Thursday, July 2, 2009

Rhapsody by Elizabeth Haydon (Re-read)

I read this trilogy a few years ago and decided to re-read the first book, Rhapsody, since my mom is reading it now. And again, I am amazed and blown away with the imagination that is weaved into this book. It baffles my mind how these authors come up with these fantastical fantasy worlds. This is another trilogy that the characters have remained with me.

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!


Stacy~ said...

I definitely think I need to re-read this. I felt a strong liking for Achmed, and at the time, almost wished him and Rhapsody got together, even though I know there's other stuff going on. Thanx for reminding me of this wonderful story!

Amanda said...

Ok I want this NOW!!!
I did have this book in my TBR pile and someone 'borrowed' it and never gave it back :( So I think I am going to have to try and find a copy again!

Great review Amy!

Blodeuedd said...

I have seen this series when I was looking for a Lois Royo pic, and he had made it for the cover...I think.
But did she ever see Sam again, I sure hope so

Amy C said...

Oh yes, Blodeuedd, she see's "sam" again, but neither of them know who the other is. Sam, or rather Gwydion, is now known as Ashe and he keeps himself covered in a cloak, no one sees his face and Rhapsody was 'changed' when they crossed the center of the earth, through fire, when they were in the Roots of Sagia! So she looks a bit different....beautiful different! And also, about 16 centuries have passed since that day when the two were younger and time was altered! It's sounds crazy, doesn't it, but it isn't difficult to get if you're reading the stroy. So actually, Rhapsody and Ashe (Sam/Gwydion) only have about 60-80 pages of 650 pages together. It's not alot, but at the end of Rhapsody, the two begin a journey together that starts off in Prophecy. So there is alot more page time with them and alot of cool stuff happens, and some of it's even sad!

Oh and I never did mention in my review that there are dragons in this and Ashe is a Dragon decendant! So that part of him wants Rhapsody!!

Amy C said...

Amanda! I hope you do read it!

Stacy, I wonder if I felt the same way about Achmed as you. I don't know. I didn't read romances at the time so I'm not sure if my mind was even thinking along those lines! That is one thing I did love about this book; the relationships and bonds that were formed between the three of them was really great! Especially so with Achmed and how he changed around Rhapsody, actually showing from time to time that he had a heart!

Blodeuedd said... I am confused, I think this is a book that just should be read cos I can't put all those things together, lol. 16 centuries!

You kind of hooked me there, a dragon descendant, now it got really exciting at once.

Amy C said...

I think you are right, Blodeuedd! There is so much going on, so to actually give a thorough break-down of it all you would be reading forever! I don't think it's really that confusing though if you were to read it. I'm not sure what kind of fantasies you like, but I think this one is just so rich and has such great characters and their actions and interactions are wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Your great reviews are really inspiring me to branch out more into fantasy stuff. I've added Anne Bishop's "Black Jewel" series to my TBB list. :o)

Amanda said...

Just requested it from my library!! I'll let you know what I think!

Kris said...

Ooh, i read these years ago but only the fist three were out at that point in time, i really enjoyd them. I may have to go find them again. thanks for the reminder :)

Tracy said...

You know I'm not a huge fantasy freak but this sounds wonderful. Thanks for the heads up!

Amy C said...

Awesome, Amanda! DefinietlyI would love to know what you think :).

Hey Kris, when I first read them I think up to Requiem for the Sun was out, but not Elegy for a Lost Star, which is likely why I never got to the last two. I left the fantasy for romance!

Tracy, this is definitley fantasy. So you would totally need to set aside your love for romance and read it knowing there isn't any of that in it. What is there, isn't much! But it's such a cool world.

nath said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you Amy!! I've been looking for some fantasy books and this seems to fit the bill to a T :D best thing? It's available at the library! :D

Amy C said...

Nath!! You are so very welcome! Thank you! I'm so glad your library has it. You'll definitely have to let me know what you think. Have you read the Aspect of Crow trilogy?? That is fantasy with a very nice dose of romance in each book. I love that trilogy. it's second to the Black Jewels :).

My Blog 2.0 (Dottie) said...

Hi Amy!

The cover art is amazing, it pops, so colorful and magical. And the story sounds gripping and compelling, begging to be read. Wow, added another fantasy series to my list! I love a series that is continued past the usually three books.

Dottie :)

Amanda said...

OK So Rhapsody arrived for me!! I'll be starting it sometime this week so i'll let you know what I think! x

Amy C said...

Please, please, Amanda, do come back and let me know what you thought...good or (gulps) bad! :)

Amanda said...

LOL Don't worry I will!!

Dr.Rowans22 said...

I read the Rhapsody trilogy a few years ago,forgetting all about them in the course of my studies.However I am delighted to say that I have discovered those very books again,along with the last two books,and am currently re-reading Destiny.I love the world Haydon has created,and the relationship that Rhapsody has had with Achmed from book one.Reading these series is like reading Lord of the Rings...its a must!