Book review: A quest of three rings
What begins in Middle-Age Egypt develops into a timeless saga, with memorable heroes whose dependence on faith and fortitude make them not just admirable, but relatable.
The Kingdom of the Rings (2014), by Duane R. Lindberg, Ph.D., follows the journey of three rings and the people who come to bear them. The story is written in the format of a saga, or the ancient Icelandic form of storytelling that combines myth and history, or fictionalized storytelling, to accommodate actual events. The reader follows each ring bearer from the 13th century through World War I, and the historical events and spiritual dilemmas they overcome.
The story begins in the 13th century with Marcarius of Alexandria, “the scion of a wealthy and prominent Coptic Christian family.” Marcarius’s mission is to deliver a treasure to the Syrian Orthodox Church in Antioch. But this isn’t just any treasure. It is a treasure that “tradition claimed contained the gold that the Magi brought to the Christ child.” The three rings in this story were forged from this sacred gold.
Each ring, like their bearers, has its own story and identity. The first ring has an inscription, “AHURO,” which means God, or, Lord of All. In the second ring, the word “ASHEM,” or “The Incarnation of Truth,” is inscribed. The third ring bears the inscription, “MAZDAO,” which means Wisdom, or Spirit of Wisdom. Besides their consecrated origins, these rings also represent the Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and their symbolic representation of this larger doctrine of faith is apparent throughout the text. Each new ring keeper solemnly holds their respective ring’s meaning a secret until “the time is right” for the rings to be reunited. But each ring bearer wrestles with this concept, wondering when and how they will know when this destined time is to come. The author makes a connection between the ring bearers’ anticipation and Christians’ anticipation of Jesus Christ’s return.
The book is clearly well researched. As stated earlier, the obstacles through which characters carry themselves and the rings were based on actual historic events. The 217-page text includes maps, timelines, and a discussion guide, which encourages the reader to take a deeper dive into the material. The author’s faith and expertise is also evident. Lindberg is a retired Bishop of the American Association of Lutheran Churches and has a Doctorate of Divinity and a doctorate in American Studies.
Lindberg has put together an approachable, enjoyable read that flows easily. It is similar to J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (1954) in that the characters are on a quest. Unlike Frodo and his companions, however, this quest is not to be completed in one lifetime—and these rings are not evil. The story does, however, appeal to a wide audience: immigrants, decedents of immigrants, history lovers, and anyone seeking a faith-based quest will enjoy this read.
Sada Reed is an assistant professor at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Phoenix. A former sports reporter, she specializes in teaching and researching sports journalism practices and organization. She earned her doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her master’s and bachelor’s degrees at the University of Minnesota.
This article originally appeared in the Oct. 30, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.