We know that the storylines in The Rings of Power are set in the Second Age, which occur thousands of years before the events of The Lord of the Rings. We also know that when Galadriel finally returns to her birthplace of Valinor after the destruction of the One Ring, she is over 8,000 years old. Therefore, while still ancient by human standards, the Galadriel we see in The Rings of Power is significantly younger and more prideful than the Lady of Lothlórien viewers may be more familiar with from the films.
This differing depiction from Cate Blanchett's Galadriel is made clear in the new Rings of Power trailer, where a young Galadriel is shown in full armor, accomplishing amazing feats. While not confirmed, this depiction of Galadriel climbing the ice wall in a blizzard could be a flashback to the Noldor, a sect of elves of which Galadriel is a part, crossing the Helcaraxë. For readers who haven't combed through The Silmarillion recently, Helcaraxë is an icy strait of water between Galadriel's birthplace, Aman, and Middle Earth. This desolate area, also known as the Grinding Ice, was how the Noldor, led in part by Galadriel, were able to travel to Middle Earth after Fëanor, Galadriel's uncle and creator of the Silmarils, stole the ships at Alqualondë.
But what is Alqualondë? Also known as the Haven of the Swans, this was the primary city of the Teleri on the shores of Aman. The Teleri were elves who were master shipbuilders and possessed a massive fleet of ships, which Fëanor stole, killing many Teleri in the process, and abandoning his kinsfolk in Valinor who refused to take part in the kinslaying at Alqualondë.
One of the kinsmen that Fëanor abandoned in Valinor was Galadriel, who shared his desire to go East to Middle Earth. However, after the kinslaying at Alqualondë and being left behind by Fëanor, it is not a stretch to assume that Galadriel, would want to seek revenge. Not on Fëanor, but on Melkor (a god-like being responsible for all evil and discord in the world) and his lieutenants, including Sauron.
Not only is Melkor responsible for corrupting Fëanor to rebel against the Valar in the first place, but he is also responsible for the deaths of much of her family, including her brothers. Therefore, Galadriel's hunt for Sauron is not just within the sphere of “good vs. evil” but is also personal; for the corruption of Fëanor, the kinslaying at Alqualondë, and the subsequent loss of her brothers in the Wars of Beleriand.
At this point in history, readers begin to understand how a younger Galadriel could be braving the icy terrors of Helcaraxë and commanding an army. Galadriel is using her exceptional skill, strength, and resolve to hunt down evil, in all its forms, East of Aman. Further, in the Vanity Fair exclusive image release, we see a young Galadriel, clad in armor with a sword on her back and the caption, “Galadriel, Commander of the Northern Army.” which makes it clear that, on top of being incredibly wise and powerful, Galadriel is also a formidable warrior. This fact is not only reinforced by Galadriel's history but also her armor and weaponry, including her silver and gold sword, which we see in Galadriel's character illustration and also in the trailer.
Galadriel's sword that she stabs into the ice wall is clearly a representation of Telperion and Laurelin, the Trees of Valinor. While beautiful, this weapon also serves a narrative purpose; it reinforces that Galadriel was born during the time of the Trees. The Trees of Valinor were sung into being by Yavanna, a goddess of Valinor, and emitted a glowing gold and silver light which provided light for the entire world. Unfortunately, however, something as beautiful as they were could not hope to last forever, and they were killed by Morgoth. Galadriel also has a close physical connection to Telperion and Laurelin, for her hair is said to emulate the light that both the trees emitted, deep gold with flashes of silver. Her hair was also said to inspire Fëanor to create the Silmarils, gems whose recovery from Melkor is one of the reasons why the Noldor came to Middle Earth to begin with.
Finally, Galadriel plays a major role in many of the events The Rings of Power will explore in the Second Age. By this time in her life, she’s made it to Middle Earth from Valinor, married Celeborn, and made her way to Lindon. Lindon is where Gil-galad, the High King of the Noldor resides and is a confirmed location in The Rings of Power series.
It's also clear from an image released by Amazon that Lindon is where Galadriel reunites with Elrond. This event, however, is where the timeline gets a little wonky since Elrond marries Galadriel’s daughter, Celebrian, who was born in Lindon. That said, The Rings of Power showrunners Patrick McKay and JD Payne have confirmed they’ve taken some liberties with the timeline. Perhaps this is one of them.
After Lindon, Galadriel moves to Eregion, which is west of the Misty Mountains. Eregion is also close to the dwarven kingdom of Khazad-dûm (more commonly known as Moria), which at this time is a thriving kingdom with good trade relations with Galadriel, Celeborn, and the elves of Eregion. After Eregion, Galadriel and Celeborn move onto Lothlórien, where they become the Lord and Lady and reside until they move into the West, back to Valinor. This moving around is consistent again with what’s been revealed so far about The Rings of Power, where Galadriel is said to travel across the map in her hunt for Sauron.
Speaking of Sauron, his timeline also crosses Galadriel’s (albeit, indirectly) in the Second Age, where he disguises himself as the Maia Annatar, who teaches Celebrimbor how to forge the Rings of Power. One of these rings, Nenya, was given to Galadriel, but thanks to her wisdom and foresight, she does not use the ring until the Third Age, when the One Ring is lost, and it is safe to use. This is because Galadriel does not trust Annatar and instead councils Celebrimbor to hide the rings and not use them until it is safe to do so.
While fans may not encounter Sauron until later in the series with the actual forging of the Rings of Power, the showrunners have revealed that viewers may not know Sauron when he first appears. Could this be a reference to Annator, also known as the Lord of Gifts? Or does Sauron cross Galadriel as another character? Perhaps the mysterious Halbrand who is running from his mysterious past? Regardless of Sauron’s identity in The Rings of Power, it is clear that Galadriel’s character is set on hunting him down and, upon understanding her history and lineage, it is unlikely that Sauron will elude her for long.
The Rings of Power premieres on Amazon Prime on September 2, 2022.