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Tolkien's Ring Hardcover – February 1, 2002

3.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"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 out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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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 (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,390,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Hardcover
I think what a lot of reviewers here miss is that it's a book about ring stories. If you like reading up on old stories and connecting themes, this is a good book. If you want a Tolkien rimjob, you're not going to find it here.

I personally found it very intriguing to see the similarities between old stories that came from different areas. The book doesn't put it in that order, but you can see how one ring story influences another through the ages. It's very well written and Alan Lee's drawings are spectacular as always.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I cannot count the number of background books I have read about my favorite authors. My thanks to Anova Books and Net Galley for the ARC. 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. Vastly entertaining going back to the original myths, legends and material from which spring something new. Well worth the time you will spend. 5 Stars.

Tolkien's Ring
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Format: Hardcover
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. While the central task of the book is to relate past legends to Tolkien, Day also makes a point to briefly summarize some of the more important tales before making the Tolkien connection, so in this way the book can also be viewed as a source for Anglo-saxon, Celtic, Scandinavian, and Germanic tales and epics. Thus I found the book compelling, both as a source of ancient legends and an intelligent discussion of how these myths relate to the masters of modern fantasy like Tolkien. When I wrote my thesis in college on archetypes in fantasy literature this book was invaluable. Probably my most important and heavily drawn upon source. David Day has definetly done his homework on the subject, and the result is a masterful book containing some of humanities most influential myths and legends.

Definetly recommended, even if you're more interested in the mythological aspect of the book, and not so much the Tolkien connection. And of course, Alan Lee's artwork is excellent as usual.
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