Even before Game of Thrones went off the air, there was wild and wild speculation about which show might emerge to replace it. Game of Thrones was, according to some, the end of an era where all TV fans would watch the same show and then spend the next week discussing the last episode and speculating about what was to come. Recently, The house of the dragon tried to prove this Game of Thrones may be a successor to itself, but another show that has also entered the fray is hoping to become something of a phenomenon.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power often described as the Amazon version Thrones. The company has invested huge amounts of money in the series and it takes place in a similar fantasy universe as thrones, with flying creatures and human actors wearing bad white wigs. George RR Martin, the mind behind it Game of Thrones, was a big fan of J. Ar. Tolkien and wrote his own fantasy series essentially in response to Tolkien’s totemic works. That’s part of the reason, whatever Rings of Power Turns out it has to be more than just a riff Game of Throneseven though its source material was created long before anyone sat on the Iron Throne.

Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones are not the same thing

It can be easy, by flattening the fantasy into one thing, to believe it Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones are the same kind of fiction. However, it would be difficult to think of works of fiction that are more different than these two series. Lord of the Rings essentially invented the genre, and as a result his tone is usually both sincere and reverent. The history of Lord of the Rings is about the forces of good fighting back against the forces of evil, even as it acknowledges that the struggle may be eternal

In contrast, Game of Thrones is a deeply cynical show that embraces the concept of Lord of the Rings and mixes it up with actual European history. Heroes are unfairly decapitated, bad guys continue to amass power they definitely don’t deserve, and evil incarnate manages to rise to power in part because of divisions in the human world. Their backgrounds may be similar, but the views of these two stories couldn’t be more different, which is why Rings of Power can never hope to be the kind of show that Game of Thrones it was.

Thrones it was, after all, a soap opera with expert scripting and high production values, but it was also a show about backroom deals and betrayal. Those who wielded power most ruthlessly often came out on top, and those who behaved honestly usually ended up dead. Lord of the Ringsmeanwhile, he spends very little time on politics. The world of Middle-earth is mythic: a place where a race of small creatures has an enormous influence on the shape of the world, in part because no one ever expected it to. It is a beautiful story in its extreme simplicity. It doesn’t need the messy politics and in-your-face sexuality Game of Thrones to thrive.

Rings of Power can’t be Game of Thrones

game of thrones finale
HBO

For this reason, although it may occupy a similar place in our cultural conversation, Rings of Power seems unlikely to be as intriguing as Game of Thrones. There’s sure to be some sort of nefarious plot, and it seems likely that the show’s creative team will have to create characters that are a bit more complex than those that exist in the movies, but ultimately, Rings of Power probably exists in a universe that cares much more about primal questions about the nature of good and evil, and as a result spends less time digging into the gray morality of individual characters.

Unless Rings of Power turns out to be an unusual departure from that tone, it will be, in its own way, a much easier show to get hold of. There may be just as much mythology and erudition, but ultimately that erudition is biblical and rudimentary. with ThronesMartin thrives in the space between myth and reality and loves the ambiguity of a legend that has faded or changed over time. Lord of the Rings very not that type of story. The heroes are good and emerge victorious because the prophecy foretold it.

That’s not to say Middle-earth doesn’t have room for ambiguity or for its characters to explore the gray. Often, however, what motivates the conflict in Lord of the Rings are at odds over whether the mission is worth pursuing or whether the forces of evil can truly be overcome. There are very few naked power plays in this world, and those that do exist are usually punished. It’s a much more moral universe, but that doesn’t mean it has to be any less interesting.

The original by Peter Jackson The Lord of the Rings movie. the trilogy rests on the extraordinary sincerity of Tolkien’s novels. He portrayed a random villain, but he wasn’t incredibly interested in the psychology of these characters the way Martin can be. Instead, Tolkien focuses on flawed characters trying to make their world a better place. He was a product of World War II, the rare conflict with clear moral stakes in which the side fighting for justice didn’t have it all figured out but did the right thing nonetheless.

Martin’s world of political intrigue and darkness is certainly intriguing. And yet, despite the hours and hours of hand-me-downs they did The house of the dragon and Rings of Power both can exist, the shows themselves will likely be quite different. It is possible, of course, that Rings of Power will lean on the power plays they made Game of Thrones such a huge success. What seems more likely, however, is that the show is moving away from these kinds of power plays and moving towards a cast of characters facing off against a force that is both existential and unrelenting. Not all great stories are created equal, even if those stories are set in worlds with dragons.

The house of the dragon now streaming on HBO Max. The Rings of Power will begin streaming on Prime Video on September 1.

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