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Talk about the biggest TV tease of the year. Not even the all-seeing eye of Sauron knows how to piece together all the little clues that Amazon might’ve just revealed about its upcoming Lord of the Rings series, thanks to the studio’s huge new batch of zoomed-in character posters (shown below) that invite more questions about the J.R.R. Tolkien-inspired project than they answer.
But getting fans’ attention without spoiling the long-brewing mystery is kind of the point: Amazon has been extremely tight-lipped about the details of its pricey new series, and the new images strike a deft balance of showing off some of the show’s aesthetic without doing anything to lessen the buzz. The studio unveiled no fewer than 23 posters in its new tease for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, but each provides only a tantalizing glimpse of the characters’ torsos, hands, clothing, and some select bits of Middle-earth craftsmanship.
Though the studio has previously revealed a big chunk of the series’ sprawling cast, Amazon didn’t share any information on which character is portrayed in each image. That leaves the door wide open for fan speculation to run wild: How many Middle-earth races are represented here? Which ones are the good guys and the bad guys? And is that Sauron in black…or perhaps Morgoth, his former master?
For now, we can only step back and look at the broad strokes. A handful of the posters seems to show characters whose raiments suggest the modest trappings of daily village life, while the rest are divided between wizards, warriors (check out those elaborate sword hilts), elves (maybe), and jewel-encrusted nobility. But whether it’s Sauron, Mogroth, or even somebody else, that black gauntlet definitely stands apart from the rest.
Speaking of broad strokes, most of what we know about the series is big-picture stuff. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is set to unfold long before the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, following the story of the forging of the rings and Sauron’s ascent to power. Showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay have described the series as uniting “all the major stories of Middle-earth’s Second Age: the forging of the rings, the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron, the epic tale of Númenor, and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.”
Only one actor has so far been connected to a specific character in the series. Morfydd Clark (His Dark Materials) will play immortal elf Galadriel, a recast of Cate Blanchett’s role in the Peter Jackson movie trilogy. But the rest of the actors haven’t yet been identified by their roles.
That said, Amazon has recruited a long list of actors for its LOTR prequel (take a deep breath): Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Robert Aramayo, Owain Arthur, Maxim Baldry, Nazanin Boniadi, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Charles Edwards, Trystan Gravelle, Sir Lenny Henry, Ema Horvath, Markella Kavenagh, Joseph Mawle, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Lloyd Owen, Megan Richards, Dylan Smith, Charlie Vickers, Leon Wadham, Benjamin Walker, Daniel Weyman, and Sara Zwangobani.
Counting Clark, that’s 23 people if you’re keeping score — which means it’s totally possible that everyone on that list has their character pictured in one of Amazon’s close-cropped posters. See what clues you can spot in the full gallery, while we wait for the debut of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on Sept. 2 at Amazon.