H, as it is often said, mathematics is the queen of science then algebra is surely the jewel in her crown. In the course of its vast development over the last half-century, algebra has emerged as the subject in which one can observe pure mathe- matical reasoning at its best. Its elegance is matched only by the ever-increasing number of its applications to an extraordinarily wide range of topics in areas other than 'pure' mathematics. Here our objective is to present, in the form of a series of five concise volumes, the fundamentals of the subject. Broadly speaking, we have covered in all the now traditional syllabus that is found in first and second year university courses, as well as some third year material. Further study would be at the level of 'honours options'. The reasoning that lies behind this modular presentation is simple, namely to allow the student (be he a mathematician or not) to read the subject in a way that is more appropriate to the length, content, and extent, of the various courses he has to take. Although we have taken great pains to include a wide selec- tion of illustrative examples, we have not included any exer- cises. For a suitable companion collection of worked examples, we would refer the reader to our series Algebra through practice (Cambridge University Press), the first five books of which are appropriate to the material covered here.