Science fiction and fantasy


by Elizabeth Haydon


Prophecy takes up the story of The Three, the characters we first met in Rhapsody. Over a thousand years out of their time and on the other side of the world, our heroes find themselves in a chaotic place. Unexplained border incursions and random attacks are a fact of life in these lands. A civilisation has risen and fallen in their absence, and there are signs that the demon F'dor are still at large.

In the midst of all this danger Rhapsody, Grunthor and Achmed have no-one to trust but each other. Their journey has given them unique powers, but also a common need for secrecy. In Prophecy there is a sense of intense paranoia, since the demon could take on any face, and could possess almost anyone.

Most suspect of all is Ashe, a man who hides his face behind a cloak of mist. His reasons for doing this are as clouded as the mist that surrounds him. He is reluctant to discuss the past or to pass on any details about himself. About the only thing that is clear is his interest in Rhapsody, although he is hardly alone in feeling that way. The rivalry between Achmed and Ashe is intense, and this gives an edge to the developing love story.

In order to protect her adopted people, the Firbolg, from the wrath of a dragon, Rhapsody has to make a journey. Unfortunately the only person who can guide her is Ashe, a man who she has never seen and doesn't trust. Haydon builds up an intricate puzzle around him, so that even when we sometimes get to see events through his eyes it's not clear just who, or what, he really is for most of the novel.

"Your children and wife
will be put to the knife
When we've sated our carnal desire,
Though long after you're cold
They may live to grow old
Because we don't easily tire."

- Part of a Firbolg marching song
As the title implies, this book is dominated by prophecies, none of which make much sense to begin with. The history of Haydon's world is alive, and it affects all of the characters. Trying to uncover the mysteries of the past takes up a lot of their time. Unfortunately this tends to result in a lot of scenes in which characters are retelling stories to each other, and this does slow the pace in places. There are also quite a few heart-to-heart moments towards the end, which may be a touch too saccharine for some tastes.

I would have liked to have read more about Achmed in Prophecy, since his wry, tortured character is more engaging than the comparatively insipid Ashe, or Rhapsody herself.

Nevertheless, Prophecy is still a very good novel that goes some way towards fulfilling the promise shown in Rhapsody. The plotting is complex, so if you like stories that make you think you won't be disappointed. There's a good mixture of action and suspense, as well as some lusty bedroom scenes. The characters continue to grow and develop throughout, and we see new facets emerge as they overcome each new hurdle. Prophecy is sometimes funny, often moving, and on the whole a well-rounded and absorbing sequel to Rhapsody.

Book Details

Year of release: 2001

Categories: Books

If you like this, try:

Magician's Gambit by David Eddings
Garion and company must face a powerful and hostile magician. The third episode in The Belgariad.

Myrren's Gift by Fiona McIntosh
The first novel in the Quickening series finds a young general given a strange gift by a woman condemned for witchcraft.

The Novice cover
The Novice by Trudi Canavan
The second book in the Black Magician Trilogy.

4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
Read more about Elizabeth Haydon