Thursday, April 07, 2005

[Book Review] Requiem for the Sun by Elizabeth Haydon

Banking on her established series, The Rhapsody Trilogy, Haydon came out with a bunch of sequels obviously aimed at getting more mileage out of a story that ended with the third book of the trilogy. Requiem for the Sun is the first book in the series, a stand-alone novel (well, you’d need to read the original trilogy to appreciate it but other than that, no cliffhanger endings) that builds on the existing setting and characters Haydon has woven.

While Haydon’s plot and writing style leaves much to be improved upon, Requiem for the Sun succeeds as a sequel in several ways. For one thing, it stands on itself, and acts more of a supplement to the original trilogy. Most writers would usually craft a prequel to build on a popular work. Haydon gambles with a sequel, and it’s a sequel that doesn’t disrupt the ending for the trilogy, yet manages to be intriguing nonetheless. The setting is also fleshed out more, and historic characters from the past and present show up to give this novel an interesting edge. Lastly, Haydon manages to be consistent with what made her earlier work popular.

Not that the book doesn’t have any weaknesses. Nobody likes a sequel where the challenges aren’t up to par with the characters and in this book, the stakes are raised. As usual, there’s the more powerful villain, a more nefarious nemesis, and a potentially bigger threat endangering the land. Which I think might appear boring or self-defeating at this point in time, especially after the epic backdrop of the trilogy. Also to me, some new characters in the novel should have remained buried in the past rather than being brought up again to conveniently assist and antagonize the characters. The novel is also blatantly setting up the readers for the next sequel, Elegy for a Lost Star. Lastly, I found that the book resolved issues too quickly. Five hundred pages of conflict and build up all neatly ended in the last hundred. Not to mention that the protagonists are rescued by external forces.

There’s nothing really new to mention about Haydon, which is probably both a good thing and a bad thing. You can’t really ruin an experience when you know what you’re going to expect. But similarly, well, the book is only as good as your expectations for it. If you bought her earlier work, then by all means get this one if you enjoyed them. If not, skip it, and your money is better invested elsewhere. The original trilogy stands well on its own, and you don’t really need to commit to the sequels just to satiate your desires. But if you’re still looking for more of Haydon’s writing, well, there’s always this book and the next.

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