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Rhapsody by Elizabeth Haydon

Review by SS

Rhapsody is the story of Rhapsody, Achmed and Grunthor. Rhapsody is a beautiful young woman with a magical gift of music – she is a Namer, and through knowing the true name of things – and people – can hold sway over them. Achmed, once known as The Brother, is a deadly assassin; secretive, abrupt and without sympathy. Grunthor is his companion – a Firbolg with an unlikely sense of humour and compassion.

As Rhapsody meets Achmed and Grunthor through sheer luck, she is drawn into their flight from the demon that is pursuing them. Together, the three of them travel through time and space via the roots of the tree Sagia. The world throughout the book is not Earth (which is good for me, because it takes a really well-written book to make me believe/like a fantasy story set on Earth) but in a world with many races. There are the Lirin, humans, Dhracians, Bolgs, demons, dragons and elementals. It is set in a time akin to our late Medieval/Renaissance, and reminds me of Edding’s Elenium/Tamuli series for setting. (Although they are very different otherwise, in feel and in story).

This story is well-paced and a good read. It doesn’t actually have the feel of a “cant-put-down” book, but it is all the same. Once I started I had to finish it. Haydon is quite brave in writing a story based on what has become dreaded fantasy cliches – time travel and dragons, but I think it worked well in the end, because of the new perspectives she has brought to it.

The prologue eases the reader into the idea of time travel, and adds mystery into the story and depth into the characters without the need to for extra exposition in the body of the story. However, the need for the explanations of two worlds and times, and their corresponding myths and histories, does mean that there is a lot of dialogue which tells the reader what is going on. Although necessary, it can drag on a bit in places.

There are no real dull points to the book where you feel like skimming or flipping over a chapter or two. Rhapsody has a constant, albeit measured, pace throughout. While the characters are nothing exceptional (no great empathy is incurred for them; Rhapsody is a beautiful, talented, strong willed woman, Achmed is typically dark and brooding and sarcastic, Grunthor is the gruffly gentle giant – but I guess these type of characters re-appear because they work), they do keep the reader engaged and there are some funny moments and some touching places.

One thing I really did like about Rhapsody was the use of the prologue to forshadow the events in the rest of the book. It kept me wondering about how the current story would fit into the story of the prologue. While part of this is resolved by the end of the book, there is still a lot more to be played out, and I can’t wait to read the next book, Prophecy.

There are no major faults with this book, and while it’s not a book that has me gushing to everyone and anyone about it’s wonderfulness, it is still a very readable book. I enjoyed all of it and got through it with no trouble. My rating system is a little uneven, but I give it 4 out of 5 amulets. (I liked it better than Wolfskin but not as much as Sevenwaters).

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