Acclaimed author Elizabeth Haydon returns with a heartbreaking tale of love and valor in The Hollow Queen, the eighth installment of her USA Today bestselling Symphony of Ages series that began with Rhapsody.
Beset on all sides by the forces of the merchant emperor Talquist, the Cymrian Alliance finds itself in desperate straits. Rhapsody herself has joined the battle, wielding the Daystar Clarion, leaving her True Name in hiding with her infant son. Ashe tries to enlist the aid of the Sea Mages. Within their Citadel of Scholarship lies the White Ivory tower, a spire that could hold the key to unraveling the full extent of Talquist's machinations. Achmed journeys to the reportedly unassailable palace of Jierna Tal, to kill emperor Talquist—all the while knowing that even if he succeeds, it may not be enough to stop the momentum of the war.
As they struggle to untangle the web of Talquist's treachery, the leaders of the Cymrian alliance are met with obstacles at every turn. Rhapsody soon realizes that the end of this war will come at an unimaginable price: the lives of those she holds dearest.
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Haydon's eighth Symphony of Ages romantic fantasy (after The Merchant Emperor) is a sprawling epic of demon vaults, dragons, and living statues. The story gets unwieldy but is redeemed by gripping relationships. Wartime demands have taken their toll on the marriage of the Cymerian leaders, Rhapsody and Ashe. Rhapsody, who is literally missing a piece of her soul, fights without truly knowing what she is fighting for, and risks losing not only herself but her family. As Rhapsody and Ashe confront the psychological ramifications of war, their passion and grief are heartrending. However, the vast array of characters dilutes the story's movement, and their conflicts with one-dimensional villains come to all-too-convenient resolutions. The excellent prose and close attention to the emotional states of beloved characters will please longtime fans, but new readers may wonder what the fuss is about.