The popularity of The Lord of the Rings echoes a similar work about a ring with magical powers. This work is known as The Ring of the Nibelung, and it consists of four separate operas. Also known as the Ring Cycle, it was the crowning point of the career of the 19th century German composer Richard Wagner. Wagner was somewhat of a late bloomer in music. His first major composition was performed when he was nearly 30, and the Ring Cycle premiered when he was 53. While Richard Wagner was among the world's greatest composers, he was not a particularly good person. He didn't repay borrowed money, he bore grudges against people who had done favors for him, he was unfaithful to his first wife, and he took his second wife away from her husband. He remains fascinating and controversial today. Tens of thousands of books and articles have been written about him. Book jacket.