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Tolkien's Ring Hardcover – February 1, 2002

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Hardcover, February 1, 2002
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble (February 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586635271
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586635275
  • Product Dimensions: 11.5 x 8.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,278,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"A mighty achievement, effectively described and celebrated in this lavish, handsomely presented volume."  —Times Educational Supplement

"Day's enthusiasm is infectious, and he concisely retells the myths he examines with some verve."  —SFX Magazine

--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

David Day is a Canadia author living in the UK and Canada. His highly successful books on Tolkien, including The Hobbit Companion, have brought him world renown, appearing in 14 languages with two million copies in print. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Those familiar with the background of Tolkien's work will be incensed, and those who aren't familiar will be grossly misled.
E. A Solinas
David Day's book is an excellent compilation of almost every imaginable legend, myth, or folk tale that relates in some way to Tolkien and his writings.
Jonathan C. Pike
That being said this is one outstanding tomb about the background material J.R.R. had when he went to write The Lord of the Rings.
Bill Tillman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Bruce H on January 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is a piece of "literary detective work"; it seeks to find the myths and stories that inspired Tolkien in his creation of his three great works: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion.
The author states something of a disclaimer at the beginning though:
"In Tolkien's Ring, we will survey a vast body of myth and legend in search of Tolkien's sources. We will look at other rings and ring quests, and we will see where many elements of his epic tale were provoked into existence. However, we should never mistake Tolkien's creative process as a mere cobbling together of ancient lore. Richer and more profound through Tolkien's writing is for the ancient tradition it draws on, Tolkien's art is by no means imitation. The Lord of the Rings is a highly realized and originally conceived novel that has renewed, invigorated and finally reinvented the ring quest for the twentieth century." (page 17)
I think the author correctly identifies the primary time period and location that served as the prime inspiration for Tolkien. To use England as a benchmark, the time period runs from the end of the Roman period in England (406 AD) to the Conquest of William the Conqueror (1066 AD). The location is that is northern Europe; Scandinavia and Germany in particular.
The author also makes some interesting insights regarding metallurgy, the Iron Age, alchemy and ring-based mythology. The ring in that time period (especially in Scandinavia) was a symbol of power (e.g. Kings are "ring-givers") and it became the central symbol of the struggling pagan religions of Europe against the Christian symbol of the Cross.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" is rooted in mythology. That much is evident if you check out just a few Norse legends, with their gods and dwarves and elves and so forth. But in investigating the legends that lead up to "Lord of the Rings," David Day goes wide of the mark.
He describes the legends about rings and ancient civilizations, dating back to the earliest recorded history. He dips into legends from all times -- the Celts, Arthurian legend, the Norse legends of gods, elves, dwarves and human heroes, the opera "Ring of the Nibelung," and many others. He includes synopses, analysis, and plenty of speculation.
So what does this have to do with Tolkien? Not much, unfortunately. Day flounders in just about every ring-related legend he can find, and cobbles mythical material from every mythology he can get his hands on. Filler makes up most of this . Just because a legend has a ring doesn't mean it's in any way connected to "Lord of the Rings," or that they are in any way the roots of Tolkien's Ring saga.
As a result, this book is a crazy quilt that will drive Tolkien fans nuts. Tolkien famously drew on Norse and Anglo-Saxon legends for his books, but not a lot else. Arthurian legend (a sketchy source itself) is cited too heavily, as is Celtic legend. What does the Celtic ogre Balor have to do with Sauron? Uh, well, they both have one eye... they're powerful... they're evil... bingo! says Day. Connection made.
Day's scholarly ramblings also have a lot to be desired. He paraphrases things from "Lord of the Rings" without telling readers that he is doing so, and offers his speculation as unadorned fact. He even stoops to trashing Christianity despite Tolkien's devout beliefs.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By David Hofmayer on January 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover
as other reviewers have suggested, the book is attractive because Tolkien fans are ravenous for more materials and this book has Tolkien's name on it in big gold letters. However, I must stress that this is not sufficient reason to buy it:
Pros: comprehensive discussion of the history of the ring as a symbol in lore and of its use in Tolkien. Also fascinating illustrations by incomparable Tolkien illustrator Alan Lee.
Cons: First, to be called Tolkien's Ring, it ought to have more analysis of Tolkien's Ring. On the contrary, it only spends a chapter on that. The title is almost false, so called to attract Tolkien fans. Also, to put it bluntly, Day is boring to read and although the subject matter is interesting, his style is not engaging.
It was a decent read, and i recommend it to anyone interested in the history of the use of rings in lore. But Tolkien fans will not learn anything new or interesting about Tolkien or his work.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
David Day, in writing Tolkien's Ring, has seemingly changed Tolkien's written word to suit his purpose. Not only does he make many factual errors about the books by the author of the title, but fabricates evidence and deforms Tolkien.
"Sauron of the Evil Eye," says Day, is comparable to "Balor of the Evil Eye," and so forth. Unfortunately, for Day, nowhere in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings is Sauron called such, thus making the comparison useless. And so on. There are too many such twistings of the original text to cite, too many of Day's own extrapolations quoted as the truth in The Lord of the Rings, for my comfort.
On the plus side, he presents an intriguing collection of stories. Yet knowing how he meddled with Tolkien, I cannot help but wonder if the tales I am reading therein are true to the originals.

The main good thing about this book is Alan Lee's fantastic imagery, which once again shows him to be undeniably the greatest Tolkien artist around. Having portrayed everything from hobbits to bigfeet without ever losing the mythic and ageless qualities inherent in his works, he brings a brilliant touch to the images in this book.
If only the same could be said of Mr. Day's text.
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