Rhapsody, n, (1542) 1: a portion of an epic poem adapted for recitation 2 archaic: a miscellaneous collection 3 a (1): a highly emotional utterance (2): a highly emotional literary work (3): effusively rapturous or extravagant discourse b: Rapture, Ecstasy 4: a musical composition of irregular form having an improvisatory character.
Elizabeth Haydon is a major new force in fantasy. Equipped with a quick wit, Haydon has a sharp ear for dialogue, panache with characters, and that essential ability to transport her readers into her own fantastical world-a world so real you can hear the sweet music of Rhapsody's aubade and smell the smoldering forges within the Cauldron.
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.
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Rhapsody is high fantasy, descended from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings through Eddings's Belgariad and Malloreon series, complete with an elf-like people, cannibalistic giants, fire-born demons, and dragons. Inquiring fantasy readers will wonder whether it can live up to such distinguished predecessors. The answer is yes. Haydon's first fantasy is a palpable hit. The three protagonists are well-realized characters whose adventures are by turns hilarious, horrific, and breathtaking. Best of all, though elements are drawn from familiar sources ranging from Norse myth to Mozart's The Magic Flute, Haydon's magic worldbuilding is convincing, consistent, and interesting.
Rhapsody, a young woman trained as a Namer, can attune herself to the vibrations of all things, tap the power of true names, and rename people, changing their basic identities. Her magic lies in music: "Music is nothing more than the maps through the vibrations that make up all the world. If you have the right map, it will take you wherever you want to go," she tells her adoptive brothers. They are "the Brother," a professional assassin able to sense and track the heartbeats of all natives of the doomed Island of Seren, their homeland, and his giant sidekick Grunthor, a green-skinned Sergeant Major who enjoys making jokes, using edged weapons, and honing his cannibalistic palate. Inadvertently, Rhapsody has renamed the Brother Achmed the Snake, breaking his enslavement to Tsoltan the F'dor (a fire-born demon). Tsoltan sends minions in pursuit to rebind Achmed. The three escape into the roots of a World Tree, Sagia, emerging transformed into another country and century. But have they truly escaped the F'dor's evil? And how does all this relate to the prologue's story of Gwydion and Emily, two young lovers brought together across history and then separated by the mysterious Meridion?
Like most first volumes, Rhapsody contains a lot of background information and foreshadowing, though Haydon ties up numerous plot lines at the end. The dislocations in time can be confusing, and some readers may find that the very 1990s dialogue clashes with the epic storytelling of the descriptive passages. Overall, however, Rhapsody is a smashing debut that delivers hours of great reading and will have you impatient to read the rest of the series. --Nona VeroFrom the Publisher:
"September marks the hardback debut of a great new fantasy talent. With RHAPSODY (4+), Elizabeth Haydon begins an epic saga worthy of Eddings, Goodkind and Jordan as the strands of time are twisted to bring two people together who would otherwise have never met. That encounter will reverberate through time and change everything. First, however, we must follow the adventures of a young woman who falls into the company of two mysterious strangers fleeing a deadly demon. Their journey will change her almost beyond recognition as she faces unspeakable evil and discovers unexpected camaraderie with her unusual companions. Beautifully rendering a mythological backdrop with a Welsh sheen, Ms. Haydon proves herself to be a spellbinding storyteller with the rare ability to manage remarkable characters with both intimacy and power." --Romantic Times
"Rhapsody is a very entertaining fantasy novel that is one of the better epic adventures of the year. . . a stirring epic fantasy that will receive numerous accolades from fans and critics." --Midwest Book Review
"With Rhapsody, Elizabeth Haydon makes a magnificent fantasy debut. Her voice is warm, often humorous, and sure, her world a richly realized place of myth and magic, and her characters complex and utterly compelling. I can hardly wait for the next book in the trilogy!" --Mary Jo Putney
"In Rhapsody, Elizabeth Haydon gives us strong, compelling characters in a world both mysterious and familiar. Drawn through wonders of the fantastic and of the human soul, we, the readers, are always moving forward, never sure of where the plot, with its surprising twists and turns, is taking us. But we are always interested in finding out." --J. Gregory Keyes
"A strong book . . . I wish you the best." --Mario Puzo
"A stunningly told tale by a new fantasy author who is sure to go far." --Anne McCaffrey
"Rhapsody is movingly-written, epic fantasy that works on many levels. I read this book with a growing sense of pleasure, impressed not only with the author's deft plotting but also with her use of language. Haydon is a writer." --Morgan Llywelyn
"A powerful novel. It is lucid, interesting, well paced, well organized, adventurous, magical, and with characters who are original yet consistent to themselves. There are sequences of considerable power . . . I see a larger story framework developing, as it were the foundation of a pyramid we have as yet glimpsed only in part. This author will surely go far. I am amazed by the growing number of strong new voices that are appearing these days in fantasy, hitherto mostly male. Elizabeth Haydon is sure to change that." --Piers Anthony
"Rhapsody provides readers with a different heroine and the kind of action and interplay that proves the art of story-telling is alive and well without recourse to huge and endless battles. Rhapsody is entertaining and often witty." --L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
"Prepare to lose a weekend. Elizabeth Haydon's Rhapsody is filled with wit, adventure, and delightful characters. Pick up this book at your own risk--of neglecting your family, friends, and chores--while under the enchanted spell of Rhapsody." --Kathi Kamen Goldmark
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