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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best in many a year
This book has it all--great writing, characterization, action, magic and mystery. The plot makes sense, the emotions are real, and it is entrancing. The marketing copy on every fantasy book that comes out heralds its author as the new master. This one actually could live up to that title.
Achmed the Snake has to be one of the all time great characters in recent...
Published on April 18, 2000 by Brian Cramer

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61 of 78 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rhapsody
My biggest problem with this tale is that I simply couldn't figure out the book's intended target audience. The story is too unsophisticated for adults and is too full of sexual references for children. It might have made a fine "young adult" novel if not for the frequent sexual content.
The first chapter reads like some sappy "true confession"...
Published on November 23, 2000 by The Feisty Curmudgeon


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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best in many a year, April 18, 2000
This book has it all--great writing, characterization, action, magic and mystery. The plot makes sense, the emotions are real, and it is entrancing. The marketing copy on every fantasy book that comes out heralds its author as the new master. This one actually could live up to that title.
Achmed the Snake has to be one of the all time great characters in recent fantasy literature. Flawed, cranky and brutal, he nonetheless rises to greatness in a real and plausible transition through the long trek the three main characters make within the pages of the book. Grunthor is great as well, the comic relief sidekick that also has a very realistic, very serious side. I was reminded of noncommissioned officers in the military when I read about him, the men who follow a leader without question. This rang very true to me, and made the story even more poignant. The relationship between these two men, who often communicate without needing to use words, shows that Haydon is a keen observer of human behavior.
I found the characters of Rhasody and Jo refreshing. Jo is an obnoxious teenager, and anyone who has a child or siblling this age will recognize the behavior at once. While you many not feel fondly for her, she is certainly amusing and a great foil to the other three. Rhapsody represents a great risk for an author to take, a heroine who is strong yet flawed, and who is dealing with powers of a magnitude she can't understand. I found this more realistic that the standard Richard Rahl type, who gets handed a sword and suddenly goes from humble wood guide to war wizard in the blink of an eye. You get to see Rhapsody struggle to learn how to fight, to feel out of place in a land where her skills are not wanted. This is brilliant, risky stuff. People who are only comfortable with cookie cutter heroes and heroines will probably not like this book and these characters.
And while taste differs, and I respect that, I don't get these people who feel the need to tear down a book without any good reason. Ignore anyone who duns this book without giving you any specifics. They haven't read it.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good enough..., August 14, 2000
This review is from: Rhapsody : Child of Blood (Mass Market Paperback)
..But not without its share of flaws. The strongest aspect of this book is its imagination and a certain originality that awakes your curiosity (I, personally, am waiting for the sequel with mounting impatience). The supporting cast of characters are very good. The intriguing characters of Achmed the Snake (who is very cool and my favorite character in the book) and his sidekick, the giant and cannibalistic Grunthor were really the best thing about the book. The humor was great if, yes, occasionally juvenile, but it worked, right? The pacing was surprisingly excellent for a story that spends several centuries travelling in a monotonous Root. :) The heroine herself, of whom all rhapsodize in a very annoying manner, was a different story. By herself, I would probably consider her the perfect fantasy female protagonist. After all, she didn't whine (too much) and she wasn't overly self-centered, but neither was she some arrogant princess with a lot of "spunk" or a toughy-tough warrior woman, the equal of every and any man. No, she was human, but better yet, feminine, while still holding her own, being capable and sympathetic, and not thrown in for romantic interest. So where does she go wrong? When the author keeps sticking down our throat how wonderful Rhapsody is and when she suspends our belief by transforming her late into the story into a really irresistable, completely gorgeous, surreal being. Please, Ms. Haydon, what purpose did that serve? I was deprived of getting an honest reaction from the people (especially men) who encountered her ever afterwards, and couldn't add to my understanding of the character, because no one reacts to HER anymore, just to her stunning beauty. That was a bad move in my mind because her meeting with Ashe, which should have been special, was just made really disappointing and commonplace instead. But if the author actually has a reason for this transformation (it wasn't neccessary in the least; Rhapsody was already naturally beautiful and winning) then I guess it's not a real problem. After all, normally something so irritating as Rhapsody's utter gorgeousness would have been devastating to the story plot and interest, but the book takes it in stride and somehow continues to be worth the reading. So, I'm recommending this book I guess, and pretty strongly. Though I never cried (and usually I do), I did laugh a lot (and in all the right places) and was drawn effectively into Ms. Haydon's world.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A VERY APPEALING DEBUT, January 14, 2001
This review is from: Rhapsody : Child of Blood (Mass Market Paperback)
Thumbs up to E.H.'s debut novel. Not since D. Edding's Belgariad have I stumbled over a group of protagonists that are so endearing, even though their background is less than savoury, to put it mildly (assassin, cannibal and one-time whore). Haydon shows uncanny talent to give her characters texture and life, she clearly loves her "gang" and lets everybody share that feeling. The universe she has created for her protagonists is complex and quite intriguing, with her very own, refreshing twists on common folklore and conventional high-fantasy settings we generally encounter in the dozens out there. Just try the sequence of the world tree and you'll see what I mean. The plot itself is rather conventional, but presented in an entertaining and crisp way - three characters that are trying to flee their past (absolutely charming how literal E.H. took that concept) embark on a journey of discovery in a land that is far, far away, trying to remake their lives. If David Eddings had been the screen writer to "The Man Who Would Be King", this book could have been the result - at least for 2/3 of the movie. Overall, the result provides for a highly enjoyable read; however, there are a few trouble spots that could compromise future instalments if not resolved adequately, e.g.
(1) a certain lack of dramatic tension that makes part of the plot seem a little flat. The trio grows and gains its space, but the evil they will eventually be forced to confront is not very much in evidence. A real pity, because Haydon knows very well how to build to it. House of Remembrance, anybody ? More of that, we really want to root for our heroes here !
(2) raison d'vivre of major characters, or the risk of "sidekick-ization", as I would call it, e.g. what is the purpose of Jo in the entire story ? E.H. has only started yet, so time to make that character gain real life is given, but this type of standardized cannon fodder is what did the pos-Belgariad D. Eddings in.
(3) the interrelationships seem a little banalized - especially among the three protagonists. The way these characters are structured, there should be way more friction and blow-ups among them. Whenever it may get to a real, interesting conflict, everything resolves to a teaparty-like, harmonious understanding. Nice, but ultimately tedious - especially in latter instalments, when the novelty effect of this saga has worn off. That's another thing that is doing Eddings in nowadays.
In any case, these are just some minor details that do not take away very much from a highly captivating book. There are enough narrative threads left to keep future volumes as entertaining as this one.
A very nice debut, indeed (if the rating scale allowed it, I would give it 4 1/2 stars).
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I've read in many years, November 14, 1999
By A Customer
I am not a reader of epic fantasy any more, having been disappointed with the current crop of offerings which all seem to be variations on the same theme. I was given this book by a colleague who urged me to put aside my ambivalence and give it a try. This is the first 5 star rating I've ever given a book, and will probably be the last for some time to come.
As authors go, Elizabeth Haydon is one of the most accomplished I've ever read. She has a true gift for subtlety and humor; her characters talk like individuals and do not all sound the same. Rather than resorting to the cheap techniques many fantasy writers use, like cliff hanger chapter endings and a constant state of emergency to build action, she understands the stops and starts of storytelling. This is an amazing book, and one of the best in any genre out there.
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60 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Incredible Talent, An Amazing Book, May 26, 1999
By A Customer
I was fortunate enough to get to read an advance copy of this book, and have been haunting the web, looking for it ever since. I cannot wait for its release in the actual hardcover.
Finally the fantasy genre has produced an author who is both a born storyteller and a wordsmith, someone with a feel for legend lore and mythos that harks back to Tolkein [the inevitable comparison, this one actually deserved] or Robert Jordan at his best.
Unlike the typical fantasy model of callow young hero up against the forces of darkness, RHAPSODY gives us a totally new construct, a trio of flawed characters whose weaknesses are as appealing as their strengths. Haydon has a true understanding of magic [though I don't think she ever uses the word] and shows it to her readers not only in its traditional form but in every aspect of her world, in the geography, the history, and the people who make it up. She spins a tale that is mysterious and fascinating.
When this book came out for review, some of the most respected authors in the field raved about it, but the most interesting to me was Piers Anthony's comment. He said while most of the strong new voices appearing in fantasy these days are male, Elizabeth Haydon is sure to change that. I agree. She holds her own with Jordan, Goodkind, Martin, and the best of them, and brings something new and magical to the genre.
I cannot recommend this book too highly, for anyone who loves epic fantasy, or anyone who just loves good writing.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A New Slant on the Fantasy Genre, September 18, 2000
By A Customer
Rhapsody is one of the most exciting books by a new author I have read in a long time. I bought it on a whim and found that it really captured my imagination as did the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the first time I read them. It was refreshing to find real characters with weaknesses and bad character traits who made mistakes and paid for them. The only reason I did not give this 5 stars was because I found certain parts longwinded and lacking in any real plotline particularly the bits about establishing the Kingdom of the Bolg. It seemed that the author had put the plot on hold for a couple of hundred pages. I also found the continual references to Rhapsodys beauty a bit tiring. However, generally I found the book inspiring and am truly looking forward to reading the next part of the trilogy.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good., August 25, 2002
By 
I actually thought that this was an excellent beginning to a great trilogy. After I read a book, I read other people's reviews (the bad ones if liked the book, the good ones if I didn't) and I have to say that the negative reviews have many excellent points at first.
1. Rhapsody was too perfect. except for a bit of whining here and there. Upon closer examination though, there were a few flaws. She really wasn't unaware, but unable to face certain aspects of reality. It's both a strength and a weakness in her. In many ways she was like a child who wanted to be someone she wasn't (which could be seen as modesty and humbleness or a blindness to reality). Many of the future books deal with her realization that "life is what it is."
2. Characters were stereotypical. There were some stereotypes, especially to Grunthor, but I challenge anyone to find a single book without a stereotype. He was a big hulking ugly loving protector. His character was still lovable in my opinion.
3. Enough with immortal people. The reason why they were immortal, while explained, was still a little hard for me to grasp, but the actual immortality in my opinion, was handled well. I think that the author realistically guessed what many people's reactions would be if they woke one day and were suddenly immortal.
I could go on, but I wanted to focus a little on what was good. if the storyline was borrowed, I don't know who from. I thought it was very creative. She was also very descriptive. I also liked her technique within the trilogy. There was the overall goal of the characters and there was the goal of that particular series (as well as subgoals, etc. etc.) Some authors may as well have written one giant book, some the only connection that there is a series is that the auhor says so and a few, like Haydon, resolve the book goal, while still moving slowly towards resolving the main goal. I don't know if I'm explaining this well, but it's like there is some resolution within the book while still letting you know that that particular story isn't over. For example, Meridion is finally explained in the very last pages of the last book and shocked me. Yet at the end of the first book, Achmed had consolidated his kingdom, they figured out the "demon" (I'm trying not to give anything away here) and Rhapsody was realizing what she was going to need to come to peace. On the other hand, we know that there is a greater danger still lurking, that there is unresolved business (and history) between Ashe and Rhapsody, and Rhapsody and the stage for the next book is set. All in all, I thought this was an excellent book and while I can see where people wouldn't like, I would also suggest that you look closer at flaws in the book (like the perfectionism) and make sure they really were flaws. I agreed at first, but came to see it as something more. I hoep that didn't sound too pompous and arrogant because we all like different things anyways :>
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing ideas, flawed presentation, September 20, 2000
This review is from: Rhapsody : Child of Blood (Mass Market Paperback)
There are enough original ideas driving this book (the first in a series) to keep you engaged. The presentation, however, drags frequently, and I found that skimming long sections was the only way to keep moving. In particular, there is a journey through the center of the earth section of the book, which is interminable and not particularly interesting. Interest in the ultimate fate of the compelling three lead characters, Gunthor, Achmed and Rhapsody carry the book where the plot drags. The book also opens with two prequel-style chapters, which are never adequately tied up in the first book. The second book, Prophecy, ties these chapters into the story line, but I was annoyed that the first book left these bits dangling, seemingly unconnected to the main plot. Bottom line, this is a promising series, and I am interested to see what becomes of our heroine/heroes, but along the way I fully expect to skim long passages.
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61 of 78 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rhapsody, November 23, 2000
This review is from: Rhapsody : Child of Blood (Mass Market Paperback)
My biggest problem with this tale is that I simply couldn't figure out the book's intended target audience. The story is too unsophisticated for adults and is too full of sexual references for children. It might have made a fine "young adult" novel if not for the frequent sexual content.
The first chapter reads like some sappy "true confession" romance magazine and involves a sex scene between a 13 year old girl and a 14 year old boy, which occurs not long after they first meet. There seemed to be no reason for the children to have had sex. Why not have them share a first kiss instead? Or, if the sex serves some purpose, why not make them older?
The heroine of the story, Rhapsody, is just too good to be true. She begins the book as the most beautiful woman living, but a few chapters later, she transforms herself into a goddess-like being who is the most beautiful woman who has ever graced the planet. She is good and kind to all she meets, talented at everything she attempts, and humble too. Every single man she meets, from the youthful to the elderly priest, from friend to enemy, is filled with lust at the sight of her. A child might have accepted this description and been able to view Rhapsody with admiration, but an adult reader is quickly going to be grinding teeth over Rhapsody's perfection. It is nearly impossible to identify with her, or to want her to succeed.
The story is full of holes and leaps of logic that, again, will leave an adult frowning. For instance, during her transformation into the goddess-like being, Rhapsody also regains her virginity. How this is done is never fully explained, but let's look at it logically. Rhapsody and her lovers apparently still have their sexual memories, so if she knows that she's had sex, how can she possibly be a virgin? And as any doctor will tell you, there is no physical proof of virginity.
Prior to the start of the novel, Rhapsody worked as a prostitute. Her previous occupation seems to make no sense, given what else we learn about the character. Since the author makes Rhapsody talented at virtually every skill there is, why would she choose such a profession?
Rhapsody is miserable throughout the entire story because she's been dragged forward in time and desperately misses her family, especially her mother. Yet Rhapsody admits that she ran away from home as a young girl. She was apparently gone from home for years, but she made no effort to write to her family or to travel to see them. During a brief stay, Rhapsody "adopts" some children that she meets and during the rest of story, she worries about them, she writes to them, and she stops to buy them gifts. If Rhapsody is such a caring person, why didn't she show the same concern for those she claims she loved most of all?
Rhapsody's major talent in the book is her ability at music and singing. She is apparently able to change the very nature of reality with the power of her voice, as is shown when she sees an abusive father and his son and is able to completely change their relationship. If she is this talented, why doesn't Rhapsody use this incredible power to to fix, for example, the murder/war situation that occurs with Achmed's people? And finally, if she is so lonesome for home, why doesn't she sing her way back in time?
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It Just Didn't Flow......Like Frozen Water In A Creek, October 21, 2000
By 
Robert "RNel" (Santa Rosa, US, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Rhapsody : Child of Blood (Mass Market Paperback)
I bought "Rhapsody" while searching through Amazon looking for the next Robert Jordan Book. It's high review rating enticed me into buying it. I expected greatness! What I received didn't knock me over like I hoped it would.
My problem with the book was that, even though it had some nice ideas for plot, it didn't go about hitting them very well. Many plot and character points seemed to fall into the lap of the main characters. (If you aren't at least half of the way through the book this is a "Spoiler") Such as Grunthor gaining his land lore by just randomly deciding to dig from the center of the earth, then getting so into it that he becomes part of the earth. That just seems a bit too easy for me. Also Rhapsody finding her powerful sword Daystar Clarion just sort of sticking out of the ceiling as she walks by. It is as if Haydon has an agenda of things to fill her prophecy so just kind of throws things in. I want to see these great and powerful things take more to achieve. There are enough examples of this sort of thing that I can't just forget about it and go on. Since I had such expectations for this book I tried very hard to let myself forget some of the little things (like Grunthor carrying a poleax, a sword with a five foot blade, a long bow, and many other weapons around with no problem.... logistically it just doesn't work for me) but whenever I felt myself getting into the characters and story, I would run into a long winded section about killing worms and walking in a root forever.
I like Mrs. Haydons ideas, and her intricate world, and her humor or at least attempt at humor. Even "trying" to be funny in a fantasy novel is a pleasant novelty. Her plot just needs to be connected on a string and not seem like a collection of short stories. I always rate books by whether or not I can get into them during some boring college class. I don't even take Rhapsody to school anymore. To conclude: If you have finished all your Tolkien, Jordan, and Eddings you might want to borrow a copy of Rhapsody from a close friend.
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Rhapsody : Child of Blood
Rhapsody : Child of Blood by Elizabeth Haydon (Mass Market Paperback - June 15, 2000)
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