Another Paxson rattle and roll of a cluster of ancient tales and myths. Here, in the first of a trilogy, the author spotlights a heroic pair given fame by Wagner's operatic Ring cycle: Sigfrid and Brunahild of the Walkyriun, who--like Tristan and Iseult of The White Raven (1988) and King Leir of The Serpent's Tooth (1991)-- step out of the mythic mists with earthbound feet and overheated crania. After an essential Foreword, in which Paxson sketches a fifth- century background of a crumbling Roman empire amid the roiling movement of Germanic tribes, there's an eye-crossing roll call of characters (from the one-eyed god Wodan to Fafner, ``a berserker''), plus a Prologue and a view of the theft of the Gold from the river Rhenus. (The jury is still out on the joys of authentic spelling.) The young girl Brunahild, daughter of a Hun prince, will first see the image of Wodan as, with Gudrun, offspring of a Bergund chieftain, she peers into a sacred well. (Wodan will appear at other times and places.) So it's off to the Walkyriun for Brunahild, to be trained with the other women to defend the old ways and old gods. The storms through which they ride in battle are within--as is Brunahild's quest for her father, surely the One-Eyed. Meanwhile, Sigfrid is being raised by the smith Ragan to avenge a death by slaying the shapechanger Fafner, guardian of the Rhenus gold. He'll run with wolves, learn killing, receive his father's sword, etc. Then at the stony cold ``pyre'' on which Brunahild lies (punished by her peers for sparing an enemy), the two will thunderously lose their respective virginities. There are those who regret the leach of old gold out of old myths, but Paxson substitutes the happy clamor of invention--how can one kill a dragon that isn't there?--with ease and in a wink of Wodan's eye.