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Literature / Symphony of Ages

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Symphony of Ages is a series of fantasy novels by Elizabeth Haydon. It blends Heroic Fantasy with Romance Novel tropes to produce an effect that you likely think is the most awesome thing ever, or is absolutely ridiculous.

Rhapsody (formerly known as Emily, who changed her name after running away from home as a child) is a former prostitute living in Elizabeth Haydon's Constructed World of Serendair. Because of her popularity during her sordid career, she attracted the attention of a minor warlord named Michael, who is the biggest pervert ever and has a strange fixation with her. She is trying to start a new life for herself when Michael shows up intending to kidnap and do really, really bad things to her. She escapes and ends up haphazardly under the protection of two traveling warriors, Achmed and Grunthor. Though unmoved by her story, Achmed discerns that Rhapsody controls a rare and powerful magic and brings her along, not as an ally but an asset. The duo do not tell her, however, that they are former assassins fleeing from a demon through the center of the planet. that intended to use Achmed to bring about the end of the world.

It is eventually revealed that when Rhapsody/Emily was a child, she had a curious run in with a guy who called himself Sam. She did not know where he came from, but it was Love at First Sight, or so she thought. They had sex (Their First Time) and then he disappeared. She was naturally quite upset, but all was not as it seemed: Sam was actually Gwydion, a prince from the future who had mysteriously been pushed backwards into Emily's era without knowing why. When Achmed, Grunthor, and Rhapsody finally make it out from Beneath the Earth and arrive on the far end of the world, he is there—although neither of them recognize each other, since he *literally* had a part of his soul torn out in the interim.

As the title suggests, music is a constant theme in Symphony of Ages. The metaphysics of Serendair are mostly explained in musical terms, and Rhapsody frequently employs Magic Music during her adventures.

Also, several characters have Elemental Powers that lend themselves well to Power Perversion Potential. Whereas most authors would shy away from this fact or not even notice, Hayden exploits them to their fullest potential.

This series provides examples of:

  • A God Am I: Non-villianous example. Achmed convinces the Firbolg that he is a god in order to unite them into a great nation.
  • After the End: Merydion's future.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The F'dor, beings of elemental fire that want to burn the world. The first generation consciously chose to become evil while the second generation, born after this choice, were evil by default.
  • Apocalypse How: Planetary Extinction. In Merydion's future the F'dor have reduced the planet to molten slag.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The magical language of the Cymrians is really just Welsh.
  • Beast of the Apocalypse: The Sleeping Child, a wyrm buried deep beneath the surface whose body accounts for one sixth of the planet's mass. The F'dor are responsible for its existence and plan to use the creature's true name to wake it, as its rise will destroy the world.
  • Because Destiny Says So: The God of Time wants Rhapsody and Gwydion to hook up. This is Serious Business! More to the point, it's their son who wants them to hook up, and goes to great lengths to make their partnership a good one.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: Achmed to Rhapsody.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most prominently, Achmed and Ashe.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: If the Wyrm at the center of the world wakes up, this is what will happen.
  • Fantasy Contraception:
    • Ashe can use his water powers to hold back his own semen.
    • He is part dragon, and all dragons can do that. Check book 4 or 5, when they finally decide to get going on the children. Still an example, though.
    • In Book 2 or 3 Ashe sayd that all first generation Cymrians can control their fertility (don't want kids means no kids).
  • Framing Device: The efforts of Merydion in an apocalyptic future as he attempts to stop the destruction of the world and unite Gwydion and Rhapsody.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: The cwellan, a sort of crossbow-like-thing invented by Achmed which fires razor-edged discs at a distance of up to two miles.
    • Both Rhapsody and Ashe's sword qualify.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Rhapsody is just one example as a half Liran (that settings version of an elf) and half Cymrian (essentially a race of humans that would migrate to the other side of the world). She's far from rare, in this setting it's said that hybrids are more common than pure-strain species.
  • Language of Truth: Rhapsody has the impression that being a Truthspeaker means she's not allowed to tell lies, but it turns out that her magic turns whatever she says into truth- she actually names Achmed (who was originally named The Brother) and accidentally freed him from being bound by his name as a result.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Rhapsody and Achmed and Rhapsody and Grunthor. Though the former might be debatable.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: The Cymrians live shorter lives with each generation, starting with immortality at generation one. This presumably causes true mayfly romances, but the most visible case is Tristan Steward and his consort Prudence. While they grew up at about the same rate, she starts showing her age and he remains youthful. A much more complicated version arises among Rhapsody, Ashe, and Achmed. Rhapsody, a first-generation Cymrian and lirin, will live forever. So will Achmed. Ashe, however, is part dragon and a third generation Cymrian, granting him a lifetime that will probably last a few thousand years more before he either dies or reincarnates as a full dragon (somehow presumed to end their romance, although other dragons have loved humans before). Achmed loves Rhapsody, or at least believes she is the only possible suitable mate for him, but is content to wait millennia for Ashe's eventual removal.
  • Named Weapon: Grunthor carries around an entire armory's worth of weapons and has given names to all of them, though none of them seem to have any special qualities. Rhapsody herself eventually finds a magical sword, Daystar Clarion.
  • Non-Human Humanoid Hybrid: It's not just humans who have children via other species. For example, Achmed who's half Firbolg and half Dhracian while Grunthor is a Firbolg and Bengard mix.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The second and third book run on this.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The Framing Device for the original trilogy takes place in an alternate timeline where the F'dor was successful and they have transformed the world into a lifeless, molten ruin. Merydion is trying to prevent that from occurring.
  • Stable Time Loop: The entire story is brought about through the time-manipulating machinations of Merydion, which ultimately brought Emily/Rhapsody and Gwydion together; Merydion is the child of this union, meaning he would never have been born if not for the ways he personally altered history.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Gwydion and Rhapsody in the original timeline. Merydion manipulated history specifically so they could avert this trope.
  • Power Perversion Potential:
    • Played with. Gwydion has control over water. 70% of the human body is made of water. He knows this. And there's the time when Rhapsody was taking a bath and he got frisky... Subverted in that Rhapsody did not enjoy it and calls him out for it.
    • Also, F'dor's fire magic. Yes, ma'am, you did just get screwed by the fireplace.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Rhapsody and Ashe have this relationship for the first two novels. It breaks down in the final novel, with time coming full circle, and Gwydion unintentionally repeats the mistakes of his ancestors, dealing Rhapsody a "Grievous Blow."
  • Their First Time: Turns out to be just like Idealized Sex.
  • Tsundere: Rhapsody shows signs of this, especially in regards to Ashe.
  • World Tree: Many of them, and their roots are all intertwined.
  • Wound That Will Not Heal: Ashe's wound from when the F'dor attacked, until later in the first trilogy.