Rhapsody is the first book in a larger than life epic fantasy trilogy, with other books that follow. The book opens rather nicely for the romance lover when an unknown person dabbles with time and plucks a young boy named Gwydion out of his time and places him on the island of Serendair to cross paths with Emily, his soul-mate, his true love, or so he feels in the very depths of his heart. Innocently they pledge themselves to each other and sweetly consummate their promises of a future. But sadly that future never comes to pass when Gwydion, who Emily knows as Sam is plucked back out of her time and placed back in his own. But Emily isn’t aware of this, only Gwydion. Tragic indeed.
Years later, Emily is now known as Rhapsody. Once a prostitute, now a Singer, and a powerful one at that, having reached the level of Namer, she finds herself on the run from a former client, Michael. Rhapsody stumbles across two odd travelers, the Brother and Grunther, in a back alley, and without realizing the extent of her gift, Rhapsody renames the one called the Brother. He is now known as Achmed, which in turn breaks the bond that an evil demon had over him. There is much power in knowing the true name of something or someone if you hold the magic.
The three companions begin their journey to the great tree, Sagia. Little does Rhapsody know that she is being carted along against her will, thinking she can leave at any time, but remaining with them under their protection. It’s only when Achmed opens the great tree and she is forced inside does she realize her error.
The three journey through the root system of the great tree Sagia, that spans the underground world, seeking refuge from that which stalks Achmed and Grunther. Unlikely friendships form between her and her companions. But that is bound to happen considering they find themselves traveling this amazing root system for many years. And an amazing journey it is.
Now on the other side of the world, Achmed, Grunther and Rhapsody find that not only are they on different soil, but fourteen centuries have passed as they traveled in the roots of Sagia! Learning what they can of the past, how it was the people of Serendair that settled and claimed the land, the three discover that the land is in turmoil. Something evil is at work and they find themselves smack in the middle of this evil.
Elizabeth Haydon did such a tremendous job blending in all the history with the flow of the story that it never seemed boring, even if it is a lot to take in. I guess mostly because looking at it from Rhapsody's, Achmed's and Grunther's points of view, I wanted to learn it for their sakes. Here they are thinking they are journeying to the other side of the world, not expecting to find that several centuries have passed as well.
This book sets the stage with several loose ends left open as to the fate of the three and the land and the people for the next two books, Prophecy and Destiny. However, everything does come together without any major cliffhangers, except the fate of the relationship between Rhapsody and Gwydion, otherwise known as Ashe.
Books like this are the reason I love fantasy so much, and have to have it, whether it be in a more simplified fashion that you find in romances or the more complex that you find in high fantasy, like this one. It's necessary. It's a craving and I must have it! And lately it seems to be the only thing I want to read.
I still need to read Elegy for a Lost Star and The Assassin's King in this series. I have to reread three more before I can do that. It's been so long, I feel like I have forgotten too much, but I'm sure that's not the case. You always remember once you get into the story, events and details start flooding your mind and it all comes back to you. But I still plan on rereading at least Prophecy. The romance between Rhapsody and Ashe is so good in that one!
If you're looking for a really grand fantasy, then I'd highly recommend you journeying with Rhapsody, Achmed, Grunther and Ashe in the Symphony of the Ages series. They may be some hefty books, but they are amazing!
***One thing that I completely forgot to touch on was how the three cope and adjust to the new time and place they find themselves in. It actually is a major part of the over all plot. Achmed and Grunther find a way to establish themselves quite nicely in the lands of the Firbolg, which is what they are. So together, Achmed does a wonderful job establishing himself as King and leader, which also brings that race together as they have never been before. Now they are a force to be reckoned with, no longer will they be senselessly slaughtered, as they have been over the years. And then there is Rhapsody. She struggles with who she is in the new world. Achmed and Grunther reassure her she will aways be welcome with them, but for her it's not the same, she is not Firbolg. There is one scene towards that end that was very well depicted regarding Rhapsody. Ashe secretly observered her, which made it all the more intense.
He had stood in the darkness of the heath and watched Rhapsody for a long time before he made himself known to her. At first he had no idea what she was doing, running into the wind, letting it billow her hair and dress about her like a sail on the high seas. After observing the intensity of her flight, the wildness of her dance, his throat tightened; she was trying to run away, but had nowhere to go. It made him want her even more.Truly a powerful scene!