The Symphony of Ages Set Paperback – 15 Sep 2003
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Boxed Set containing Mass Market Paperback editions of Rhapsody, Prophecy, and DestinyR....
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Top Customer Reviews
Rhapsody, the singer who can alter objects by song (yes reminiscent of the Spellsinger books but better in my opinion), Achmed, a talented assassin who has a very blunt approach to the world, and Grunthor, the Firbolg warrior (AKA an Ogre.
The series follows their journey through a number of trials to the eventual "will they save the world" climax.
Not an original plot I must admit however the characters were enjoyable, the world well described, the society interesting and
the adventure page turning.
If you like David Eddings, Juliet E. McKenna and Robin Hobbs you will enjoy these. They are best described as a feel good series that I thoroughly enjoyed.
"Rhapsody" introduces us to a potentially interesting heroine and world -- Rhapsody is an ex-prostitute bard who is also a Singer, able to change reality by her voice. After a run-in with a former "client's" henchmen, she ends up with a hired assassin and his ogre-ish sidekick -- and then goes through "The Root," in a life-changing trip through time.
"Prophecy: Child of Earth" continued the story as Rhapsody and Co. battle a demon, gain new powers, and battle the future Battle That Will Either Save Or End The World. Okay, whatever. In the finale of the trilogy, "Destiny: Child of the Sky," the group is battling the evil F'Dor, and Rhapsody learns the secrets of her past and what might destroy her love.
Here's a tip for all wannabe authors: No matter how much you want us to like your hero(ine), don't make him/her perfect. Apparently Elizabeth Haydon never got that tip. Her excruciating heroine makes the angels look positively selfish -- and it's enough to make you sick. Too bad Haydon didn't focus the series on creepy assassin Achmed or part-dragon Ashe -- either one would make a more interesting lead than Rhapsody.
Haydon does redeem her book somewhat with her writing, which makes good use of language and has quite a few prettily written passages. She also conjures up some truly intriguing ideas, such as Rhapsody's singing ability and the Root.Read more ›
It is written in such a way as to keep you guessing until the very end, and leaves you begging for more! Vivid descriptions and details bring this series to life, enabling your imagination to explore and almost believe it could be real in some aspects!
The balance of the characters is brilliant, with Rhapsody's irrepressable optimism, countered by Achmeds complete distrust of anybody (or thing!) and both set off perfectly against Grunthor's down to earth and humerous world view.
One of those books I find myself reading over and over again, I would recommend this to almost anyone, except perhaps those who are particularly squeamish!
Indulge and Enjoy.
Book two was a let down, chapter after chapter of talking while on a journey. Interspersed with occasional brief action. I just could not finish it, I was bored to death. Never even started on the last book in the set.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I have to agree with a lot of the comments posted here and under the individual book titles. While the overall plotline is quite entertaining and certainly deserves the often lavish praise doled out by the reviewers on the book jackets, at times the story drags almost interminably. At other times it rockets along and before you know it you have consumed 100 pages. In general, in my opinion the good parts outweigh the bad, but with a little more careful writing (and editing) these books could have realized the concept's greatness. Rhapsody's world is a compelling, well-thought out one, and I give kudos to the author for the obvious work she put into creating it. The characters are generally good, but the perfection of the main heroine after she emerges from "the Root" into the new world is tiring at times. Up until Rhapsody is transformed into this almost-goddess-like caricature, she is actually a very interesting character. We like at least some flaws in our characters, something we can identify with even as they look past their flaws to win against enormous odds. The problem is that Rhapsody has few flaws in the new world, other than possibly being too nice and unable to make hard choices when it comes to fighting the demon-like F'dor. That could in itself be a flaw, except that somehow Rhapsody ends up saving almost everyone she ever cared about in all 3 books while still triumphing in the end despite her propensity to forget the larger picture in favor of her "grandchildren".
The other characters do not have this perfection to such a degree, although all but Achmed (the former Brother) are very noble and likeable. Life is hard and war is hell, and at times the whole thing just seems to be a little too easy, a little too neat and convienent to be real. But all that being said, I do recommend this trilogy. Be warned, the ends of books 1 and 3 drag pretty badly at times, Book 2 is clearly the strongest. I can only hope that Hayden uses Book 2 as a template for furture efforts, because she definately has potential to create great books.
The books turned out to be really good, and after reading them, falling head-over-heels with the three main characters, Rhapsody, Achmed and Grunthor I picked up other series, but have been coming back to this one ever since.
I know that a lot of people find this series a let-down, others are disgusted with this series because of its heroin, or Haydon's writing style, plus the element of romance mixed in. But don't let that fool you. I have read a LOT of fantasy series, and just about all of them have the typical trappings and plastic stables of the genre. The majority of the characters just bore me to death (such a the Shannara trilogy by Terry Brooks, which is a rip-off of J.R.R.Tolkiens Lord of the Rings) and the plots were too familiar for me to be able to continue reading.
But Elizabeth Haydon brings fresh air into a staled room. Her heroic trio are unlike anything I have ever read before and are very original. Rhapsody, a Lirin Namer who is sworn to tell the truth. Achmed, the Snake, who is the legendary Assassin from Serendair once known as The Brother. And his old companion, Grunthor, the Sergeant Major who loves singing marching cadences, "eating," Lirin and collecting weapons. The relationship between all of them is funny at times and yet very touching, and I' am so touched by how their moods can effect my own. This is a book where you "feel," for the characters, as I have explained in other reviews of this series.
But if you don't like romance, or fantasy for that matter, than don't bother with this series. But if you don't mind, than try picking up The Symphony of Ages, which is a Bestseller around the world and cherished by millions. And if you like or even love the trilogy, try picking up also the two "abridge, stand-alone," novels after the trilogy (Requiem for the Sun and Elegy for a Lost Star) as well as the final books The Assassin King (the first book of the War of the Known World trilogy), and the last two unknown titles.
Here are some thoughts/highlights:
* The series begins with a woman who we discover is a Singer in an Earth-like world where magic exists. Her singing has magical powers, which she (sometimes annoyingly) doesn't quite realize until much later. She meets a strange young man who appears from out of nowhere, whom she falls inescapably in love with, and then he disappears as quickly as he arrived.
Distraught, she ends up running away from home to avoid being married off in some archaic village courting system and begins her Singing study as she also makes money doing "the oldest profession in the world". Yes, folks, there is SEX in this series - and a fair amount of it (some of it consensual, some of it not, some of it brutal, etc). During the course of her work, she meets up with a horrible and brutal "client", and her temper gets the better of her and she ends up on the run from him. Enter two very grotesque-looking strangers whom she literally runs into, who ultimately both save her and kidnap her at the same time. The 3 companions, all on the run, end up entering the very bowels of the earth via some magical portal. Unbeknownst to them, they spend hundreds and hundreds of years traversing through the center of the earth to get to the magical exit portal on the other side of the planet. Generations have passed, her former homeland had been destroyed, but many people escaped on boats to arrive in this very land where she has arrived....including her former brutal client.
The 3 companions were changed in the course of meeting and traversing the bowels of the earth, and when they arrive they discover there's evil that came with the boats from the former land. These 3 companions find it hard to know who to trust and what path to take to deal with all of the evils around them. Ultimately, their destinies bring them to places they could never have imagined, given them powers they still are learning to use, and a purpose they cannot escape. Oh, and might I also add that the young man in question at the very beginning, plays a bigger role than could have ever been imagined.
Rhapsody's constant self-depreciation can get annoying, I admit, and secrets and situations that combine with her stubborn nature make you want to throw your book into the fire at moments...but hang in there, PLEASE! You will be rewarded by the end of book 3 for your persistence. The other books after book 3 really are stand-alone types of books with little adventures they go through after the major themes were resolved in book 3, but those books are not included in this box set, so no worries. You can totally end the series at book 3 and feel satisfied.
Included: heartache, sex, violence, fantasy, magic, dragons, swords, strange languages, deep evil, more sex, traveling about (!), time travel (of a sort), mysteries, quests, more evil, LOVE, friendship, more magic, betrayal, brutal atrocities (see: violence and evil), kingdoms to conquer, armies, and the ever-present question of what defines "family". Don't walk, RUN to read this series.