Review: The Ring of the Dark Elves by Victoria Randall

“Whoever owns it shall gain his heart’s desire, and it will turn bitter as gall in his mouth.”

Victoria Randall has written a wonderful novel. The Ring of the Dark Elves is a tale of romance, enchantment, adventure – and treachery. It is based on Norse mythology, but enjoyment of the story does not require an in-depth knowledge of those legends. For me the novel provided a good introduction to that world. Those who know more about the legends – for example, those who have seen Richard Wagner’s operatic cycle – will read the novel with even greater relish.

Before reading The Ring of the Dark Elves, I had heard something about Norse mythology from J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. I knew that both writers had immersed themselves in that world and that it influenced their own imaginations. But I really did not know much about it until reading Victoria Randall’s novel. I had heard the names Odin, Brynhild and Sigurd (although in slightly different forms) but did not know who they were. This novel makes those mythical figures live and breathe.

Those who have read The Lord of the Rings – or seen the movies – do not need to be convinced of the worth of epic stories. As Miss Randall says in the introduction:

“Heroic legends and fairy tales are currently seen as fare for children, and it is true that children benefit from being exposed to them early. But in actuality it is adults who need them most, for despite all our wishes to the contrary we live in days as dark as those of early Norsemen, and must deal with the grim realities of the world. Heroic tales give us the courage and the hope that are essential to finding meaning in life.”

The Ring of the Dark Elves is a book many will want in their personal library to read – and to re-read. It will fuel the imagination of both young and old.

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