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Nomadic hobbits, bearded dwarves and enslaved elves — Amazon finally took the wraps off its highly anticipated Lord of the Rings: Ring of Power TV series at Comic-Con on Friday.

An ambitious small-screen saga set in JRR Tolkien’s fictional universe has been in the works since Amazon Prime bought the rights for $250 million (roughly Rs 1,996 crore) nearly five years ago.

Many fans lined up overnight at the world’s most famous pop culture event, led by comedian and Tolkien aficionado Stephen Colbert.

“As fans, viewers, and enthusiasts of Middle-earth and Tolkien, we didn’t want to do origin stories on the sidelines, spinoffs, whatever,” said co-creator Patrick McKay.

“We wanted to find a giant Tolkien-esque mega-epic. It’s amazing that Amazon is crazy enough to say ‘Yeah, let’s do that.'”

Amazon reportedly spent more than $1 billion to produce five 10-hour seasons, the first of which will air on its streaming platform on Sept. 2, “reintroducing” Tolkien’s Middle-earth, McKay said.

Younger versions of the elves Galadriel and Elrond — characters familiar to fans of Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy — will be played by Morphid Clarke and Robert Aramayo.

But with the new series set 4,000 years before Jackson’s trilogy, in a fictional “Second Age” — a period of history described in less detail in Tolkien’s writings — The creators were given permission to create many new characters.

“The field is wide open,” says co-founder JD Payne.

“Amazon bought the rights to basically 10,000 years of Middle-earth and said, ‘Okay, guys, let’s take everyone who comes and see what you have to say.’

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“We thought the Second Age was fantastic. It’s Tolkien’s amazing, untold story, and it’s so iconic with the forging of the Ring of Power.”

Gorgeous, regal beard

The series is said to be the personal of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and represents the company’s biggest drama yet in its so-called “streaming war” with rivals such as Netflix and Disney+.

Much of the cost goes to extravagant production values, evident to fans crammed into the 6,000-capacity Hall H at the San Diego Convention Center, where they watched five episodes from the show, plus a new trailer piece.

While plot details are still being kept under wraps, the book’s sprawling and intricately detailed set, including the island nation of Númenor — projected on a gigantic screen that surrounds the arena three-quarters of the way — evokes awe.

“We built an entire city out of a few blocks and a full dock — it’s crazy and huge,” McKay said.

Executive producer Lindsey Weber added: “We build as many groups of humans as we can.”

A clip from the 90-minute demo features a of Harfoots, the nomadic ancestors of the hobbits in “Lord of the Rings,” who live in wagons rather than holes.

Another clip shows a wealthy dwarven kingdom—including the first bearded female dwarves in the saga—and a third shows a of elves in chains, forced to work for a band of evil orcs.

“This is the first time we’ve portrayed a female midget,” Sofia Nomvelt, who plays the dwarf princess Disa, told AFP after the speech.

“We’ve got a version, a gorgeous, regal, one hair-at-a-time app, divine, detailed version of a dwarf beard, I know you’re going to love it!”

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The “Game of Thrones” and Zombies comic-con is taking place again with 130,000 people for the first time in three years after going online due to the pandemic.

Ring of Thrones will go head-to-head with HBO’s Game of Thrones spin-off “House of the Dragon,” a fantasy series set to open next month that will have its own Comic-Con on Saturday.

Elsewhere, post-apocalyptic zombie series The Walking Dead held its final Comic-Con on Friday, confirming that the final eight episodes of the record-breaking cable show will premiere on Oct. 2.

But the undead franchise lives on, with fan favorite Andrew Lincoln telling ecstatic fans he’ll be reprising his role as Rick Grimes in a limited series next year.

Disney will wrap up its main show Saturday night at the event, which is expected to showcase Marvel superheroes, including the long-awaited sequel “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”

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By Rebecca French

Rebecca French writes books about Technology and smartwatches. Her books have received starred reviews in Technology Shout, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist. She is a New York Times and a USA Today Bestseller...