the_ringGraphic novels and opera might seem, at first consideration, to be an odd pairing at best. Yet, as P. Craig Russell proves with this brilliant adaptation, the graphic format offers an ideal medium for translating the majestic pageantry of opera from the stage to the page. In The Ring of the Nibelung, Russell opens Richard Wagner’s fabulous mythos to a new audience, giving life to gods and heroes, monsters and mermaids in stunning detail.

Heavily rooted in Wagner’s ideas of Norse mythologies, The Ring is a story of creation and destruction, love and death, and honor and betrayal—a saga worthy of the gods. The story is rich and complex, as Russell journeys through all four of Wagner’s operas—The Rhinegold, The Valkyrie, Siegfried, and Gotterdammerung—in this epic and beautiful retelling. From the creation of the universe to the fall of Valhalla, Russell unwinds the tale on the page.

From the moment Alberich the Nibelung renounces love forever—rejected and spurned by the lovely Rhine maidens—and steals their great treasure (the Rhinegold) to forge a ring of great power, until the funeral pyre consumes Siegfried and Brunhilde in an inferno of cleansing destruction, the reader is drawn into an exquisite high-fantasy romance and adventure in which gods battle giants, heroes slay dragons, and broken vows ultimately destroy the world. The art perfectly sets the stage for the epic adventure and drama, capturing the dark twisted soul of Alberich, the virtuous strength and beauty of Brunhilde, the arrogant heroism of Seigfried, and the majesty of Vahalla in sweeps of color and line.

Dark Horse rates The Ring at 16+, but its most likely audience lies in existing fans of the source material, mature fantasy readers, or aficionados of Norse mythology. Parents or readers unfamiliar with the source material may find elements of The Ring disturbing. In addition to its Norse origins, The Ring includes magic, violence, strong language, rape, incest, and sexual situations. Although much of the more disturbing actions happens off-screen, the implications are clear. The novel also includes numerous scenes of partial nudity and scantily clad female figures.

This hardcover collection of The Ring collects all four volumes of the Eisner-winning saga (2001 – Best Finite/Limited Series, Best Penciller/Inker), as well as including the original cover images, notes from the author, and production sketches in an impressive single volume. The Ring of the Nibelung is no quick or easy adventure story, but for readers willing to take on the epic challenge, it’s a fabulous new way of experiencing this old story.

Richard Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung
by P. Craig Russell
ISBN: 9781616554019
Dark Horse, 2014
Publisher Age Rating: 16+

  • Beth Rogers

    Past Reviewer

    This reviewer is not longer actively working on our site, but we would not be here if not for our many dedicated contributors over the years. We thank all of them for their reviews, features, and support! Beth Rogers is Coordinator of Reference, Instruction, and Outreach at the Annie Merner Pfeiffer Library at West Virginia Wesleyan College, where she has worked to introduce and develop the library’s graphic novel collection. Also a part-time lecturer in English, Beth has taught courses on graphic novels for college students, lead book discussions on graphic novels including Watchmen and American-Born Chinese, and guest lectured on superheroes in American culture. She also maintains a book review blog, Do I Wanna Read THAT?!?!? When she’s not working, Beth enjoys action movies, knitting wee Avengers, and spoiling her dog.

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