J.R.R. Tolkien had a great knowledge of, and love for, world mythology when he wrote his beloved trilogy of Middle Earth. In particular, the symbol of the Ring has a rich and fascinating heritage, and this beautifully illustrated literary detective work searches down Tolkien's sources and inspiration. To understand the roots of The Lord of the Rings, we must go far back, to a tradition of ring-quest tales that came into being before the pyramids of Egypt were built, or the walls of Babylon raised. The extraordinary journey passes through the most magical stories told: Norse myths, including the Volsunga Saga; the Arthurian legends; the Carolingian tales, linked to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne; Celtic and Saxon myths; German romances, such as the Nibelungenlied; and more. By drawing on these potent primary myths and legends, Tolkien was able himself to create a new mythology for the 20th century - and beyond.