Anyone that enjoys fantasy should read this book! Haydon did a great job on this series. If you like dragons, magic, battles, a spice of romance and tragedy thrown in the mix, you'll enjoy this book and the series.
Vanessa V. reviewed Rhapsody (Symphony of Ages, Bk 1) on
It's been a while since I read this book, but it gave a strong enough impression that I feel able to leave useful review and explain why I rated it so lowly.
Spoilers do follow, though I'll try to keep them limited to avoid anything story shattering.
The biggest flaw I found with the story is Rhapsody herself, which makes reading a series about her a chore. She's unlikeable and overpowered, making any challenge that comes her way barely a challenge at all. She gains control over fire and stumbles upon, and masters the use of, a sword that controls the oldest, strongest element of ether - star fire. She's the most powerful Namer on the planet, an ability that is by definition incredibly powerful, and perhaps the only one; in the four books I read of the series I never saw mention of another person with the same or a similar ability. There's a point in later books where she gains a position of high power through one of the laziest decisions I've seen in published writing. They might as well have handed it to her on a silver platter (and if my memory is right, they might have).
A certain event near the middle of the book changes Rhapsody's appearance, making her so beautiful that later people will throw flowers at her feet and just about every male character she meets is struck with overwhelming lust. To counteract this, Rhapsody is unable to see her own beauty and never notices the actions they inspire, attributing them to something else when she does, but instead of being admiring her modesty, viewing this as a humorous quirk, or seeing it as a result of low self-esteem, her ignorance comes off as a frustrating blindness and the fascination others have towards her quickly becomes tiresome.
I assume we're supposed to admire her flaws - her refusal to lie, even if it makes the situation drag on for pages; and her compassion that makes her go out of her way to help anyone she sees in needs, even if distracts her from the task at hand and ends up adding nothing to the story. Once again referring to a later book, I found her admission to the personification of Death that she'll one day ask for him to come for her unbelievable, not because of her request but because of his reaction. He claims in amazement that no one would ask him for such a thing, and yet I can't believe that he's never heard that before (surely there have been other people in the world tired with life). It came off more to me as a way of showing how unique she was then anything that added depth or interest to her character.
I've seen some people cite the other two main characters as a reason to read even when they felt neutral towards or couldn't Rhapsody, but neither of them managed to grab my interest, perhaps because of their own high opinions of, and habit of catering to, her. Gunthor came off as comic relief to me, put there to provide a middle ground between Rhapsody and the more serious third party member, who is your say-little and menace ninja-like assassin. I felt that none of the characters were able to see her flaws or did and just didn't care.
The good points: the book is what I'd call romantic fantasy, which I can't exactly find much of, though maybe I'm not looking in the right places. There's as much focus in the sequels in Rhapsody's partner as in the world-saving plot, and if that's your thing then you'll be pleased. In moderation, it's certainly a nice change, but anyone not looking to read about her love life will probably have to skim for a while, especially in the sequels where I recall an extensive love scene. One downside (or upside depending on how you look at it) is that this influences the writing style of the book, which, usually rich in description by itself, can wander to the realm of over description very easily. Some would call this purple writing; some will like the amount of detail.
Certainly, though, all would agree that her habit of repeating information we've previously heard is unneeded, as are the pages and pages of history that end up slowing down the middle and latter half of the book.
It's possible too that some of the concepts, while not new, might be underused enough in mainstream fantasy that they come off relatively fresh to a new reader. Certainly the elves (given a different name but elves all the same) aren't or the idea of giant magical trees, but the bard-like quality of Rhapsody's power will appeal to some.
My advice would be this: if you're looking for complex characters, protagonist and antagonist alike, and thought-provoking circumstances, look elsewhere. The bad guys here are bad guys with no depth to suggest otherwise, and few aspects have shades of gray. I don't remember enough of the overall plot to comment on it, but I do recall that there's no way of interpreting the main villain's actions with any kind of ambiguity - he's bad and his actions are bad.
If, however, you're looking for some light reading with clearly drawn good and bad guys, then give this a chance. After all, with PBS all you have to spend is a credit.
First of four (so far) in an EPIC FANTASY series. The lead is a strong, sensitive, sensuous woman. Her supporting cast is two good/bad guys. (And who isn't a mix of both good and bad.) Don't read this book if you don't want to get hooked on the series!
I really enjoyed this book initially.. it starts off with a strong romance and action right off the back.. then goes into deeper detail as it explores each character in more detail.. Rhapsody is an enjoyable spunky girl who is a powerful heroine who has an amazing lyrical talent.. Unfortunately for the book, it got stale in the middle of the book.. I found myself losing interest until once again near the end, she starts to bring together the lose ends, and tie it off, ready to set up for book 2. I ended up having to reread the entire book though, because the middle had put me off so much, I had put the book down for a period of time and ended up being lost at the end.
This was a great story idea, with good characters, and a smooth flow throughout much of the book. It was a good enough series that i moved through all of them within a month. At times, it drags and you wish the author could move it along, but all in all, i'm glad i read this book.
An interesting world with some interesting characters. Haydon is not the ultimate/bestest fantasy writer, but she's far from the worst! The world is intriguing, the characters are mostly interesting (I'm a little frustrated with some of the shallowness of the main character, although Haydon writes the book as if the character has depths of an abyss...) This is geared more towards younger female readers, though that doesn't preclude anyone else from enjoying it.
Rhapsody is a woman and 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 Rapsody literally bumps into a couple of shady characters. And winds up crossing space and time by the roots of the tree of life. Great couldn't put it down.
I did enjoy this book. The final book really dragged on and had very boring dialogue. Too much love stuff... this person kissed that person and la-de-dah - it was so nice. Give me a break. In my opinion that was purly page-filling fluff!