He has been called many names: Estel, or “hope” in Sindarin Elvish; Thorongil, a pseudonym employed while serving in the armies of Rohan and Gondor; Strider, the nickname used by the men of Bree; Wingfoot, a moniker bestowed by Éomer for the speed with which he pursued orcs across the Eastemnet; and finally Elessar, his name as king of Gondor and the Reunited Kingdom, following the defeat of Sauron.
But you probably know him as Aragorn, the brooding ranger in Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning The Lord of the Rings trilogy (performed sublimely by Viggo Mortensen), and the legendary J.R.R. Tolkien novels on which it was based. According to the Tolkien fan site TheOneRing.Net, Aragorn is about to have another star turn, as the focus of Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings TV series, a $250 million enterprise pegged optimistically as “the next Game of Thrones.”
Aragorn is a smart, safe choice to serve at the center of the LOTR series if the goal is to be the next Thrones. After all, Jon Snow, perhaps the most popular character in the hit HBO fantasy series, bears several striking resemblances to Aragorn. And whether Thrones novelist George R.R. Martin will admit it or not, Snow had to be inspired, at least in part, by Tolkien’s character:
- Both are descended from a line of ancient kings whose homelands were destroyed in a cataclysmic event
- Both were fostered by men who kept their true lineages secret to protect them
- Both join units that patrol the realm’s northern borders to guard against threats
- Both are semi-reluctant leaders, filled with self-doubt
- Both are described physically almost identically: strong, lean, with long dark hair and grey eyes
- Both enter into vaguely incestuous relationships (Aragorn with his very distant cousin Arwen, Jon with his aunt, Daenerys)
The first season of the Amazon series will reportedly follow a younger Aragorn’s adventures prior to the events depicted in Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. For those familiar with Tolkien’s canon, that means it could show Aragorn meeting Arwen (and Gandalf!); discovering his secret ancestry; becoming Chieftain of the Rangers of the North; fighting the growing threat of Sauron’s armies; guarding the Shire; and ultimately tracking down Gollum, at Gandalf’s behest.
It’s unclear what form the prequel series could take thereafter. Amazon’s announcement mentioned only that it “will explore new storylines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring.” Subsequent seasons could continue Aragorn’s story, or they could branch off anthology-style to other characters’ origins.
However the rest of the series takes shape, making Aragorn the nucleus of its debut season seems like a calculated decision by Amazon, one that should remind many Game of Thrones fans of their favorite hero. Still, outside of the vague idea of “Lord of the Rings prequel series,” Amazon has provided no information about the show, including who’s writing it. It’s probably still several years from airing.