Rhapsody: Child of Blood (Symphony of Ages Series #1)

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The brilliant new saga is born ...

Rhapsody is a woman, a Singer of some talent, who is swept up into events of world-shattering import. On the run from an old romantic interest who won't take no for an answer, Rhapsody literally bumps into a couple of shady characters: half-breeds who come to her rescue in the nick of time. Only the rescue turns into an abduction, and Rhapsody soon finds herself dragged along on an epic voyage, one that spans centuries and ranges across a ...

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The brilliant new saga is born ...

Rhapsody is a woman, a Singer of some talent, who is swept up into events of world-shattering import. On the run from an old romantic interest who won't take no for an answer, Rhapsody literally bumps into a couple of shady characters: half-breeds who come to her rescue in the nick of time. Only the rescue turns into an abduction, and Rhapsody soon finds herself dragged along on an epic voyage, one that spans centuries and ranges across a wonder-filled fantasy world— a world so real you can hear the sweet music of Rhapsody's aubade and smell the smoldering forges deep within the Cauldron.

"The debut of a great new fantasy talent. With Rhapsody, Elizabeth Haydon begins an epic saga worthy of Eddings, Goodkind, and Jordan.... A spell-binding storyteller with the rare ability to manage memorable characters with both intimacy and power."—Romantic Times (4-1/2 stars out of 5)

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The debut of a great new fantasy talent. With Rhapsody, Elizabeth Haydon begins an epic saga worthy of Eddings, Goodkind, and Jordan.... A spell-binding storyteller with the rare ability to manage memorable characters with both intimacy and power."—Romantic Times (4-1/2 stars out of 5)

"A stunningly told tale by a new fantasy author who is sure to go far."—Anne McCaffrey

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Distinguished by superior wit and intelligence, this fantasy debut opens what looks to be an outstanding saga. In the ancient city of Easton, Rhapsody is learning musical magic after a brief time as a courtesan. While running from trouble caused by one of her ex-clients, she encounters two strangers, the assassin Achmed and the gigantic mercenary Grunthor. By hailing Achmed as her brother, Rhapsody not only saves her own life but breaks the control that the sorcerer Tsoltan, a servant of the fire demons known as F'dor, had over the mercenary. The three companions flee both human and magical forces that pursue them by climbing down the root of the Great Tree; as they pass through the fire at the center of Earth, their situation is magically transformed. They emerge not just on the other side of the world but 14 centuries in the future, when the land is torn by ethnic, religious and magical warfare arising from a multitude of realistic motives--all depicted in exhaustive detail. But their demonic pursuers have also crossed time and space in pursuit; to counter them, Achmed determines to become king of the barbaric Firbolg. This huge and complex novel draws expertly on deep scholarship in Celtic, Norse and animist folklore, myth and history. With exemplary skill, it weaves these elements into its characterizations, world building and depiction of magic to create a narrative that grips throughout. This is one of the finest high fantasy debuts in years. Agent, Richard Curtis. 100,000 first printing; major ad/promo. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
The land of Serendair is inhabited by humans, elflike Lirin, and the Bolg, a large, furry, warlike race. Rhapsody, a reformed halfLirin prostitute, runs from her enemies directly into the path of Achmed and Grunthor, two monstrouslooking Bolgish warriors. In the heat of the moment, she adopts them as her brothers and they defend her. The three become unwilling companions, outrunning human and demonic foes, and traveling together through time. Gradually, they grow close, especially when they find themselves more than a millennium from home, surrounded by danger, and with no way to return. After a particularly clumsy beginning, the prose improves. The grudging friendship that develops among Achmed, Grunthor, and Rhapsody is fun to watch. There is plenty of suspense until twothirds of the way through the book, when the story loses momentum with the introduction of a new central character and plot line, taking the narrative in a lessinteresting direction. Nevertheless serious fantasy fans may enjoy the bantering relationship of the three main characters, the kindhearted Grunthor's Cockney speech patterns (he says "Oi" for "I" and drops his "h"s), and Achmed's acid tongue. Rhapsody's dazzling beauty gets tiresome, especially because men react to the mere sight of her by falling into explicit sexual fantasies. The end clearly paves the way for a sequel, or perhaps a long line of them. VOYA CODES: 2Q 2P S A/YA (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 1999, Tor, Ages 16 to Adult, 544p, $27.95. Reviewer: Rebecca Barnhouse
Library Journal
Thrown into the past for a brief moment, Gwydion falls in love with a young woman named Emily only to lose her when he returns abruptly to his own time. In a parallel story, a true bard named Rhapsody travels through time to a distant future, where she uncovers a conspiracy of evil with its roots in a past now lost to her forever. Haydon's first novel launches her characters on an epic quest that spans centuries and lifetimes as an ancient prophecy moves inexorably toward fulfillment. Set in a world that borrows loosely from Celtic mythology, this series opener belongs in most fantasy collections. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
First of a much-hyped fantasy series. In Serendair, ex-whore Rhapsody flees an insistent and thoroughly unpleasant former client, only to encounter an enigmatic assassin enslaved by a F'dor, a primordial fire-demon. By swearing kinship with the assassin and renaming him Achmed the Snake, Rhapsody unwittingly frees him. Deeply suspicious of Rhapsody's Namer magic, the new Achmed abducts and interrogates her. The infuriated F'dor, meanwhile, sends forth the Shing, a thousand-strong army of shadow-beings dedicated to hunting Achmed down. Rhapsody, Achmed, and Grunthor, Achmed's gigantic warrior-sidekick, head for the Enchanted Forest's Great Tree, Sagia, whose roots extend through space and time. As they clamber inside Sagia's vast roots, Achmed explains that he and Grunthor are Bolg, hereditary enemies of the F'dor, whom they kill because the F'dor intend to wake the Primal Wyrm from its slumber deep inside the world, destroying everything in fire. Later, when they come upon the Wyrm, Rhapsody sings it into prolonged sleep. But to escape Sagia, they must pass through the fire at the world's core, where each is remade: Rhapsody becomes stunningly beautiful (though unconscious of her beauty) and acquires a flaming sword; Grunthor gains the powers of the earth, while Achmed can clairvoyantly sense the path ahead. They emerge on the other side of the world, to learn that 1400 years have passed. Serendair has been destroyed, though immortal survivors have populated this new land. Achmed decides it's time the Bolg had a king. But a malevolent spirit followed the colonists. Did the F'dor survive too? A well-worked-out backdrop of impressive depth and appeal, and there's a reasonable ifanticlimactic resolution. Despite the hype, though, newcomer Haydon's still feeling her way. (First printing of 100,000)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812570816
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 6/15/2000
  • Series: Symphony of Ages Series , #1
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 672
  • Sales rank: 284,873
  • Product dimensions: 6.74 (w) x 4.08 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Meet the Author

As the daughter of an air force officer, Elizabeth Haydon began traveling at an early age and has since traveled all over the world. She draws on the imagery of these visits in the Symphony of Ages series, and blends her love of music, anthropology, herbalism and folklore into much of her writing. Haydon is also a harpist and a madrigal singer (a singer of medieval songs). Currently, she works as an editor in educational publishing and lives with her family on the East Coast.

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Read an Excerpt



He moved like the shadow of a passing cloud, unseen, unnoticed, even by the wind that blew around him as if he were not there. He crept up the rise to the crest of the hill, his mismatched eyes scanning the fields below. It was partially in shadow, the scorched grass bent from the wind that rippled across the valley. Aside from the wind, nothing disturbed the silence.

As darkness covered the land he rose to a stand. The Brother turned and looked over his shoulder. He nodded and returned to his reconnaissance.

A moment later an enormous shadow joined him on the summit of the hill. In the remaining light of the setting sun the hilts of the weapons that jutted out from behind the giant's back resembled the armored claws of a gargantuan crab. The Sergeant matched the angle of his vision to the Brother's, then spoke.

"'Ow long we got?"

The figure in black paused before answering, his hooded head angled as if listening to a distant conversation.

"They are a quarter of an hour behind us. They are not what concerns me."

"Oi know." The heavily armed giant sighed. "We ain't gonna make it, are we?"

The Brother's eyes did not leave the horizon. "Ultimately, probably not." After a moment he looked up at his seven-foot companion. "You might, if you leave now, head elsewhere."

"No, sir," the giant replied, a wry grin revealing a carnivorous smile. "Oi've come this far; 'twould be a pity to turn back now. Besides, it'd only be a matter o' time before they caught up with me. If it's all the same to you, sir, Oi'd rather buy it 'ere with you."

The Brother nodded, and his gaze returned to the horizon once more. "Well, then, I'd rather not be caught with the hunters behind us." With a shrug of his shoulder the large, crossbow-like weapon the Brother carried across his back swung into his hands, and he was off down the face of the hill.

"Oi suppose not," said the giant to the wind, the only thing that remained with him on the hilltop.

• • •

The descent of darkness was heavier than the footfalls of the Brother, whose passing was unnoticed even by the small creatures of the field. Unseen as well; black weapons on black cloak, he was as tall and thin as one of the fading shadows to which he now clung. He made no sound, left no tracks, there was no way to tell he was there unless one happened to be keen-sighted enough to pick him out of the darkness in which he was wrapped. And that would have been most unfortunate for the witness, for, no doubt, his pulse would have quickened, his heart would have hesitated for a split second, and that would have been enough. The Brother would have sensed it, and the witness would have died before his next heartbeat.

The Brother slipped through the gusts of the wind, avoiding disturbing in any way the myriad vibrations of the world that few beside himself could sense. His targets were formidable, the signatures of their personal power strong; his former master had spared no expense in the hunt. The Brother had expected no less.

He dropped to one knee and positioned his weapon. Beneath his veils a grim smile took up residence. His targets were now in range.

He could not see them, not yet, but he didn't need to. In the distance he could feel the tread of their footsteps, the beating of their hearts. Like a shark in the water he could smell their blood, sense their movements. It was the reward of his inhuman inheritance, though he was more sensitive to these things than even Dhracians of full blood. He was the Brother; this was his gift.

He closed his eyes and sensed the movement of the air, the changes in the wind, the subtle currents that might alter the shot. Then he released his breath and gently squeezed the trigger of the weapon in his hands.

No bolt or quarrel was fired from the bow. Three whisper-thin metal disks, each the size of a maple leaf, were hurled from the three-foot-long weapon, projected by the force of recoil. They cut through the air, their course altered slightly by the strong breeze, but the marksman had accounted for those changes. Long before the projectiles had reached their target the Brother had reloaded and fired again, and again, sending volley after volley into the foreheads and eyes of his victims nearly a quarter-mile away.

Then the Brother was off, even as the first three disks sliced into the left eye socket of his first target, each one driving the other deeper into his skull before erupting through the other side and into the throat of the next victim. Four more of his predators died before they even noticed anything.

Only the commander had a moment to turn his head and look into the face of his own death before it met him. In the distance, already at the summit of the hill from which he had listened, the Brother paused and spared a backward glance.

"The commander was fast," he said to the giant, who nodded.

"Not fast enough, though, eh, sir?"

"Not this time."

• • •

The Brother's patrol of the area surrounding their campsite that night had assured him there was no one to witness their fire. Nonetheless, Grunthor placed three metal sheets in a barricade around it to block out the light. Extraordinary precautions were what kept them alive.

The giant Bolg looked questioningly at the heavy sack that contained their rations, and the Brother nodded. Grunthor sat down before the fire and opened the sack, dragging forth the haunch of a hind they had killed two days earlier.

Using one of its long bones as a spit, he positioned the meat on two small notches in the metal sheets, turning it over the low flames. The two sat in silence until the outside of the meat was charred, the Brother keeping his ear to the wind. Grunthor paid no attention; he knew the routine. If something was wrong, he would be told.

After a while the giant Bolg took the meat from the fire and ripped off a palm-sized piece. He handed it, still dripping with juice, to his companion, taking the remainder for himself. The Brother watched as Grunthor sheared the flesh from the bone with his teeth. Then he sliced his own piece with his dagger and began to eat. It had a foul, slightly fishy taste to it. He swallowed.

"This is pretty close to rotten."

The giant Bolg nodded. "Well, guv, we could start in on the dry goods."

"No. We need those for the trip along the Root."

"Oi know, but this is all we got left."

"What about the coney?"

"We ate it yestaday."

The Brother put down the rest of the meat. "Then tomorrow I'll hunt."

They returned to their accustomed silence. After a moment Grunthor stretched out downwind of the fire. The Brother watched the giant as he fell asleep. He let his mind wander, and was lost in the memories that had brought them to this place in time.

He recalled how he had walked across the devouring blackness that was the Deep Chamber of the F'dor. He could not stop his boots from sounding loudly on the polished obsidian floor.

The walls of the chamber were so distant that even if the room had been lit, he would still have had a poor view of the black volcanic-glass surfaces, intricately carved with obscene patterns. Despite the braziers burning with black fire, there was no illumination within the cavernous chapel except the circle of light that the Dhracian assassin had approached.

Within the circle stood the figure of a man clad in the crimson robes of the demonic priesthood, the man who had summoned him here, once human, now the human host of a demonic spirit, blended into one obscene entity. A man he would never have accepted voluntarily as a client.

The Brother had clenched his teeth as he fought against his instinctual reaction to the place, and to the creature he approached. Needles seemed to run in his veins as he repressed his natural response to the perversions of nature that were conducted here. His ancestral hatred, born of generations of racial crusades by the Dhracians against all F'dor, revolted at being in the place his race's enemies had made their home.

Both sides of his bloodline—the vibrationally sensitive Dhracian inheritance of his mother and the Bolg's love of the deep earth bequeathed to him by his unknown father—rebelled at the defilement of what had once been a holy site. Strongest of all was the disgust he felt towards the demonic spirit clinging to the no-longer-human figure that stood before him now. The Lord of a Thousand Eyes. The F'dor. Tsoltan. His master.

When he stepped into the circle of light he heard a soft voice speak, warm as honey.

"I have a job for you."

The dark priest's red-rimmed eyes searched the Brother for a reaction. The Dhracian's sensitive nerves screamed at the intrusion, a sensation similar to the prodding examination of a butcher searching for the best cut. The Brother did not answer. He was doing all he could to keep from breathing the same air.

"Your hand," said the demon-priest.

The Brother unclenched his fist and slightly extended his left palm.

The F'dor chuckled in the darkness. "Your resistance amuses me still," it said. "By now you've learned there is no way to reclaim your true name. Your service is too valuable to me. There is no price for which I would ransom it back to you, nor will I reveal how I obtained it."

Directly in front of the Brother a vine grew up from the glass floor. It seemed made of glass itself, spiked with obsidian thorns. A key was wrapped in its highest tendril.

"Take it."

With a decisive motion the Brother plucked the key from the vine. The obsidian tendril shattered like the stem of a fragile wineglass.

He held the key up before his half-Bolg eyes, the night eyes of a people who had risen up from the caves, smiling inwardly at the increase in the rhythm of the demon's formerly human heart, the only outward sign of its consternation at his defiance. The key itself was unremarkable except that it was made from a dark bone, its shaft curving as a rib might.

"You will take this key to the base of the failed land bridge to the northern islands. The foundation of this bridge contains a gateway unlike any even you have ever passed through. The fabric of the Earth is worn thin there; you may experience some discomfort. If you have passed through correctly, you will find yourself in a vast desert.

"You will know the direction to go, and an old friend of mine will come to meet you. Once there, you will agree to the time and date when you shall serve as his guide through the gateway to this side. My only concern is that it be as soon as possible. Return to me, and I shall prepare you as his guide. Is this clear?"


"You will tell me of the arrangement, and carry any message he might send."

"I am not a page."

"How right you are. You are but a footnote." The talisman around the neck of the demon caught the light from a distant brazier and glinted, black, in the darkness. Within the golden circle of flame was a pattern of red stones that spiraled into the center of the amulet, in which was carved the image of a solitary eye. It bore the same piercing stare that now met the Brother's own.

The F'dor approached him, and the Brother's nose wrinkled from the reek of burnt flesh on the demon's person, and especially its breath. It was a stench that accompanied all those of its race, but his master's malodor was particularly strong.

"I want this done quickly. It will make whatever trivial catalogue of death you think yourself responsible for a mere jot, an afterthought of inconsequence. I am the true master, and you will be my thrall until you follow me willingly, or are swept away in my victory."

He had done as the demon demanded.

The Brother had no compunction about death, did not shirk in the presence of evil, but what he had encountered in the wasteland beyond the horizon defied any horrific description of which his mind might be capable. In the face of the destruction that would ensue, the devastation that would come over the world, he decided instead, for the first time in his life, to run, to abandon all he had, to risk an eternity of something worse than death. Even for him, anything else would have been unthinkable.

• • •

The Brother shook off his thoughts at the stirring in the distance that had alerted his senses. The key was in his hand, glimmering slightly in the darkness, and he slipped it quickly back into the pocket where he carried it.

He looked in the direction of the vibrations and felt the presence of approaching wolves. They were a long way off, but they were on the prowl. A discordant vibration indicated they were not ordinary wolves, but animals used as eyes by the F'dor.

He made a soft clicking sound. Grunthor's eyes opened at once, and his hand went immediately to his weapons belt. He turned in the direction of the Brother without making a sound.

The Brother made a few fast hand signals: six wolves, three on each flank. Grunthor nodded, and with one hand drew his great bow. With the other he placed a large metal lid on top of the fire, smothering it without allowing the smoke to escape. The Brother held his own odd weapon, the cwellan, at the ready, while Grunthor positioned his pike close at hand. They waited.

The Dhracian's head tilted to one side as he concentrated on the animals. The wolves didn't even slow down. They continued on their prowl until they had passed over the horizon and beyond his senses. They had not noticed the small camp in the hidden dell. When they were well away, the Brother nodded and took a breath, exhaling deeply. Grunthor did the same.

"They're getting closer," the Brother said.

"No surprise really, is it, sir? They've got our scent, and we've got that key. They can probably feel it."

"I know. We have to make haste to another city. Get lost in the crowd."

"Lovely. Oi know how much you like cities."

When the deepest part of the night had passed and the summer rain began, the two broke camp and headed for Easton ahead of the approaching thunderstorm.

Copyright © 1999 by Elizabeth Haydon

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Table of Contents

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Interviews & Essays

Back in 1999, B&N.com SF & Fantasy editor Andrew LeCount had the pleasure of speaking with author Elizabeth Haydon. Topics discussed included the launch of her ambitious new fantasy epic, Rhapsody, her strict attention to detail, her favorite character to write, and the wild New Orleans night that sparked her writing career. Enjoy our interview.

B&N.com: Tell us about your debut fantasy novel, Rhapsody. Set up the story line for those who have yet to discover it.

Elizabeth Haydon: Three mismatched companions come together unintentionally and end up escaping the devastation of their homeland in a fiery cataclysm. Rhapsody is the story of their journey across time, away from the doomed Island of Serendair to a place that may be even more dangerous; the riddle entwined in the history of the new land; and the mystery of the evil that may have survived with them.

Rhapsody is a Singer, a woman who has been forced to serve some time in the streets as a prostitute and now is studying the ancient musical arts of her mother's people, the Lirin science of Naming. While attempting to escape the henchmen of an obsessed former client, she falls in with two shady characters, a gigantic Firbolg mercenary named Grunthor, who is a Sergeant-Major by trade, and a mysterious assassin known only as The Brother. Both men are on the run from an ancient demon who is in possession of The Brother's true name, planning to flee the Island.

In the course of their tangled meeting, Rhapsody uses her newly learned power to rename the Brother "Achmed the Snake". This action snaps the metaphysical collar of servitude the demon has used to keep the assassin in his thrall, setting "Achmed" free. The two men decide to take Rhapsody with them, since they don't know whether her actions have saved the assassin or compromised him even further.

The companions travel to a primeval wood, a holy forest where the Great Tree, Sagia, grows. Legend says that this enormous oak grows in one of the five places where time itself began, and its roots wind through the Earth, tying it to all things that grow. It is through the root of this tree that the three companions escape, and find themselves on the other side of time, 14 centuries in the future, in a place colonized by the descendants of the people who fled their homeland before it was destroyed. As they traverse this new and strangely violent continent, they begin to suspect that they are not the only inhabitants of Serendair who have survived -- that the evil they escaped on one side of the world may be here, in the new world, hiding in wait for its time to come forth.

B&N.com: Explain your use of music in Rhapsody.

EH: In the mythos of this story, the five elements that formed the world -- fire, water, air, earth, and ether (the matter that makes up the stars) -- still resonate power left over from the time of creation. That power gives off vibrations. Certain individuals, because of physiology or training, can manipulate those vibrations and derive power from them. I suppose some might call this magic, but it has a scientific basis.

Achmed is an example of physiology making use of those vibrations. He is half-Dhracian, a race that has a skin-web of exposed veins and nerve endings that make Dhracians sensitive to the currents of the air and the various signatures of vibration around them. Achmed's particular gift allows him to track the heartbeats of humanoid prey; he can sense the unique rhythm of an individual's heart, match his own pulse to it, and follow it without error. In a way, this is a use of music.

Rhapsody is a more traditional example of musicianship. At one point, she explains to Achmed and Grunthor that different kinds of music are the maps through the vibrations that make up all the world, and that if you have the right map, it will take you to wherever you want to go. Those of her race and profession have long studied musical lore and are the depository of a vast treasure of songs of history. In addition, she has attained the highest level of this profession; she's a Namer, someone so attuned to the music of a given thing's name that she can alter the reality around it through musical manipulation. Namers are foresworn to the truth, because if they interject any false notes into a given "song," it dilutes its power.

There is music all through the Rhapsody trilogy -- grisly (and humorous) marching cadences sung by the Firbolg, songs of healing and Naming, war chants and lullabies -- it is ever-present in the description of the world around them, the wind in the forest trees, the song of the Earth as they crawl within it. My clearest memory of C. S. Lewis and Tolkien was hearing music the whole time I was reading, like a soundtrack. I hope that comes across somewhat in Rhapsody as well.

B&N.com: How much research went into your novel? According to your web site (www.elizabethhaydon.com), many of the marvelous weapons in Rhapsody were influenced by actual arms. Give us a few examples.

EH: An embarrassing amount of research went into this book; I'm an editor by profession, and we tend to be anal-retentive when it comes to accuracy. It would be nice to be able to relax a little and just let the creativity flow, but alas, I fear it will be an uphill battle against my nature as long as I'm writing. In addition to the research, I coaxed quite a few experts in various fields to review the manuscript for accuracy, to make sure the herbalism, music theory, archaeology, anthropology of the various racial societies, weaponry, and military tactics were all correct. The languages are linguistically accurate. Everything else I just kind of made up.

Some weapons examples: The knives that the Bolg manufacture are based on a triple-bladed throwing knife of the Bwaka people of central Africa, which rotates in flight and can pierce at almost any attitude at which it impacts. Achmed's cwellan (which is the Old English word for "kill") is based on a form of Mongolian crossbow, which hurled projectiles at a side angle by force of recoil. Grunthor is a weapons enthusiast and a walking arsenal; I had to make certain that the tech level of the weapons in his stash were appropriate to the approximate technology period of Rhapsody and to the natural resources of the places he had traveled.

B&N.com: Talk a bit about the prophecy in which you refer to the "lifestages of all men" -- Blood, Earth, and Sky.

EH: Aw, come on -- that would be telling! Well, OK, just a little bit. The prophecy you refer to was uttered at the end of a terrible war, which had divided the Cymrians against each other and the continent against itself. They were looking for a reason to have hope, and they asked the Seer of the Future, who was mad and spoke in riddles, if so great a rift could be mended. This was her answer:

The Three shall come,
leaving early,
arriving late,
The lifestages of all men:
Child of Blood,
Child of Earth,
Child of the Sky.

Each man,
formed in blood and born in it,
Walks the Earth and sustained by it,
Reaching to the sky,
and sheltered beneath it,
He ascends there only in his ending,
becoming part of the stars.

Blood gives new beginning,
Earth gives sustenance,
the Sky gives dreams in life --
eternity in death.

Thus shall the Three be,
one to the other.

One of the repeating themes in the trilogy examines truth and deception, and how close they can sometimes be. While the Seers can only speak the truth, they don't always reveal everything they know, and sometimes what they say is technically true, but deceiving. Prophecies can have more than one meaning, and they don't always mean what they seem. Achmed ignores them for this reason.

The line in the prophecy that is in the past tense -- formed in blood and born in it -- is in general a reference to birth, the first lifestage of man. The line in the present tense -- walks the Earth and sustained by it -- alludes to the second and primary lifestage, the actual lifespan. The line in future tense -- reaching to the sky, and sheltered beneath it, he ascends there only in his ending, becoming part of the stars -- refers to death and afterlife. Each of these examples also refers to one of the Three, those whose coming was foretold as one way that the rift might be healed. It is possible that Achmed could be the Child of Blood, given that he is an assassin; Grunthor is tied to the Earth; and Rhapsody is Liringlas, a Skysinger, the race known as children of the sky. But of course, I can't promise anything, because, after all, one should never trust prophecies completely, because they don't necessarily mean what they seem.

B&N.com: Do you have a favorite character to write? I must say, Grunthor is my favorite to read.

EH: He's my favorite to write as well. What's fun about Grunthor is that he's such a contradiction -- ferocious and gentle, a brutal adversary, a no-nonsense Sergeant Major to his troops, but sweet to Rhapsody and later to Jo, the teenage street urchin she adopts. For a Firbolg crossbred with an even more monstrous race, he embodies a good deal of personal wisdom and uncommon grace. He likes to sing grisly marching songs. Plus he's funny. He is the fulcrum between Achmed and Rhapsody, who are opposite sides of the same coin. While they both undergo tremendous transition, Grunthor remains consistent. And he reminds me a great deal of my editor, Jim Minz.

B&N.com: What drove you to write fantasy fiction in the first place?

EH: Clinical insanity. Actually, it was a favor to an editorial friend. I had read C. S. Lewis as a young child, Tolkien as an older one, and some fantasy in college, but had lost touch with the field after that. I work in educational publishing. In 1994, I met up with an editorial friend and mentor in New Orleans at the American Library Association conference, and he asked me to write him a fantasy that might cross over to other genres and contain some of the mutual interests we shared, like medieval music, history, anthropology, and herbalism. I was uncertain about it (we had been drinking something called Dixie Blackened Voodoo, and initially, I thought he was drunk when he suggested it) because I had never written a novel before, but when it became clear he really wanted me to do it, I gave it a shot. I created a universe's history and then fell in love with the story. Writing in this genre has awakened a long-dormant creative side of me that I never realized I missed so much.

B&N.com: Is it true there is a movie in the works?

EH: Yes, it was optioned for film even before it was offered to publishers as a book. The screenplay is almost done.

B&N.com: Rhapsody is a massive fantasy novel -- in size and in scope. How many volumes do you see your series spanning? When can we expect Volume No. 2?

EH: Volume Two of the trilogy, Prophecy: Child of Earth,, is due out in July 2000. It's complete and in the process of minor revisions right now, so I don't expect any significant delays unless I get a hernia carrying it to the post office.

Part of the development of the Rhapsody trilogy was the mapping out of the world's history from its formation to its destruction. I wrote it with a time line; if the beginning of the world is zero on the time line, and the farthest event I could envision is ten, Rhapsody takes place approximately at six. I know what came before this era, and what will follow it.

Because this story is a history, it has many epochs to it, eras of time which are distinct stories. The trilogy that began with Rhapsody will offer a definitive conclusion to this story at the end of the third volume. I'm an impatient reader myself, and I need some points of conclusion in a story, so I can't see myself writing a completely open-ended series with the same characters going through a series of new adventures each time. That being said, there are eras both before and after this trilogy that I would love to explore. The surviving characters from this trilogy do have future stories. Also extremely interesting to me is the exploration of the stories that precede the trilogy -- the events that are history to the people in Rhapsody. All of this depends, of course, on the readers.

B&N.com: Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, Elizabeth. Tons of luck with Rhapsody.

EH: Thank you. I appreciate your time and the opportunity.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 115 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 115 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 22, 2008


    To be honest, I¿m a little shocked to see this book getting such rave reviews when I found myself so disappointed in it. While I can see the appeal of it I think its faults weigh it down, smothering any real promise the series held.<BR/><BR/>I¿ve read reviews applauding Haydon for her three-dimensional, realistically flawed characters, and couldn¿t disagree more. They all come across as stereotypes to me ¿ the sarcastic assassin, best in the world; his humor relief sidekick, a monster with a gold heart; and the selfless, achingly beautiful title character, the most powerful in the book ¿ characters who, with some work, could have come across as interesting and, more importantly, likeable. As it stands, however, I couldn¿t have cared less about any of them, quite a bad thing when nearly half the book focuses solely on their interactions with each other, and the two sequels only increased my annoyance, partially with Rhapsody.<BR/><BR/>Rhapsody is beautiful, and you better get used to hearing about it because the book never fails to remind you. It¿s not a natural beauty, however, but rather something gained through the plot, and enthralls anyone who sees her to the point of mindless lust and distraction. I¿ve seen incredibly beauty done well before but this serves no purpose except to make Rhapsody that much more special, and her mindless refusal to accept her changes quickly becomes aggravating.<BR/><BR/>Rhapsody is an annoying perfect character, even when her looks aren¿t taken into account. She¿s got powers that are unmatched; is selfless to the point of stupidity, which, even when commented on, works out in her favor; and is either proved right at the end or wins every confrontation. Who doesn¿t like to see their MC fail once and a while, to seriously struggle for something and lose? And don¿t let her prostitution history fool you; it barely left any lasting effect and one particular passage just proves her selflessness yet again, proving that this point in her history was just a ploy to make the reader feel sorry for her.<BR/><BR/>The plot didn¿t strike me as anything special and at times seems to lose itself or wander off, with the characters doing this-and-that despite the apparent urgency of their situation. The characters reactions to events were rather limited, and when I think back I can only recall Rhapsody usually being angry over one thing or another, stubbornly refusing to see the other person¿s point of view or let them explain him or herself. And how easily things to seem come to them; I never felt like they were really working for anything because the consequences either weren¿t there or were forgotten a few chapters later. Want to become the most powerful nation on the planet and uncover an ancient civilization? Accomplishable in a few easy months, with the added bonus of embarrassing anyone who tries to stop you in a crushing display of power.<BR/><BR/>On a positive note, while the writing can become overly descriptive and you¿ll hear the same prophecy three or four times, I found it easy enough to read and some of the descriptions were even pleasant. Considering the flaws, though, I do regret spending my money on this. I suggest renting it from a library first, if possible, as it has the ability to leave a bad taste in your mouth.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Series!

    Although this first book is a bit slow-starting, it is the beginning of one of the most original series of the fantasy genre! It contains strong, memorable characters, interesting plot-lines, and a great deal of clever dialog! It is one of the few series I made time to read twice - and that's saying something! If you like this series, you might also like the "Thief's Gamble" by Mckenna, the "Wayfarer Redemption" by Sara Douglass, and "Aware" by Glenda Larke.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2010

    Incomplete Series...

    Great series, but unfinished. As of 2006, no information or anything about the next book is to be found anywhere. She dropped this series and moved onto a childrens series. As far as I'm concerned all her Symphony of Ages books should be pulled off the shelves. Its unfair to her readers. I would have never spent the money knowing it wouldn't be finished. I don't recommend any of these books.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2012


    I first read this triligy several years ago and gound it a captivating, exciting, and imaginative tale. The characters are well drawn with a depth that brings each to vivid life. The tale is full of an immediacy but also full of mystery and deep drama which expands slowly over time. The pace is spot on with just the right degree of emotional depth drawing in the reader and engaging the heart while providing pulse pounding action, suspense, mystery, and emotional depth. I highly reccomend not only the triligy but also the following related books. ---------------------- I am excited the author finally converted her work to the Nook. I misplaced my original hard copies during a move and have waited quite awhile to obtain digital copies.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 22, 2010

    Rhapsody Long Time Fan

    I love these books. The first three are wonderfull but you probably don't want to buy the hardcovers for the last three because second series is unfinished. I don't know if a new one is coming out or not (havent looked recently). But the first three are wonderful. 4 and 5 are good too but that I have seen the secon series is not finished. I have not yet red the 6th book (assassin king). I hope it is as good as her other books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Amazing Fantasy book loaded with love, passion, violence and all the goodies you are looking for.

    What a fantastic jumpstart to a great serious. Haydon is a master of generating in vivid detail the environment in which surrounds Rhapsody. You can picture your self right next to her playing the harp, saving children and slaying half man creatures. Each adventure Rhapsody forgoes turns into a highly detailed rendering of the best fanstasy world iv ever read about. Being a huge fan of fantasy books and a avid reading of hundreds of fantasy novels, Rhapsody by far tops the list. It marvelous how Haydon creates each character so unique from any others I have ever read. Haydon just nails the amazing details and the love and passion i have not found in any other fantasy novels, but she didnt leave out the blood and gore for the male readers who will also enjoy this stunning read of the most real fantasy world iv ever journeyed in through a book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    An amazing novel worthy of J.R.R. tolkien!!!!!!!!!!!!

    this book was amazing, i took it camping with me and i didn't do anything while i was there until the book was finished. it keeps you on the edge of your seat, you get to know the characters at an early stage so that you fell everything that they feel... you really CONNECT with the characters.. the plot is amazing... it has amazing twists, and turns, it is very climatic- and her other novels and even her childrens books are just as great- i can't wait to read more from this author...!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    I truly enjoyed this, over and over

    This book is definitely one of those I will always keep around and recommend to my friends. Although some doubt the characters, it's the story line that is beautiful in and of itself with the attention to detail in trying to recreate an entirely new world. Admittedly, no one can surpass the sort of world created by someone like Tolkein, but in that way, it works for this story. Yes, as one reviewer said, you do tend to hear a lot about just how beautiful the main character is, but there's a reason - it's one of her main insecurities and often functions as a reason for the story's conflicts (in other words, it wouldn't make sense having men start wars around one woman for no apparent reason apart from the fact that her beauty is hypnotic).<BR/>The story is beautiful and very complex and there are quite, albeit mostly supporting characters that are extremely complicated, but there's a reason and it's understandable when you read the first book. Their personalities aren't meant to be confusing - the point is that you're supposed to be worrying about the reaction the other characters have to the main three.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2006

    Truly a well orchestrated Symphony

    Please note that this review goes for the entire series, but fear not, there are NO spoilers. First I must commend Haydon's genius for her powerful control not only of her characters' personalities and individualities, but also her amazing talent for having them grow on each other, and her command of verbal fluency for each. Second, I find the strange allure of a book series revolving around time, vibrations and history mindboggling. She has turned three things so trite (to me) into some of my favorite things. Bravo. Third, the plot is refreshingly interesting. It's rare to find a fantasy book where the story makes sense, doesn't contradict itself, yet adds new criteria with each and every page. Besides, Haydon has done a spectacular job at making a female character--a whore no less--into a main character that doesn't seem revolting at all--okay, maybe a little, but not much--an assassin portrayed with love, torn into by his past and plagued by the present, with only the future to comfort him, and a giant cannibal with a mean array of war ballads and a great source of comic relief. Haydon has turned the everlasting fantasy genre backwards, upside down, and inside out. Thank you for restoring my favorite genre back into something readable, plausible, and yet...fantastic. With all the meaning I can muster, -Leavaros Dapple

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2002


    I made the hastly jugement that one should never make when buying a book - I juged it on the cover. The only thing I can say for this book is that it has good orginal discriptions. The reason i find this book so unbearable is on the acount nothing happens untill page 300. I mean after the first 80 or so pages the charcters were stuck in a monsterous sized tree for 160 pages, sleeping, eating, and building relations with one another. YAWN. How this book managed to find its way on the best sellers the world may never know. Writers need to take more responsiablity for what they put their readers through.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2014

    Favorite book ever!

    A must read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2013


    DON'T BUY BEFORE READING THIS!!! I would have recommended this series to anyone (I got excited about the first 3 each being over 1,000 pages and loved the plot and characters) but after the 6th one I could not find the next book. That's because there ISN'T ONE... just ends abruptly in the middle of a brewing war and what seems to be the climax of the series! Then I find out it's never been finished!!! What a blow to the stomach, a heartwrenching disappointment, and a waste of time and money....

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2012

    Not finished

    I found the 6 book series was great. Until the end of the last book. The series just stops and has never been finished, i do not recommend this because of this. And there is no more website to go to. I cant find her wedsite. Furthermore i have just wasted my time and money that will never be finished. Just one more point fir her and her publishers who are collecting royalties, you have made your money off me this time , but you have certainly made my sympathies more favorable to self publishing arthors

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2012

    Enjoyable Read

    I really enjoyed this book!

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  • Posted May 30, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    love the whole series

    I loved this series. These are my all time favorite books. The Assassin King was my least favorite but i loved Destiny.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Amazing series!

    Rhapsody is just the beginning of an epic tale of a love that lasts time, war, and the destruction of a world. If you want high fantasy this is the series that has it all. Haydon mixes the magic of music and the elements of the earth to create a story that is intricate and detailed without being overly obsessive about description

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Very original

    When reading this book, everything is so vivid and new. I love the way it starts and throws you into the story. The middle was a little slow, but it just helps you sympathize with the characters. I love the comedy and naivety of Rhapsody, you just fall in love with her at first sight. I will continue to keep this book in my library.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2007


    I love this book and the series. I highly recommend this book to all fiction readers, even the ones that don't normally like 'sci-fi'.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2007

    The Best!!

    This was one of the most wonderful books I have ever read. I must have read it a hundred times and then the two that follow are just as great. I recommend this book to everyone.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2007

    Read at your own risk. You might not be able to stop!

    This book is enthralling! Easily one of the best books i have read, and certainly different from the 'norm.' Easy to pick up, hard to put down. No word of a lie.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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