to Middle-earth, which means a “traditional Tolkien little guy” in popular consciousness. The implication from the pose is that we have two young cheerful Harfoots doing their conspiratorial thing – presumably involving the Meteor Traveller, who had better not be Sauron. This aforementioned conspiratorial thing is clearly going on behind the literal and metaphorical back of their Elders, as represented by the positively leonine Lenny Henry.
This wouldn’t be such an issue, were it not for the inherently goofy names: Poppy Proudfellow, Elanor Brandyfoot, and (to a lesser degree) Sadoc Burrows, which honestly feel like the writers were using some sort of online hobbit name-generator. Neither ‘Elanor’ (named after the flower) nor ‘Brandy’ (named after the Brandywine river) really fit a Second Age setting. It’s only a small thing, but I feel the show could have done better here. At best, one can really only put it down to the show wanting to encourage familiarity among the casual audience. We’ve got the vegetables and large mushrooms screaming “hobbit!” for anyone who might have missed that.
Addendum: As per a reddit comment, Lenny Henry does look eerily like Martin Van Buren here…