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Symphony of Ages #6

The Assassin King

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The Assassin King opens at winter's end with the arrival by sea of a mysterious hunter, a man of ancient race and purpose, who endlessly chants the names of the pantheon of demons that are his intended victims, as well as one other: Ysk, the original name of the Brother, now known as Achmed, the Assassin King of Ylorc.
At the same moment of this portentous arrival, two gatherings of great import are taking place. The first is a convocation of dragons, who gather in a primeval forest glade--the site of the horrific ending of Llauron, one of the last of their kind. They mourn not only his irrevocable death, but the loss of the lore and control over the Earth itself that it represents. The ancient wyrms are terrified for what will come as a result of this loss.

The second gathering is a council of war held in the depths of the keep of Haguefort: Ashe and Rhapsody, rulers of the alliance that protects the Middle Continent; Gwydion, the new Duke of Navarne; Anborn, the Lord Marshall; Achmed, the King of Ylorc, and Grunthor, his Sergeant-Major. Each brings news that form the pieces of a great puzzle. And as each piece is added it becomes quite clear: War is coming, the likes of which the world has never known.

Cataclysm, both large and small, await in this sixth volume of the USA Today bestselling fantasy series, The Symphony of Ages. A twisting, fast-moving tale, The Assassin King promises endless surprises--most of which lead to pain.

384 pages, Hardcover

First published December 26, 2006

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About the author

Elizabeth Haydon

45 books971 followers
Elizabeth Haydon (* 1965 in Michigan) is a fantasy author, whose 1999 debut, Rhapsody: Child of Blood, garnered comparisons with Goodkind, Jordan, and even Tolkien. She has written two fantasy series set within the same universe, The fantasy/romance/whodunit fusion called The Symphony of Ages and the young adult series The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme.

An herbalist, harpist, and madrigal singer, Elizabeth Haydon also enjoys anthropology and folklore. She lives on the East Coast of the United States.

For more information, please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabet...

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5 stars
1,993 (39%)
4 stars
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3 stars
981 (19%)
2 stars
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1 star
53 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 78 reviews
Profile Image for Laura.
316 reviews14 followers
May 30, 2009
As much as I enjoyed the first books in this series, I suspect it may be time for Haydon to move on. I was actually really looking forward to The Assassin King, because Achmed is hands-down my favorite character in the series, and I thought it would center on him... but rather, this book jumped around so much it's hard to say what it was about, exactly. We hardly spend more than a few pages with each main character, and the bulk of the first half of the book is dedicated to reintroducing us to the characters -- entirely unnecessary for those who have read previous volumes -- and the second mostly showed how enemies are closing in, plans are being put in motion, etc. The result was that this felt much more like the beginning of a longer book than a stand-alone novel -- indeed, I can't even think of a single plot point that came to a conclusion. The result is that I imagine Haydon, under pressure to finish the volume, gave her publisher what she had so far and it was published as-is.
Profile Image for Gaijinmama.
183 reviews74 followers
January 8, 2011
I was really excited about this latest installment in Haydon's Symphony of Ages series. The title character (Achmed) is nasty, violent, sarcastic, ugly as sin, and just about everybody's favorite. Personally, I adore him. He is so snarky, he makes Hugh Laurie's Dr. House seem like such a sweet guy! We do get to know him better as information about his birth, and about the Dhracian people, is filled in. He and his Seargeant Major, Grunthor, get in quite a few hilarious one-liners and some decent action scenes.
However, more than the previous books, this one felt incomplete to me. It's clearly meant to pave the way for the next book. Now, I and other die-hard fans will read the next book no matter what., and without giving it away, I'll just mention the author indicates at the end that another favorite character is going to be the star of the next episode.
Hint...he is very large and his name rhymes with..um.....Funthor.
I will certainly keep reading, re-reading and recommending this series. Haydon will remain one of my favorite writers. I'm just saying, this one doesn't quite grab me as strongly as the prervious books did.
Profile Image for Nat Howler.
15 reviews2 followers
March 16, 2012
More often than not, an author's series grows tired and old, and the quality of the story deteriorates as the theme is simply overdone. This has not happened with Elizabeth Haydon's books. Her storyline is as rich in this book as it was in the first, the character development just as good, and it leaves you wanting more. I'm interested to see how the living stone man is defeated by Grunthor.
Profile Image for Erinn.
345 reviews14 followers
November 20, 2007
I was a little disappointed with this one. It's clear that author is going somewhere with the story, this is just a little bit in the middle and didn't do much on it's own.
48 reviews
July 25, 2009
It was extremely hard to read this book. Unlike the other books of the series which took me three days to read, it has been three weeks and I still have not finished. Trust me I have tried to finish, but when a book just is not good other things take priority. There is too just much reference to the previous books which have just become tiring.

Come on Haydon how many times do you want to tell us about the travel beneath the earth!!! Maybe I haven't finished because I skipped to the end and found out that the series was not concluded.
However the series have been going downhill since the forth and fifth cook but they were still relatively good.

The Assassin King on the other hand is a major dissapointment. Compared to the first three(rhapsody, prophecy and destiny) this book is equivalent to one of those mills and blooms romance novel teenage girls real. Its utter shit.
Profile Image for Joshua.
101 reviews4 followers
May 26, 2009
A HUGE disappointment. First, in the sixth book of a series, most of your readers have read the previous five. Therefore, the need to expound on every minute detail from the previous books just becomes tiresome, especially when you are still doing it in the last third of the book. Needless to say I did a lot of skimming just to get done.

Second, it became obvious after finishing half of the book that she wasn't wrapping anything up. The third book in the second installment, and nothing is resolved? WHAT? I'm so frustrated with all the rambling and new characters that I don't even want to read anything new she puts out.
Profile Image for Shell Bailey.
40 reviews2 followers
September 21, 2007
I absolutely loved her first trilogy (Rhapsody especially; prophecy & destiny just follow behind.) The rest of the books so far haven't lived up to her usual standards- Elegy for the Lost Star & Requiem for the Sun, I think. But this one finally picks up where she left off in the first trilogy. It's finally back to character development, it's fast-paced, everything we know and love. Usually I won't but so much stock in the familiar, but here, it is definitely a good thing. It makes me have hope for the next in the series, although I do wonder how long she will continue to write it...?
Profile Image for Jessica.
211 reviews26 followers
April 29, 2009
WTF? I thought this was supposed to be the last book in the series! I enjoyed the first three so much, the fourth and fifth were distinctly less appealing, and the sixth was a bit of an improvement. But I was looking forward to finishing the series and pretending that the series ended at the end of Destiny, but noooooo. I've got to wait for at least one more book (I'm hoping only one more, with the current obsession with sevens) to find out what finally happens with The Three. I don't even care about anyone else, just The Three.

Buggerit, this is annoying.
Profile Image for Douglas.
1 review
April 25, 2012
I really want to think of it this way: Rhapsody/Prophecy/Destiny; trilogy. Done. Fantastic. Requiem/Elegy; stand alone books. Really a good story with more world-building, explanations of the greater forces of the universe and how they manipulate the characters. And finally, I really want to think of The Assassin King as the start of a new trilogy; it really seemed like it was, didn't it? That's not just me, right? A rehashing of the previous story, dark forces closing in, and then... nothing. On to the next... book... there's no next book. Please let there be a next book.
Profile Image for Kit.
46 reviews
February 5, 2012
I read the first three in quick succession and enjoyed them (well, I enjoyed Achmed and the worldbuilding). Then I kept reading because I was all, oh boy, more of my favorite characters! But Requiem was meh, Elegy was even more meh, and this...I expected from the title that it would be an entire book filled with Achmed, my favorite character, doing awesome things!
Instead it was basically a giant book of filler. whaaaat?
Profile Image for Jenny.
146 reviews7 followers
March 28, 2012
Achmed was my favorite character and I was disappointed when this book didn't focus on him hardly at all...even though he's obviously the purpose behind the title. He was also the reason I kept reading this series...however, after being let down once again I stopped reading this series after this book.
Profile Image for Benedict.
127 reviews5 followers
October 22, 2013
It felt like Haydon hit her stride again with this book. The characters and world-building were working together again, and it felt like a much stronger offering after books 4 and 5. This seemed more in line with everything good about the original trilogy, and the setup it leaves for the next (final?) novel is compelling and interesting. I'm glad I've stuck with the series.
Profile Image for Hilary.
2,005 reviews49 followers
February 18, 2017
A little darker than the earlier books, and with more a sense of impending doom. Events take priority over characters, so I missed the conversational play, but it's definitely setting up something bigger.
Profile Image for Jason Murray.
86 reviews
September 10, 2017
I wish I could rate it lower. boring, slow to develop, uninteresting characters, completely unengaging. I found myself reading a page, having no idea what I read and having to go back and read it again because it is so unmemorable. didn't bother to finish it, which is a rarity for me...
Profile Image for Audra.
394 reviews44 followers
June 8, 2011
This set the scene for the next one. It explained more of the history behind the characters and races which I found interesting. It also gave some updates on other characters.
Profile Image for Marsha Valance.
3,736 reviews52 followers
May 6, 2020
Haydon begins this 6th volume of her Symphony of the Ages with the arrival on the western shore of the Middle Continent of a Dhracian demon hunter, a windrider who lists among his intended victims Achmed, the Assassin King of Ylorc; the funeral of the dragon Llauron, murdered by his insane mother Anwyn; and a strategy meeting at which the three elemental sword bearers, Ashe, his wife Rhapsody, and their godson, Gwydion Navarne, plan the defense of the Middle Continent against an invasion by Talquist, Regent of Sorbold. Aided by demons, the Regent is determined to achieve immortality by any means possible, and a prophecy has convinced him he will achieve it through control of Ashe and Rhapsody's infant son. As the council disperses, we follow Rhapsody and the baby's journey with Achmed and Sgt. Gunthor to Ylorc, where they will harness the power of the Great Wheel. Gwydion's sister Melisande is sent to Ashe's great-grandmother Elynsynos for help, while Ashe, Gwydion and General Anborn prepare to defend the Alliance. The narrative viewpoint jumps from character to character on both sides, and without a familiarity with the preceding five volumes, the reader will be hopelessly lost. Haydon seems to have fallen victim to the Robert Jordan syndrome, spinning her fantasy saga out and out and ... . I cannot recommend this fast-moving but choppy title.

Profile Image for Jo.
42 reviews3 followers
August 29, 2017
I have a lot of negative things to say, but I don't have energy to write a long review, so I'll leave it at this.

I hate Ash. He is a whiney, pathetic freak who can't be away from his wife for any amount of time without breaking down into a useless lump, and he can't use his inner dragon as an excuse.

Rhapsody is almost as annoying.

Together they make the most codependent, ridiculous, boring married couple in literature. They do nothing but go on about how much they love each other in person and weep over the other's absence when separated.

This book was practically pointless, and it was only just barely salvaged by my love for Achmed, because he is overshadowed by incessant whining, rehashing of things I already know, and pointless building up for war.

Also, the audiobook was painfully bad. Kevin T Collins is one of the worst narrators I've listened to, and I'm extremely picky about audiobook narrators. I finished this book at 2.1x the speed just to get it over with, because I didn't have time to sit down and read it. But I started reading this series way back in high school, and I am determined to finish it. I just don't think I can survive another audiobook.
Profile Image for Anita.
316 reviews2 followers
January 13, 2021
Der sechste Band der Rhapsody-Saga hat mich, ehrlich gesagt, ziemlich enttäuscht. Ich wusste zwar, dass die Reihe im englischen noch weiter geht, hatte aber gehofft, dass Band 6 auch wieder eine Art Abschluss bildet wie Band 3. Aber das kommt wohl erst in einem der nächsten Bände, die ich aber wahrscheinlich eher nicht mehr lesen werde. Die Reihe hat nach Band 3 ziemlich abgebaut und Band 6 fand ich jetzt von den Gegenspielern und den Gefahren, denen sich die Helden gegenüber gesehen haben, sehr konstruiert. Wenn Helden und ihre Gegenspieler wirklich immer ganz zufällig auf einem ganzen Kontinent der zur Verfügung steht, genau zum richtigen Zeitpunkt irgendwo eintreffen oder aufeinander treffen, übersteigt das nach einer gewissen Zeit doch meine Geduld mit dem Autor.
Profile Image for Data.
1,088 reviews
April 29, 2018
I have enjoyed this series, but I am feeling less and less connected with these characters. If all your characters are immortal, can the series never end?
Most distressing to me is when common sense and imagination get crossed up into some just not believable. I could go with everything but
Yeah, I know my spoiler spoils grammar, but these reviews are more notes for me than anything else, so deal with it.
Profile Image for Cynthia.
767 reviews10 followers
February 15, 2020
The dragons meet to mourn the loss of Llauron and bury his remains.
Ashe and Rhapsody, rulers of the alliance that protects the Middle Continent, meet with Gwydion, the new Duke of Navarne, Anborn, the Lord Marshal, Achmed, the King of Ylorc, and Grunthor, the Sergeant-Major to discuss news that forms the pieces of a great puzzle of war. The Patriarch joins them.
Faron, the Titan, joins Talquist.
Rath, the Dracian, finds a F'dor and tries to bind it.
The Titan agrees to become the host for the F'dor.
War is coming.
Profile Image for Caley.
103 reviews2 followers
April 26, 2022
I loved the first two books in the series, then enjoyed each book less and less
I had hoped for more Achmed and Grunthor funtimes from this book but was left wanting
About 70% of this book was reminding the reader of what happened during the last 5 books…it just felt like this book was unfinished.
Ashe is the worst
I know there are three more books in this series but I’m calling it now. I can’t read three more books of Rhapsody and Ashe making smoochy eyes at each other.
I recommend the first three books of this series so much but I should have stopped after book 3
Profile Image for Gayla Essen.
71 reviews1 follower
August 20, 2020
Amazing read!!

I have read all of this series up to this point. This book was amazing just as all the others in this series. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy, humor, and intrigue!
Profile Image for LeAndra.
8 reviews1 follower
April 4, 2022
I because so frustrated with plot points in this book that I nearly screamed during scenes. Not because they were badly written, but because they were so WELL written. It's like Elizabeth Haydon knows right where to twist the dagger.
61 reviews
May 11, 2017
The series is flagging now, too many characters and too much focus on the villains mean the Three get barely any time in the narrative.
Profile Image for David J.
49 reviews
May 3, 2019
A great buildup to the what looks to be one hell of a war. A great introduction to some new characters and a continuation of the world building narrative of SoA. Book VII, here I come!
26 reviews
April 9, 2023
Library finally acquired books 6 & 7. I've missed these characters.
Profile Image for Laurie.
402 reviews19 followers
October 3, 2017
4.75 I really need a minute, I'm lamenting the fact that I no longer have access to new Elizabeth Haydon books. My only problem with this was the fact that there were many perspectives throughout the whole novel, some that only appeared once or twice and had little significance, and I wished they'd focused a bit more on Ashe and The Three. I love this series. Absolutely love it.
Profile Image for S.
12 reviews9 followers
September 1, 2014
So happy that I have re-read this book (as well as all the previous books in the series) and have come to notice a LOT of things I have missed with the first read back in 2007.

The book does a great job of setting up the most dire, bleak future for the Alliance and Rhapsody and her friends. The lore of the Dragon Scales: The scales taken from the Primal Wyrm and from the Dragons that protect the World and the Great Trees are keys to destroying the world itself (if a F'dor were to require them all) and holds a key to opening the Vault of the Underworld with using the Sleeping Child hidden in Ylorc.

Meanwhile, Talquist has attacked the holy city of Sepulvatar and is seeking the Child of Time (in order to live forever). Ashe is wrestling with losing control to his inner Wyrm with the loss of Rhapsody and his newborn Child Meridion. And Elysynous is missing and did she have possession to one of the Scales?

We also have the introduction to Rath and learn more about the Dhracians and their battle against the F'dor, and learn more about the F'dor themselves.

I can't understand why so many people have found this book lacking? It was a delightful, informative read that left you wanting more! And now that The Merchant Emperor is finally released, we will start to see everything falling into chaotic-place. The War of the Known World was bound to happen eventually, but I'd never thought it would had been as dramatic as it seems to be. Will Ashe lose himself? Will Rhapsody become possessed by the F'dor now bound to Faron, the Titan of Living Stone? Will the entire world be consumed by Talquist army and his dragonic-insect beast? Will Rath/Grunthor be able to bring down the Titan, and will Achmed finally do what his mentor (Father Halphasion) wanted of him: To hunt for the F'dor and destroy all of them. Will he enter the Vault of the Underworld itself and destroy all the remaining demons?
And will the Child of Time be captured? Those are the questions that Haydon weaves into the War of the Known World, and it's going to be great a ride!
1,336 reviews15 followers
December 19, 2014
The disparate stories everyone collected in Elegy for a Lost Star come together here, as everyone convenes for a council of war. With so much danger present, Ashe decides to send Rhapsody and their son to Ylorc with the Bolg while the rest of them prepare for war. But even the horrors they've uncovered are only a small part of Talquist's grand scheme. In addition, a hunter has come from across the sea with two targets: the F'dor, and Achmed.

This picks up right where Elegy left off, convening the council and recapping the major events of the last two books. It also introduces Rath, a mysterious figure who proves as entertaining as Achmed (and with much the same sense of humor). It's good to see Rhapsody, Achmed, and Grunthor back together, bickering as usual. And the deep history of the world gets a few more revelations, clearing up some things from earlier books.

That said, it felt very much like Elegy in that it picks up in the middle of a story and ends in the middle. Despite the book's title, Achmed doesn't get much attention until 3/4 the way through the book. Ashe seems to have gotten colossally stupid (with the dragon as obsessively detail-oriented as it is, it's odd he even falls for the deception as badly as he does; and even if the dragon hadn't noticed, the man should've figured out something was wrong with the picture). Certain plot threads, like the meeting of dragons and the Raven's guild, are picked up very briefly and then dropped again.

Overall it's still worth a read to continue onward with the series, but it isn't something I would read alone. The recap is detailed enough to catch up a new reader, but it's a bit irritating to someone who remembers the major events well enough not to want to slog through pages and pages of the same thing again. Achmed continues to be the bright point of the series, along with his obsession for the Lightcatcher. I rate this book Recommended for those who have been following the series thus far; if not, pick up Rhapsody and start at the beginning.
Profile Image for Chelsea Downey.
583 reviews18 followers
July 28, 2020
I honestly think I marked this book as previously read in error, purely because I owned a copy. I had definitely not read more than a chapter before.

While Haydon has kept the long view and depth of world-building inherent in epic fantasy, the pace of this novel is much faster. Though at the same time, a lot of our favorite character's dialogue (Anborn the most) has slowed down for a more classical tone. It's weird.

As foretold in the bridge novels, the world is heading toward a cataclysmic war. Some of the combatants are clear (Sorbold, Cymrian Alliance) but others are waiting in the wings (F'dor, Argaut). Haydon is fond of repetition and foreshadowing so I was pleased to have guessed our latest F'dor ahead of the reveal. Oh, and Anwyn is like a bad penny.

I liked having more side characters get a turn, Melisande and Gavin, while meeting entirely new ones like Rath. The Archons remain important and we get to learn more about the importance of dragons. Oh, and Talquist has been suspiciously busy for someone on the throne for less than a year...

The rating couldn't go to 5 stars because of some obvious retconning. Ashe goes insane being parted from Rhapsody? Or is it just because of their child, Meridion (who is a delight, of course)? And this whole Luminaria business would've been just as cool introduced when the Three first met Stephen.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 78 reviews

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