Wotan, Head God and CEO of Teutonic Gods Inc., has a problem. He likes to rule the world – well, several worlds actually – and enjoys wielding supreme power. On the other hand he’s an easy-going sort of chap who to indulges himself with plenty of wine, women and song, much to the irritation of his formidable wife Frikka. For several aeons he’s managed to successfully balance both power and pleasure but now it’s all going horribly wrong and he stands to lose everything…
This, basically, is the story behind Richard Wagner’s huge work The Ring of the Nibelung; four operas that last almost four hours each. A formidable endurance test for even the most avid opera-lover, let alone the cast of performers. ‘Ring’ fanatics abound – as do those who love music but don’t care for Wagner’s type of sung drama which offers splendid orchestration and heroic vocalisation but not too many hit tunes. This is why The Ride of the Valkyries is the only tune that non-Wagnerians can readily hum!
I am a ring tragic. One of that select and undoubtedly peculiar band who can listen to, and watch, The Ring operas over and over again. Once you get hooked, it’s an addiction for which there is no cure except more of the same.
But even I have to admit that The Ring has a very silly story. Okay, it takes a suspension of everyday reality to believe in gods and giants and dwarves and other weirdos but then most of us managed to do that very happily with Tolkien (or at least with Peter Jackson). And today there are quite a lot of people out there (mostly under the age of 30, admittedly) who are enthusiastic about vampires. The problem with Wagner’s version of the old Norse legends, though, is that the storyline is full of inconsistencies and the plot (for want of a better word) full of holes. And yet he renders it all so seriously!
So I decided to rewrite it. Using the basic story as Wagner saw it, but with the gaps filled in and the silly bits made sane and the unfathomable explained. And a touch of satire to make it more digestible. You’ll still meet Wotan and his gang of neurotic gods and goddesses, the tragic lovers Siegmund and Sieglinde, their gormless (but very brave) son Siegfried the Hero and the equally brave Brunnhilde who is Wotan’s favourite daughter and head of the Valkyries. The Giants Fasolt and Fafner still stomp through these pages while the Dwarves Alberich and Mime scuttle about their bad business. All the lesser Mortals are here too – Sieglinde’s husband Horrible Hunding, the even more horrible Hagen who is half-dwarf, the Gibich siblings Gunther and Gutrune who find themselves unwittingly caught up in affairs way beyond their understanding.
Ringtones is written to amuse – it’s ‘funtasy’ rather than fantasy, in the manner of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. Yet there is a serious undertone at work for the story of The Ring is essentially a story of love versus the lust for power. When greed and violence, lust and jealousy, evil and plain old stupidity threaten to take over the world then only extreme self-sacrifice can redeem it. Over the next few days I’ll indulge myself in writing a series of blog articles on The Ring to augment the story for those who are already addicted and to elucidate it for those who know nothing about it.
In the meantime, you can buy the book or take a sneak preview by going to