Rhapsody: Child of Blood by Elizabeth Haydon (Symphony of Ages, #1)
Rhapsody is a slowly burning epic where the stakes are deeply personal, with friendships tense though absolute, the battles scarce but vivid. Frequently dark, refusing to despair. I'm glad to be on the side of time where I don't have to wait for the sequel.
In high fantasy I'm used to grand stories where the actions of a few protagonists somehow shift the fate of nations... and this book relentlessly bucks that trend. What change they are able to effect is in scale with their efforts, and the disaster whose resolution might have consumed whole books in some other series is instead revealed through tales after it's all over. The journey through the Root in more mesmerizing than monotonous, it has a lot to carry when they make it out and if any less of the narrative had been devoted to that phase of their journey it would have spoiled everything after.
If you read this book and like it you will be driven to read the sequel, this is is a fairly complete story but it definitely is a "to be continued" situation. The story is grander than this volume, almost so much that it can't quite stand alone in terms of emotional resolution, but the main plot threads are tied off where they need to be.
This book does contain a lot of derisive language about sex workers and sex work, as well as racism in a fantasy setting. It's consistently handled well, and it's clear that the author disagrees with the disparaging views of the characters in question (they are immediately rebuffed almost every time), but that language is present, so please take care of yourselves.
CWs for murder, mass death, child death.