We each have our blessings and our curses. In the end it makes us equals.Elizabeth Haydon, Rhapsody Child of Blood
I had to look in the front of my copy of Rhapsody, Child of Blood, by Elizabeth Haydon to determine when and where I first found her Symphony of Ages series. It turned out it was the used bookstore near my house near the university. According to the written $5 price tag in front of the first three books in the series, I became hooked by those first three books to a Namer, an Assassin, and a giant Sergeant-Major who forged a friendship based on a rescue and an abduction.
Rhapsody was a beautiful find. Back when many of my favourite books had male leads, Rhapsody appeared with a female protagonist who made mistakes and yet believed in herself and the rules she lived by. Rhapsody grew up in a rural environment. Naive to the world events, she left for the city once she had her heart and trust broken. In the city, she found life was not easier, yet she survived. Until the day came, Michael, a previous client and tormentor, sent his men to kidnap her. Cornered, she asked two thugs in the ally temporarily to adopt her and renamed the assassin, Brother, to Achmed the Snake. At that moment, she changed all of their destinies and ended up abducted. She used her abilities as a Namer to rename him, then Achmed kept her close as he ran from the demon who enslaved him until the renaming.
“As to who I am, and your fate, both of those are yet to be determined. You spoke my name and then changed it. Normally this would only be an annoyance, but those who are hunting us can make the dead speak, and surely will if they feel they can learn something.Achmed the Snake, formerly Brother; Elizabeth Haydon, Rhapsody
Thus began the journey of the three companions, though Rhapsody was not a willing one. The three fled Serendair island within the roots of the ancient tree. Time passed at greater speed outside the roots, and by the time they reached the other side, they arrived in another time and place.
I fell in love with Rhapsody after she met her new travel companions. The tenacity of her character and her ability to see the good in life is inspiring. The series itself is full of fast action, regime changes, the building of empires, and love. Yet it is Rhapsody’s personal journey as she mourns her former life and moves towards a new one I found to empathize with.
I did not travel along the roots of time, but I have left behind family and friends as we have moved between countries. It is always hard to say goodbye and to mourn the bits of yourself you leave behind. Finding yourself and your place in a new town, state, country, continent is difficult. It is your travel companions you depend on most Luckily for me, my companions are family, however, it would amuse me to travel with Grunthor.
Elizabeth Haydon wrote the book in a style I would expect focusing on a singer. There are slow parts and fast parts held together by the rhythm of Rhapsody’s growth and emotions. At some points she is contemplative, and the movement is slow, at others she is fighting to survive and the pacing is fast.
An intriguing part of the character development for me is how two-dimensional Rhapsody appears to the male population. She is a focus of adoration or lust, not a complete individual. If it wasn’t for her growing relationships with Achmed and Grunthor, she wouldn’t be interesting. Those two make the story and bring out the qualities in Rhapsody that prove she is more than a thing to look at.
Achmed has wounds on his wounds, he has so much emotional and physical baggage. His temperament, on a good day communicative, his awareness of the world as a stark place where those fighting for power will use any means necessary to take and keep power. He was the reason I loved the series. Grunthor grows little but is a mentor character. With a big heart and an enormous collection of weapons, he is well aware of who he is and is content. The two of them caused a lot of damage along their travels, but never to gather power. They were survivors.
As they released this book in 1999, it does not have the fast action expected in epic fantasies today. Instead, it builds and ebbs. But if you enjoy changes of pace within a book, it is an enjoyable series. Rhapsody becomes more than a face, while Grunthor and Achmed find a cause worth fighting for. There are other characters who become important as the series continues, but for me, Achmed and Grunthor’s stories hold the most intrigue, with Rhapsody’s personal growth as a second. The world-building is unique and exquisite, the plot interesting, overall, I enjoyed reading the series to its end.