Fifth Ring

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Overview

Intricately plotted, with compelling characters, The Fifth Ring by Mitchell Graham is the first volume in an epic fantasy trilogy that tells of a young man's survival against insurmountable odds.

Despite a massive defeat decades ago, Karas Duren, Lord of Alor Sator, is again attempting to conquer the neighbouring kingdoms and bring them under one rule – his own. Now the evil ruler holds a weapon of mass destruction: a single ring left over from the Ancients that will allow him ...

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Overview

Intricately plotted, with compelling characters, The Fifth Ring by Mitchell Graham is the first volume in an epic fantasy trilogy that tells of a young man's survival against insurmountable odds.

Despite a massive defeat decades ago, Karas Duren, Lord of Alor Sator, is again attempting to conquer the neighbouring kingdoms and bring them under one rule – his own. Now the evil ruler holds a weapon of mass destruction: a single ring left over from the Ancients that will allow him to control people and destroy everything and anyone who chooses to oppose him – including his own brother.

In a small village, a young boy wins a ring in a fencing tournament. Born and raised on a small farm, Mathew has little contact with the outside world, until the day his father is murdered in front of his eyes. Mat kills the murderer in revenge and must run for his life. Joining him is a mysterious priest, a few friends, and his love, Lara. During his flight Mathew discovers unusual powers in the ring, powers that make him one of the most potent men on the planet – and bring him to Duren's attention...A story of courage, love, and valour, this is epic fantasy at its best.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Through sparing prose and spirited dialogue, first-time author Graham spins a brisk adventure packed with plenty of action but very few fully developed characters. In an excavation beneath his palace, the power-mad King Duren finds the remnants of an ancient warrior race and the tools he believes will help him unite the world under one banner (naturally, his). These tools come in the form of five magical rings that supposedly control enormous crystals containing vast arcane power. But when the fifth ring goes missing and ends up in the hands of a young farm boy named Mathew, who happens to be a skilled swordsman, a series of tragic turns leads this unwitting protagonist into a lengthy battle against Duren's forces. Like all stories involving magical rings, this one will endure countless comparisons to Tolkien's Middle Earth epics, but those comparisons aren't particularly apt. With its lack of descriptive detail, this is merely an action tale that happens to be set in a fantasy locale. Smaller in scale than Robert Jordan's enormous volumes and less scholarly than Tolkien, this is still an enjoyable diversion for fantasy fans. (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060506513
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/1/2003
  • Series: Fifth Ring Trilogy , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Mitchell Graham was born in New York City and is an attorney in the State of Florida. A former member of the U.S. National Fencing Squad, he represented the U.S. in a number of competitions around the world and won more than thirty-five individual titles in the sport, placing in the top five more than one hundred times over the course of his career. In addition, he holds a doctorate in neuropsychology from the University of Miami. Mr. Graham lives in Miami with his fiancée and is currently at work on his second fantasy novel.

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Interviews & Essays

An Interview with Mitchell Graham
In January 2003, Barnes & Noble's Paul Goat Allen had the opportunity to ask Graham a few questions about his award-winning debut novel, his series, and his life.

Paul Goat Allen: In prepublication information from HarperCollins, it states that you never thought of writing fantasy until you read a fantasy novel and realized that you could do better. What didn't you like about the novel that you read, and what exactly did you think you could improve upon?

Mitchell Graham: Well, "better" probably isn't the right word to use here. My son gave me a fantasy book for my birthday that he had enjoyed reading. In fact, he thought it was one of the best fantasy books on the market, so I began to read it, too. When I finished I thought, "Huh?" After mulling it over for a few weeks, I naively decided that I could do as well. I didn't know what I was letting myself in for. The characters in the book I read were somewhat wooden and stereotypical. To make matters worse, virtually all the women were ill tempered and had really bad attitudes. Personally, I kept waiting for them to grow, not only in response to the antagonists but internally as well. I hung in there for three more books and eventually gave up.

PGA: The main character in The Fifth Ring, Mathew, is an accomplished fencer and interested in the workings of the brain. You've been a member of the United States National Fencing squad and have represented America in a number of competitions around the world. You also hold a doctorate in neuropsychology. How much is Mathew like you?

MG: Mathew is really not a great deal like me as far as his overall personality is concerned; however, there are certain similarities in the way we both think during a fencing competition. That part was unavoidable. One way we are alike is that we both find the brain a fascinating thing to study.

PGA: Speaking of Mathew, characterization was really the strength of this story. Unlike so many other fantasy novels, all the characters in The Fifth Ring are realistic and three-dimensional, with believable backgrounds, motivations, and flaws. Watching the central characters of Mathew, Lara, Collin, and Daniel mature over the course of the story was an absolute delight. Even peripheral characters like the giant Gawl and Delain, the Prince of Elgaria, are fully rounded with interesting dreams, quirks, and secrets. My personal favorite was Father Thomas. Talk about a character with a surprising past! How important was character development to you while constructing this story?

MG: As an author I think character development is crucial to the success of any story. From a personal standpoint it's important for characters to have their own strengths and weaknesses, just as we all do. It's never the sword or ray gun that makes a story work, it's what the people in them do and how they manage to overcome their obstacles. This includes dealing with their own shortcomings.

PGA: Father Thomas tells Mathew early on: "One door closes, one door opens." This seems to be an overriding theme for the group throughout the book. When you were writing The Fifth Ring, was there any specific message or theme that you wanted to thread throughout the story?

MG: This will sound horribly shallow, but the answer is no. A group of English professors once asked J.R.R. Tolkien about the symbolism and allegory in different parts of his book. He responded by saying, "Ah…perhaps I did intend these things on some lower level of consciousness which I am unaware of at the moment, but I must tell you gentlemen, all I was trying to do was to create a long, enjoyable story."

PGA: The world of the Ancients intrigued me. The overgrown highways, destroyed skyscrapers, mysterious vehicles…. And thanks for driving me crazy with that little tidbit of subterranean information at the very end that left me pulling out my hair wanting to read the next book! What was your motivation behind creating the world of the Ancients as a prehistory to your story?

MG: One way to talk about magic without mentioning it was to develop a scenario where a character could create things with his or her mind by utilizing a lost technology. To preindustrial or postapocalyptic societies I felt this would come across as magic. The Fifth Ring originally started out in the subterranean space you mentioned and eventually returned there; however, certain literary concessions to one's editor are a fact of life, and what was the original opening eventually turned into an independent short story.

PGA: Can you give me a hint as to what transpires in the upcoming installments? Is there a name for your trilogy? What is the title of the second book, by the way, and when is it scheduled for release?

MG: The second book is entitled The Emerald Cavern, and it picks up in Sennia (Gawl's homeland) nine months after The Fifth Ring ends. Right now, the book is scheduled for release in January 2004. That's the publishing industry for you. Unfortunately, I never planned a formal name for the trilogy, but in response to reader demand I've agreed to call it The Fifth Ring trilogy. It's dull, but it gets the idea across.

The story marks the return of both Jeram Quinn and Teanna d'Elso, who reappear for very different reasons. Stories about Mathew and his ring have now spread throughout much of the Western world, and he finds himself something of a reluctant celebrity. While Gawl and Father Thomas wrestle over Jeram Quinn's demand that Mathew return with him to Elgaria to stand trial, two people are inexplicably murdered at the Abbey of Barcora. Mathew sets out to find the person or persons responsible. Along the way he learns that there is someone out there with another ring.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 30 )
Rating Distribution

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(26)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 30 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Surprising find

    This book is one of my all-time favorites. It starts out with Matthew, a normal teenager living with his father, surrounded by friends. After a series of unfortunate events, he is forced to flee the city he grew up with, accompanied by his friends. After coming into possession of a seemingly normal ring, odd things start to happen, which are eventually connected with the ring, and he is plunged into the middle of a battle between good and evil. The plot line seems similar to others, but the characters make it enjoyable and different.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2005

    Excellent Reading

    This book started out slow for me but after a chapter or two I couldn't put it down. By the time I finished I couldn't wait to get to the bookstore and pick up the second book of this magnificent trilogy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2004

    Totally Unforgetable

    This novel combines so many great factors that it would be impossible to name them all. For a first book it is an exceptional work.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2004

    The Fifth Ring Synopsis

    This novel was absolutely amazing. It has a different aura on it than other novels...truly receives my highest recommendations over most other works of fiction. Truly a masterpiece, as is the novel immediately following it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2003

    Unforgetable

    The 5th Ring was great. The author of this book has the important things happen in one page. For his first book Mathew Graham did a great job. I'm geting my friends to read it as soon as they can

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2003

    Rousing Adventure Story

    Having gone through the vast majority of fantasies that have come along in the last tweny or thirty years, I picked this title up without much expectations. I read the entire book in less than a week and was sorry when I closed the final page. New author Graham is one of the birghtest lights to come along in years. He has a deft touch and the ability to spin a story that will keep the reader on the edge of his seat. Several other reviewers have commented on the bits of humor he laces the book with and I compeletely agree. They were well placed and very funny. The characters of 'The Fifth Ring' are a unique bunch who emulate the friendship and loyalty that makes fantasy such fun to read. This is really quite a different tale, not based upon magic, but upon the technology of an ancient and deceased race. I particularly enjoyed the massive battles and between Mathew and Karas Duren. A champion fencer himself, Graham knows how to craft a fight scene so that the reader will need to take a breather at the end of it. If there is any criticism, I would have to say that there are many familiar elements in this book (rings, lost technology, creatures), but this is mostly a minor complaint. Ninety-Eight percent of the fantasys published since 1950 all share same elements. The test is in the reading. If you can put down the book only with reluctance, the author passes. That was the case here. I give Graham an 'A.' Can't wait for the sequel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2003

    roger_T@aol.com

    I couldn't believe how good this book was. Once I started reading it I was hooked and couldn't stop. To begin with I'd have to say these are the best fighting/actions/ adventure scenes I've ever read. I mean it. I love Terry Brooks and Robert Jordan, but I'd put this one up against them any day in the week. The story takes place in earth's distant future after the Ancients, a race who built a machine that could turn thought into matter have disappeared (in the sapce of one night). All that is left of them are their once great cities and broken roadways. Enter Mathew Lewin,a 17 year old boy who, through a series of bizzare events following a fencing meet, comes into possession of one of the last of 8 rose gold rings. These are the keys that can access the Ancients's machine, burried deep beneath the planet. Mathew has no idea what the ring is or what it does. Unfortunately, Karas Duren, a psychotic king in neighboring Alor Satar know exactly what they are. He send a group of canabalistic creatures called the Orlocks after Mathew to get the ring back. Thus begins a fantastic journey all through Elgaria, the Great Southern Sea and into Sennia. The battles will leave you speechless and the humor will make even the most hardened fan smile. This is the stuff great fantasys are made of and it is clearly one of my all time favorites. I've just read where Mr. Graham's publisher has announced the sequel, THE EMERALD CAVERN, will come out in December. I'm ordering my copy now!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2003

    Don't pay the cover any mind

    When I first saw this book on the shelf, I though it would just be some lame Tolkien rip off about magical rings and little people with cloaks and swords. After giving the book a chance, however, I found that despite how much the character on the cover may resemble Frodo Baggins with a sheathed Sting (Some ad wizard's bright idea, I'm sure) the story and peoples within are remarkably unique. The intense, descriptive medieval battles, refreshingly touching romantic points, and well-timed whit all come together to make it an extremely fluid and enjoyable read. Sporting a fantastically complex and evolving protagonist whose heroic deeds will have even the most stoic of readers holding their breath in anticipation, The Fifth Ring is a must read for anyone with a heart for adventure and a willingness to avoid judging a book by its cover.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2003

    Superb

    An excellent read. I couldn't put it down. I read the entire book in sitting. I can't wait for part two.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2003

    Excellent

    I don't generally read fantasy, but stole this book from my boyfriend. I loved it. The world was fun and exciting and the characters were great. Everytime I put it down I found my self picking it up again to see what would happen next. I can't wait for the sequel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2003

    Enthralled

    I had a lot of trouble finding this book, but am glad I kept up the effort. If you're looking for the next great American novel, this isn't it, but if you want really good fantasy that will hook you from the start, you can't do worse that this. I really enjoyed the story and found myself short of breath at some of the actions scenes.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2003

    A real good read

    This was the best sci-fantasy I've come accross since I picked up Goodkind. Maybe all the ideas aren't fully original, but the story is. Characters are very believeable, and I enjoy that it could be our earth's future. As far as I know, THAT is an original idea. I am really looking forward to part 2. Please hurry!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2003

    Super Story

    What a great read. This story just blew me away. I've read Donaldson,Jordan, Williams, Goodkind and the rest, but this is, hands down, the best. Four people in my SF club also got copies of the book and loved it. Way to go Graham!! I can't wait for the sequel

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2003

    Better than Jordan andy day

    I just loved this book. It had everything that you could ask for in a fantasy. The characters were just great and I could relate to them right away. The action scenes are the most exciting I've ever come across and the touches of humor were perfectly timed. I don't knwo who picks the Hugos or Nebulas, but this is a prime candidate for one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2003

    Fifth Ring

    I read the review of 'Cynically Unoriginal and had to do a double take.' The only one who should be embarrassed is the fellow wh0 wrote it. It's pretty obvious that he (or she) couldn't hae read the book based on their superficial comments. Mathew Lewin is an excellent character, self-conscious and given to bouts of sea sickness, but with a noble heart and a mind that is his strongest asset. Father Thomas is clearly one of the best fantasy characters to come along in years. personally, I loved the story-line. Objectively, I do agree there is nothing new here and that The Fifth Ring' is very much cut from the mold of other fantasy epics. So who cares? The story is told in such a way that it will keep a reader on the edge of his or her seat. It's exactly the stuff that keeps people coming back to fantasy. The actions scenes are simply amazing--possibly the best ever written, and the touches of humor are nicely placed. Sign me up for the sequel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2003

    Fifth Ring

    This is by far the best book i've ever read. always kept me on my toes. I could never put it down! Wonderful, descriptive and thrilling. 5 Stars! I don't know where this author has been but i cant wait till his next book is released!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2003

    Fifth Ring

    There isn't really anything new here other than the charming style in which the story is put together. It's the first book of an epic about a young boy who discovers a ring. It's not a magic ring, but it pretty much works the same way which is acutally quite clever of the author. I enjoyed every aspect of this rousing adventure novel and will definitely pick up the next two when they come out. I read 'Cynically unoriginal's piece and was shocked by it, because my impressions were totally opposite. I can and did indentify with the characters, which is really the strength of the story. I suppose everyone's entitled to their opinion, but it might be a good idea if they read the book first!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2003

    A really good epic fantasy

    I really liked this book a lot. It's now one of my favorites along with Harry Potter. Both of my best friends also read it and enjoyed it too.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2003

    Fifth Ring

    This beats any Jordan or Goodkind novel out there. Couldn't bring myself to put it down and now that I've finished I can't wait for the sequel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2003

    Fifth Ring

    This book is sooo cool! I was totally into it after a few pages and loved all of the characters. It also has the best action descriptions I've ever read. Can't wait for the sequel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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