Just to clarify: the title of this post is the first book in a trilogy. I linked to a boxed set for the trilogy. I've only read the first two books in the trilogy.
I'm not really sure whether I have any interest in reading further: the bookstore that is actually near my house doesn't have the third book by itself and my overall impression of the two preceding novels is that they are really, incredibly . . . girly.
You heard me: girly.
Now I appreciate that this is not actually a bad quality if you are, in fact, a girl. And Elizabeth Haydon appears to be a pretty good writer in a more general sense: the books are interesting and once I started I read them all the way through without getting bored or fed up. But CRIMINY woman your CHARACTERS ARE SO CLICHED. Could your heroine be any more like the stereotypical good girl from any given fairy tale? Can we stop with the loving children and forest animals thing? Please?
Ms. Haydon left me with a truly mixed perception of her novels on pretty much all levels. Okay, we have the stereotypical characters. But she appears to realize this fact and does some interesting things to correct it, like having other characters complain that the heroine is acting in a stereotypically "female" manner. It's almost like she wrote the book, realized it was terribly hacky, and then went back and fixed all the worst moments . . . almost, in fact, like a case study in what happens when a Naturalist writes using archetypical characters. I don't quite know how to describe it, because I don't think I've encountered quite this same phenomenon before.
The plot is certainly surreal enough on its own. The first novel starts out with an assassin and a giant that is also a military sergeant (there is never any explanation given for why these two are hanging around together, it's just one of those weird fantasy crossover things) escaping from the Evil Force of Doom (something like that). They meet: a bard. She's an ex-prostitute on the run from an obsessed client, btw. It's like Pick Your Former Profession Out of a Hat characterization or something. So, due to a fundamentally bizarre coincidence, the assassin and giant duo kidnap said cute bardic female ex prostitute.
They end up climbing down the roots of the World Tree for LITERALLY CENTURIES and emerging in a new land, which is good because they old land they left has been destroyed while they were doing their Journey to the Center of the Earth thing. How does this make any sense?! I think it Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time. They find a Really Cool Magic Bard Sword. Oh, and by the way it's really nice that here they are in the Future now because it turns out the reason that our bard nee prostitute Rhapsody (the title character of the first book, go figure), was actually in love with this guy that travelled back in time from the New Land and just incidentally claimed her virtue and then vanished, leaving her bereft. Hence why she descended into a life of sin.
Help me. I tell you, the really surprising thing about these books is the fact that they're actually readable.
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