A ship in <i>The Rings of Power</i> Credit - Courtesy of Prime Video
Here’s what we do know: The show, which premieres Sept. 2 on Prime Video, will be set in the Second Age of Middle-earth, thousands of years before heroes like Frodo or Aragorn were born. McKay and Payne leaned heavily on the appendices to The Lord of the Rings, which trace the rise of Sauron, the creation of the one ring, and the battle between Sauron and the last alliance of elves and men for the soul of Middle-earth. Elves are immortal in Tolkien’s world, so Lord of the Rings fans can expect to see familiar faces like Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and Elrond (Robert Aramayo). (Both characters also appeared in Peter Jackson’s film trilogy.)
But a fan-favorite character has been missing: Círdan, one of the oldest and wisest of the elves. TIME can exclusively reveal that the character Círdan the Shipwright will make his debut on the series in Season 2 of The Rings of Power.
“We don’t want to give too much away, but one character we’re excited for folks to meet in Season 2 is Círdan the Shipwright,” says Payne. “In the time of our story, he’s the oldest of all known elves in Middle-earth—in fact he lived so long, he had a beard.”
Círdan is the only elf Tolkien describes as having a beard in the text of The Lord of the Rings. Whether any other elves can or do grow beards is a subject of much debate among Tolkien scholars and superfans.
Círdan is mentioned several times in Tolkien lore. The elf fights against Sauron alongside the elf king Gil-galad. Along with Elrond, he urges Isildur to destroy the one ring after the battle at the steps of Mount Doom and thus plays a pivotal role not only in the story of the Second Age, but in setting up the events of the The Lord of the Rings in the Third Age.
But Círdan only appears in person once in The Lord of the Rings proper. He greets the company of elves that includes Galadriel and Elrond as they board a ship to depart Middle-earth at the end of the series. The passage reads, “As they came to the gates Círdan the Shipwright came forth to greet them. Very tall he was, and his beard was long, and he was grey and old, save that his eyes were keen as stars.”
Let’s hope the show version of Círdan has facial hair that lives up to the hype.