This book starts off in an interesting way. The reader is not introduced to the main characters but instead of a character that, while his parts in the book are small his impact is huge. Meridion starts things off by manipulating the time lines and putting certain events into place that otherwise would never have happened. That in itself is interesting enough and I was intrigued to find out why it was he was mixing past with present to affect the future. Was it for his own means or something else?
Once those particular events are taken care of the main characters are introduced. I did like Rhapsody, she was an interesting character and her past, at least some of it, was revealed initially which helped to explain how she became a Singer and hinted on something hidden within her past. There were times when I found her character a bit annoying, but if it hadn’t been for that she might have been that perfect character that no one likes. Achmed was an alright character, I neither liked nor hated him but he did add an interesting mix into the story and was an important part of the group that Rhapsody ended up traveling with. Ashe, who was introduced much later in the book, is an alright character, we aren’t told too much about him to start with but his part in the story is only just beginning even as the book is coming to an end.
My favorite character by far was Grunthor. Even when he was first introduced I had an almost instant like of him. He’s a big guy and while his size and strength came in handy throughout the story he could also be caring an gentle, something that he showed Rhapsody several time throughout their travels. It also amused me whenever he called Rhapsody ‘Duchess’.
The plot was an interesting one. It is often hard for books, or a book for that matter, to occur over a long timeline as too many random jumps can be confusing an annoying. However the way the time passed in this book was interesting and for the most part had a good flow to it. The part I didn’t like was when Rhapsody, Achmed and Grunthor were traveling through the root of the tree. That part, while necessary to move things along and place the characters in the right time and place, was agonizingly long and boring as hell. I didn’t expect much to happen in these chapters, after all how much can happen while traveling underground along a tree root? But even so it seemed to persist chapter after chapter and for a short time I almost hoped they wouldn’t find their way out simply so they could die and the story could move on. It was in fact this section of the book that caused me to give the book a four star rating over the five I might have given it otherwise.
Though the book spanned a large time frame, for the most part the flow of the story was good and so the shifts felt normal. The exception being the time they were traveling along the root. I could have done without that part being so long and boring. I know it was a somewhat important part to the story as a whole but it really did kill the book for me and that along forced me to give it four stars instead of five.
I will admit that I had mostly figured out Rhapsody’s past by the time it was revealed near the end of the book but I still found it interesting nonetheless and there were a few subtle things that I hadn’t realized up until that point. Ashe’s past, while somewhat revealed still has a number of mysteries around it and I will be interesting to see how that affects the story as it continues throughout the other books.
Overall I enjoyed this book and was glad I finally picked it up after considering reading it for a number of years. I do look forward to checking out the rest of the series and hopefully there are not large lulls in the story like what happened in this book. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy fantasy but caution them that at times it will be slow.