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Destiny: Child of the Sky    by Elizabeth Haydon order for
by Elizabeth Haydon
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2002 (2001)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Destiny: Child of the Sky is the third and final entry in a trilogy. It was preceded by Rhapsody: Child of Blood and Prophecy: Child of Earth. The author has included some of the traditional elements expected of high fantasy since its mainstream advent with J. R. R. Tolkien. There is the multiracial fellowship that comes together (early in the series in this case) to act against ultimate evil, the demon F'dor. The main characters indulge at times in an amusing banter along the lines of the Eddings' hugely successful Belgariad. There are potent devices - magical swords and a summoning horn - to be found and used in the epic struggle, and tragic losses to be faced along the way.

Haydon weaves all this together into a rich tapestry, with musical threads running through it, but she adds her own unique, creative fantasy elements. There is the meddling and movement through time; the forging of her Three of prophecy in the fires of the Earth; its Sleeping Children; characters with a draconic heritage; deliberate use of amnesia; and a demonic supervillain who can control others with a touch, switch between hosts and steal souls. At the core of her story is a strong and sentimental romance between soulmates - prone, of course, to the usual mistrust, misunderstanding and misadventure. There's a touch of Cinderella too, with love between a peasant and a prince.

In this third volume, Rhapsody and Achmed are on quest to locate all the children of the Rakshas, and extract the blood of the F'dor, so that they can track down its host. Of course, Achmed the assassin would prefer simple slaughter and Rhapsody is intent on saving souls, leading to their usual arguments. Ashe spends a great deal of the story attempting to restore the memories that he took from Rhapsody in order to carry out a sly scheme of his father Llauron's, while she succeeds in avoiding him until the climactic Cymrian Summoning, when some of her darker foretellings come to life.

Rhapsody is a heroine full of doubts. Her self-esteem is low and she doesn't understand what others see in her. She often seems too good to be true, but fantasy needs its protagonists to be larger than life. When Achmed reassures her about her role he says 'When your own race decrees "Ryle hira," Life is what it is, you choose instead to speak a truth that says that our individual lives mean something ... To see the world as it is surely leads to madness. Better to see the world you wish to see.' Then they both work hard to make the world fit their personal visions for it.

This is a remarkable and potent trilogy (and thanks to the author for keeping the tale to three volumes!) with a depth of magic, characters to whom we can relate, high tragedy and low comedy, and waves of suspense and surprises that follow upon each other from the Great Summoning to the very last page. The series is a must read for all fantasy lovers, and I can't wait to visit the worlds that its author builds next.

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