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Lord of the Rings is about to unravel Middle-earth’s greatest mystery

One of Lord of the Rings' most enduring mysteries in Middle-earth, which even Tolkien never solved, looks set to be resolved in 2024 as new content releases.

Gandalf with Easterlings in the background Lord of the Rings

If you love fantasy, you love Lord of the Rings: these are the rules. Tolkien’s creation has been so influential on the genre that it’s pretty much inescapable, wherever you look. Not that I’m complaining, I try to either re-read it or re-watch the trilogy at least annually to scratch that un-scratchable itch.

And, the truth is, now’s probably the best time to be a Lord of the Rings fan since the early 2000s. There’s a new Lord of the Rings movie on the horizon, with the War of the Rohirrim release date coming in 2024, and that’ll undoubtedly create a whole new wave of the best Lord of the Rings characters (and completely change how we watch the Lord of the Rings movies in order). Rings of Power season 2 should also be on its way in 2024 too, carrying on the expansive story of Sauron‘s rise prior to his fall.

When Rings of Power season 2 does eventually arrive, fans of Middle-earth will need to keep their eyes peeled and their notebooks ready, because it looks set to dive into the fantastical world’s most mysterious realm, most likely showing us the story of the Blue Wizards along the way.

How do we know this? It’s pretty straightforward, actually. The end of Rings of Power season 1 revealed that The Stranger (all but confirmed to be Gandalf) and young Nori would head to Rhûn. Rhûn is a dry, harsh desert region to the far east of Middle-earth, not seen within the point of view of any characters within The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings cast.

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In fact, all we really know about Rhûn is that it was the home of the war-like Easterlings who allied with Sauron during the War of the Ring. This is an area of Middle-earth largely unexplored in Tolkien’s mythos, and you can bet your house Rings of Power season 2 is going to be changing that.

In season 1, Rings of Power – one of the best fantasy series of 2022, even if it was flawed in many respects – took every opportunity to add more background detail to the world of Middle-earth, even sacrificing Tolkien’s established canon on occasion, if it got in the way. With Rhûn, the show’s writers will be able to craft a story and civilization without having to worry about simultaneously being too close to, or too far from Peter Jackson’s interpretation, and without the difficulty of negotiating the intricacies of Tolkien’s lore.

This all makes Rhûn the perfect location for the team behind Rings of Power to tell new Lord of the Rings stories, with their own stamp. What’s more, filming for season 2 is confirmed to have taken place in the dry, rocky, arid regions of Tenerife: that sounds perfect for Rhûn, to me.

Rhûn also comes with not just one, but two of Middle-earth’s five wizards. The five wizards are, of course, their leader Saruman the White, Gandalf the Grey, Radagast the Brown, and the two unnamed blue wizards. Tolkien left the backstories of these final two completely ambiguous, saying that all he knew of them was that they were sent to the east and south of Middle-earth as emissaries and that like Saruman, they may have eventually been corrupted.

Soldier of Rhun in Lord of the Rings

It’s a near-certainty that the Stranger’s story will intersect with theirs as he attempts to learn more about his own powers and history. Again, their blank-slate nature will allow the Rings of Power writers to create the defining versions of the characters who have never previously been brought to life, without being compared to the best fantasy movie trilogy ever.

With the upcoming Rings of Power season 2, then, fans can expect the show to begin to de-mystify what is genuinely Middle-earth’s great mystery. These are regions and characters that even Tolkien himself shied away from unveiling in any detail, so it looks like we’re going to be in for a real adventure. And that’s before we even get to the new movie about Rohan.

For more on Lord of the Rings, see why we think the extended editions actually aren’t long enough. To go beyond the world of Lord of the Rings, see our picks for the best fantasy series, and see why the Aegon Game of Thrones spin-off would have ruined things.