A Glimmer of Light Across the Vast Sea- A ‘Rings of Power’ Review

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

When it was announced that Amazon had purchased the film rights to Tolkien’s world, most dedicated lovers of Middle Earth felt a twinge of apprehension. Fans of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy hold the story and content as some of the highest achievements in film-making. To lovers of the original books and extended writings of Professor Tolkien, the world is close to sacrosanct.

Could a faceless, cruel force like Amazon ever hope to capture the key themes and core feeling of Tolkien’s works, or would fans be forced to endure a blasphemous caricature of their beloved heroes, diminishing and disrespecting the brand?

Looking back, I think it was a bit of both. Here, it must necessarily be said that this review will feature spoilers not only from the Rings of Power series and the Peter Jackson films, but also from the entire catalogue of Tolkien’s works.

The first tremor of concern came with the details of just what Amazon held the rights to, and what story they were hoping to tell. Speculations abounded—some claimed it would simply be a remake of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Others claimed it would be a backstory for Aragorn.

Finally, it was revealed that the show would cover the events of the Second Age—the rise of Sauron, the making of the rings, and the fall of Númenor. This was encouraging news to many. That period had never been represented on film before, and certainly the content was captivating. The story, however, was not very fleshed out , and even in the Akallabêth—a subsection of The Silmarillion which covers the Second Age of Arda—it tends to be a bit high-level, and not necessarily suited to the screen.

What was worse, it turned out that Amazon didn’t have the rights to The Silmarillion, nor Unfinished Tales. They had no more rights than Peter Jackson had—specifically, to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

This meant most of the narrative would need to be gleaned from brief references or listings of years found in the Appendices.

Much would need to be invented outright.

This was of grave concern. Representing a beloved world in a new medium was a serious challenge, but to insert what amounted to fan fiction into the universe risked a clash with the source material that could lead to losing the core themes.

To some extent, this is what happened.

That is not to say that The Rings of Power failed entirely. In fact, there was a great deal to enjoy, and more than enough reason to be optimistic for future seasons, so long as the ardent fan can keep their expectations in check.

The music was consistently fantastic, and while many of the storylines were well into the fan fiction zone, they often worked surprisingly well, with the Harfoots being an especially charming bit of world-building, even if their ultimate story feels unnecessary.

While the version of Galadriel (and Sauron for that matter, but more on that later) clashed with impressions held by most fans, they tended to work within the story the show was telling. Where the conflict existed, there were usually decent reasons, and we’ll get into more on that soon.

Elrond, Durin IV, and his wife Disa were especially enjoyable, and their scenes tended to steal every episode they appeared in. In fact, it’s worth giving special mention to everything done with the Dwarves and their realm of Khazad-dûm. Not since John Rhys-Davies portrayal of Gimli in the Jackson films has the Dwarven world felt so alive, and this portrayal was a much better fit to Tolkien’s vision than what was shown in the recent Hobbit films.

This attention to characterization does much to build the sense of the world at large. Of course, this can’t be done without building the actual world the characters inhabit. While several of the set pieces seemed a bit small and sparsely populated, this was likely due to filming during the pandemic, and may improve in coming seasons. The artistic direction and design of most locations was fantastic though. Númenor, Khazad-dûm, and Lindon were especially wonderful.

Here, we must again compare the Rings of Power against the two standards—Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, and the source material of J.R.R. Tolkien.

The artistic direction in Rings of Power worked best when it managed to resonate with both fans of the film and books—creating a kind of consistent tone for the universe. This was likely due to the influence of the incomparable John Howe, and was especially noticeable in the broad vista shots of Númenor and Khazad-dûm, which were absolutely breath-taking, and worth the ticket price alone.

In other places, the tone felt less like an homage to Tolkien’s own works, and more like a cover of Jackson’s. Constant call-backs (or call-forwards?) to things that were in the movie but not necessarily in the books reminded us that the primary audience for this show was the movie crowd, and the distinction between canon and entertainment was one they were happy to cross over where they thought it would attract more viewers.

Now to be fair, we have already pointed out that Amazon didn’t have the rights to a lot of Tolkien’s works, and shared only that which Jackson had access to. This did limit them, and while it has been expressed that they worked closely with the Tolkien estate to keep close to the source material, one can’t help but speculate what might have been possible had they simply been granted full access to the source material.

This is where some of the show’s weak spots begin to appear. Often, Amazon seems to have felt compelled to explain things that were better left vague, or to create uncertainty where it wasn’t needed. The worst offender of the former was the ridiculous decision to give Mithril a backstory. While aiming to raise the stakes and give context to viewers, it failed, in my opinion, at both. The fading of the Elves was already an established theme for Jackson fans, and could have been better explained for new viewers. It took an ethereal concept like the nature and magic of the Elves, and attempted to pin a scientific explanation onto it. Essentially, it was the Rings of Powers version of midi-chlorians.

That’s all to say nothing of the damage it does to the canon. While the writers do dull the effect slightly by admitting the backstory may be apocryphal, the idea of a Silmaril sitting on top of the misty mountains is beyond silly. It’s insulting.

Of the other misstep—creating needless uncertainty—there were many examples. In the source material, the identity of Sauron was never a mystery, at least not to the reader. We were aware of who he was, and enthralled with the way he used foibles and doubts—as well as pride—to play everyone against one another and eventually bring down the greatest nation the world had yet known.

Rings of Power instead decided to focus on a ‘mystery box’ approach, keeping us guessing till the very end just who was really Sauron. This cheapened the impact of his deeds, and presents some serious problems going forward. Further, it resulted in a lot of storylines—such as that of the Stranger—feeling inserted only to add to the mystery, and we are now left to question if they were ever really relevant at all.

At last, we come to the man himself. There’s an ironic twist, because while Sauron was the titular character of The Lord of the Rings novels, he never actually appeared in them directly. In Jackson’s films, he was represented by a giant eye, but didn’t play a much more active role, as was fitting.

In the years covered (and condensed) by the Rings of Power though, Sauron was a very active and very physically present player. And he did a LOT.

The brief stretches we see of Sauron (Halbrand) travelling through Númenor—especially his interest in the blacksmith shop—and Eregion were hardly representative of the incredibly cunning and devious deeds he did in both, but it’s unclear if we’ll see him return.

In the show, the three rings of the Elves have already been made, but that leaves us with sixteen left unmade, which Sauron should be involved with. Given the ending of the season, it’s difficult to imagine how he can saunter back into Eregion to get that work done.

Now, it could work to have him brought back to Númenor. According to canon, he was brought as a prisoner to Númenor, and they knew full well who he was. It was not due to deception, but rather playing on the pride and fears of men that he was able to sow his discord there.

This remains a possibility on the show, but the work has not yet been laid to show that fall from grace. While it has been made clear that the Númenorians mistrust the Elves, little is done to establish why, and that’s a grave omission.

Aside from the pride of men, the key tool that Sauron used in their seduction was mortality, and their jealousy that Elves got to live forever in the Undying Lands. One of the key themes of the Akallabêth is that there are limitations to men, and it is wiser to accept them than to fight against our nature. Although true of several things, this is especially true of death. The Númenorians were already longer lived than the ‘low men’, and eventually they used this as justification to dominate and exploit them. They sought ever longer lives, and held onto their station well-beyond the waning of their abilities.

This slow corruption is an essential theme of the Akallabêth. In the book, we witness how the Númenorians chased after power, and that ‘if they were not increased in happiness, yet they grew more strong, and their rich men ever richer.’ We are told directly of their ‘desire to escape from death and the ending of delight’.

These are rich and powerful themes. In the show however, they’ve done little to explore these essential differences between Elves and men—a show fan could be excused for thinking the only difference was their ears. The ban of the Valar on men sailing to the Undying Lands has not been mentioned, and the stakes are unclear.

It was the Númenorians desire for more that Sauron was eventually able to turn against them, leading to their downfall. Future seasons will have to work hard to build these traits in men.

None of this is to say that I don’t have high hopes for the future of the series. What worked, worked very well, and I am eager to see more.

I look forward to the introduction of Isildur’s brother Anárion, and hope that his role can help flesh out some of the themes above, and distinguish between the Faithful and the King’s Men. Further, the war of the Elves and Sauron in Eregion, and everything that follows could make for one hell of a spectacle with the budget available to Amazon.

If Amazon can work to better build on some of these key themes, and show Sauron’s true malice at work, the show could really begin to shine. They’ll need to resist cheap temptations like mystery boxes and dumbing down complex ideas, and trust instead to the power of the source material they spent so much money on acquiring.

If not, greed may well give way to foolishness, and where once there was hope for a beautiful and enduring piece of art, they will be left only with the washed-out ruins of their own avarice.

Let’s hope that those faithful to the material will prevail. The ride would certainly be worth it in the end.

-Brad OH Inc.

Edgar’s Worst Sunday Celebrating 1 Year of Publication!

With the Halloween season behind us for another year, we here at Brad OH Inc. took the time to sit back, relax, and realize that October—and Halloween in particular—is not only the best holiday of the year, it’s also the 1-year publication anniversary of ‘Edgar’s Worst Sunday’!

It’s been a super exciting year for me, and I want to thank everyone who’s picked up a copy of ‘Edgar’s Worst Sunday’, left reviews, come out to events, or shown support in a million other ways. It truly means the world to me!

-Click Here to Buy-

In life, Edgar Vincent always maintained one great passion—himself. A semi-successful composer, his rock star lifestyle suited him well, and his narcissistic outlook ensured he was a man with few concerns. Callous comments, thoughtless promiscuity, binge drinking, and excess sufficient to shame Caligula were standard Saturday night fare.

 Sundays for Edgar had always been a painful haze of sickness and regret.

So when Edgar finds himself in the cloudy planes of the afterlife on one particularly bleak Sunday morning, he determines that in order to find peace, he must put aside his ever-present hangover and try to figure out how he got to this point…and where he’s meant to be going now. But as Edgar makes his way through this surreal spiritual realm, he realizes that facing his death is hardly as difficult as facing himself.

 Heaven, however, presents Edgar with an unending smorgasbord of hedonistic delights, so he’s in no particular hurry to change his self-serving ways. After all, considering he’s already dead, what more could he possibly stand to lose?

If you haven’t managed to pick up your copy of ‘Edgar’s Worst Sunday’ yet, there are as many places as ever to do so.

Order online at:

Or you can find physical copies in the Edmonton area at:

Finally, if you’ve read the book and haven’t had a chance to leave a review yet, it really is one of the most helpful things you can do to support an author.

You can leave your reviews at:

Thanks again to everyone who’s read, reviewed, or even just visited this blog. It’s people like you that make words worth sharing.

With love,

-Brad OH Inc.

Edgar’s Worst Sunday- Back In Stock!

Today, we’re happy to finally address a problem which only our most astute readers likely noticed. Lately, my novel ‘Edgar’s Worst Sunday’ has been listed as ‘Sold Out’ on the Chapters/ Indigo website, among others.

While it’s true the first printing sold out, we’re happy to assure you all that ‘Edgar’s Worst Sunday’ is once again available at Chapters/ Indigo for online purchase or to order at any kiosk.

-Click Here to Buy-

It’s also available for order through Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

If you prefer to buy in person, ‘Edgar’s Worst Sunday’ is also available at these most excellent bookstores:

So, if you haven’t grabbed your copy of ‘Edgar’s Worst Sunday’ yet, fortune shines on you today!

If you have, or if you’re planning to soon, please remember to leave a review at Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and/ or Goodreads if at all possible—there’s no better way to support an author. If you have any questions about that process, please contact me through the comments, or by clicking here for e-mail.

Endless Thanks,

-Brad OH Inc.

Thanks to Everyone Who Made it Out to ‘Words in the Park 2019’

I had a fantastic time at Saturday’s ‘Words in the Park 2019’! I’m sure it’s impossible to say enough, but the love and support from everyone that turns out means the world to me, and each of you have my eternal thanks.

Writing is what I adore most, and having an opportunity to share my words with the world is a blessing I will never take for granted.

Thanks goes also to the Writer’s Foundation of Strathcona County for hosting another wonderful event this year—it was my absolute pleasure to participate.

If you weren’t able to make it, don’t you worry. I’ll be back in action selling and signing copies soon enough. Stay tuned right here for more information!

I hope to see you all soon!

-Brad OH Inc.

Reminder: See Brad Oates at ‘Words in the Park 2019’ on September 28th

This Thursday, September 28th, remember to come out and catch me at ‘Words in the Park 2019’!

‘Words in the Park’ is an annual book fair and sale held by the Writer’s Foundation of Strathcona County.

The event will be on Saturday, September 28th, from 10:00am-4:00pm, in the Agora of the Community Center in Sherwood Park, AB.

Come by, say his, and pick up any books you haven’t had a chance to get yet.

You’ll be able to grab:

Edgar’s Worst Sunday’:

In life, Edgar Vincent always maintained one great passion—himself. A semi-successful composer, his rock star lifestyle suited him well, and his narcissistic outlook ensured he was a man with few concerns. Callous comments, thoughtless promiscuity, binge drinking, and excess sufficient to shame Caligula were standard Saturday night fare.

Sundays for Edgar had always been a painful haze of sickness and regret.

So when Edgar finds himself in the cloudy planes of the afterlife on one particularly bleak Sunday morning, he determines that in order to find peace, he must put aside his ever-present hangover and try to figure out how he got to this point…and where he’s meant to be going now. But as Edgar makes his way through this surreal spiritual realm, he realizes that facing his death is hardly as difficult as facing himself.

Heaven, however, presents Edgar with an unending smorgasbord of hedonistic delights, so he’s in no particular hurry to change his self-serving ways. After all, considering he’s already dead, what more could he possibly stand to lose?

-Click here to buy ‘Edgar’s Worst Sunday’ from Chapters.ca, or Here to buy from Amazon.ca.

Edmonton: Unbound’:

Through fourteen short stories, these writers take us to places as wildly different as the writers themselves. Further, all profits from ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ will be donated to support the Edmonton Public Library (EPL), who have been gracious enough to house our humble group for over a decade and a half.

-Click here to buy ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ from Amazon.ca.-

And ‘Between the Shelves’:

‘Between the Shelves: A Tribute to Libraries by Edmonton Writers’ is a collection of stories by writers from the ‘Edmonton Writer’s Group’, including one by Brad OH Inc.

The theme of this collection is our shared appreciation of libraries and all they offer to readers in Edmonton and beyond.

-Click here to buy ‘Between the Shelves’ from Amazon.ca.-

So, come on by to the Agora of the Community Center in Sherwood Park, AB. on Saturday, September 28th, anytime between 10:00am-4:00pm to say hi, grab some books, and take in the work of many talented local authors.

I hope to see you there!

-Brad OH

See Brad Oates at ‘Words in the Park 2019’

Today, I’m happy to share with you all that you can catch me at the upcoming ‘Words in the Park 2019’!

‘Words in the Park’ is an annual book fair and sale held by the Writer’s Foundation of Strathcona County.

The event will be on Saturday, September 28th, from 10:00am-4:00pm, in the Agora of the Community Center in Sherwood Park, AB.

Come by, say his, and pick up any books you haven’t had a chance to get yet.

You’ll be able to pick up:

Edgar’s Worst Sunday’:

In life, Edgar Vincent always maintained one great passion—himself. A semi-successful composer, his rock star lifestyle suited him well, and his narcissistic outlook ensured he was a man with few concerns. Callous comments, thoughtless promiscuity, binge drinking, and excess sufficient to shame Caligula were standard Saturday night fare.

Sundays for Edgar had always been a painful haze of sickness and regret.

So when Edgar finds himself in the cloudy planes of the afterlife on one particularly bleak Sunday morning, he determines that in order to find peace, he must put aside his ever-present hangover and try to figure out how he got to this point…and where he’s meant to be going now. But as Edgar makes his way through this surreal spiritual realm, he realizes that facing his death is hardly as difficult as facing himself.

Heaven, however, presents Edgar with an unending smorgasbord of hedonistic delights, so he’s in no particular hurry to change his self-serving ways. After all, considering he’s already dead, what more could he possibly stand to lose?

-Click here to buy ‘Edgar’s Worst Sunday’ from Chapters.ca, or Here to buy from Amazon.ca.

Edmonton: Unbound’:

Through fourteen short stories, these writers take us to places as wildly different as the writers themselves. Further, all profits from ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ will be donated to support the Edmonton Public Library (EPL), who have been gracious enough to house our humble group for over a decade and a half.

-Click here to buy ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ from Amazon.ca.-

And ‘Between the Shelves’:

‘Between the Shelves: A Tribute to Libraries by Edmonton Writers’ is a collection of stories by writers from the ‘Edmonton Writer’s Group’, including one by Brad OH Inc.

The theme of this collection is our shared appreciation of libraries and all they offer to readers in Edmonton and beyond.

-Click here to buy ‘Between the Shelves’ from Amazon.ca.-

So, come on by to the Agora of the Community Center in Sherwood Park, AB. on Saturday, September 28th, anytime between 10:00am-4:00pm to say hi, grab some books, and take in the work of many talented local authors.

I hope to see you there!

-Brad OH

Thanks to Everyone Who Made it Out!

I had a fantastic time at Thursday’s signing event for Edgar’s Worst Sunday! Thanks to everyone that made it out!

If you weren’t able to make it, have no fear. I’ll be back in action selling and signing copies soon enough. Stay tuned right here for more information!

I hope to see you all soon!

-Brad OH Inc.

Reminder: Edgar’s Worst Sunday signing at Indigo West Edmonton

Remember to join me on Thursday, August 15th, at Indigo West Edmonton (8882 -170 Street N.W.- West Edmonton Mall) for the instore signing of Edgar’s Worst Sunday!

-Click Here to Buy Edgar’s Worst Sunday-

Come by anytime between 5:00pm-8:00pm to grab your copy, get it signed, and chat with the author.

You can get more info, and save the date on the Facebook Event here.

See you there!

-Brad OH Inc.

Edgar’s Worst Sunday signing at Indigo West Edmonton

Fresh back from vacation, and perfectly on time, we’re happy to announce the next signing event for Edgar’s Worst Sunday. Join me on Thursday, Aug. 15th, at Indigo West Edmonton (8882 -170 Street N.W.- West Edmonton Mall) for the instore signing of Edgar’s Worst Sunday!

-Click Here to see the Facebook Event-

Come by anytime between 5:00pm-8:00pm to grab your copy, get it signed, and chat with the author.

You can get more info, and save the date on the Facebook Event here.

See you there!

-Brad OH Inc.

Where to Buy Edgar’s Worst Sunday

Have you picked up your copy of Edgar’s Worst Sunday yet? We certainly hope so, and if you have don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon.com. It’s a big help, and is always very much appreciated.

If you haven’t found a copy of Edgar’s Worst Sunday yet, we’ve compiled a list of all current options to correct that obvious mistake!

You can get your copy of Edgar’s Worst Sunday at:

-Click Here to Buy your Copy-

We hope that’s helpful, and look forward to hearing your thoughts! Have you found Edgar’s Worst Sunday anywhere else? If so, let us know in the comments!

Thanks,

-Brad OH Inc.