- Hardcover: 592 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday (June 12, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385506066
- ISBN-13: 978-0385506069
- Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 187 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,429,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Acacia: The War with the Mein (Acacia, Book 1) Hardcover – June 12, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this sprawling and vividly imagined fantasy, historical novelist Durham (Pride of Carthage) chronicles the downfall and reinvention of the Akaran Dynasty, whose empire, called Acacia, was built on conquest, slaving and drug trade. The Acacian empire, encompassing "The Known World," is hated by its subjugated peoples, especially the Mein, who 22 generations earlier were exiled to the icy northland. Having sent an assassin to kill the Acacian king, Leodan, the rebel chieftain, Hanish Mein, declares war on the empire. As Acacia falls, Leodan's treasonous but conflicted chancellor, Thaddeus Clegg, spirits the king's four children to safety. When the Mein's rule proves even more tyrannical than the old, the former chancellor seeks to reunite the now adult Akaran heirs—the oldest son Aliver (once heir to the throne), the beautiful elder daughter Corinn, their younger sister, Mena, and youngest brother, Dariel—to lead a war to regain the empire. Durham has created a richly detailed alternate reality leavened with a dollop of magic and populated by complicated personalities grappling with issues of freedom and oppression. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From Bookmarks Magazine
David Anthony Durham, the author of three historical novels, envisions a fascinating, fully developed world in Acacia. He delves into great detail-explaining religious beliefs, political philosophies, even courting rituals-to draw the reader into his creation. Critics acknowledge the necessity of these "info dumps" (Science Fiction and Fantasy News) as setups for future volumes of the saga, while maintaining that the frequent descriptions did not detract from the absorbing, fast-paced plot. Readers won't find any wizards or dragons in Acacia; it is narrated in the alternating voices of genuine, convincing characters that blur the lines between good and evil. Packed with suspense, intrigue, and adventure, most readers will devour this first Acacia installment and impatiently await the next.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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The slow pacing of the book continued throughout, though. And it is slower than I think I would have liked anyway. It doesn't make it bad, this is just my preference. If you like that in a book, you may enjoy this one.
This really reads much more like a historical novel, than a fantasy novel, fantasy aspects are pretty minimal. If you are looking for High Fantasy, this isn't it.
The book is generally well written, populated with interesting characters. And the characters on different sides are all characters, not "good", and "evil". Everyone is going for their interests, or their idea of "right", it's not "good guys" vs. cardboard characters. Durham does this really well.
There's a very large cast, and a fair amount of background. It gives the book a nice feeling of depth, and of being a view into a existing world. The depth makes the world feel much more real than many books, which sometimes feel as if their world ends one step past the events in the book.
The one thing I really didn't like about the book was the combination of multiple points of view with cliff-hangers at the end of nearly every section. It made me feel like the author has been watching too much television, and didn't realize how poorly the cliff-hangers fit the structure of the novel. Every viewpoint change became an annoyance that threw me out of the narrative, instead of being an interesting shift to new events. This is the reason I won't bother with the other books in this series.
If you like slow pacing (I suspect a ten volume set coming), and aren't bothered by cliffhangers, the author does a lot of the rest really well, and you might really enjoy the book.
It begins in a Hitchcock way: an assassin is sent to slay the "good king" of the island of Acacia, and in effect emperor of much of the Known World, and you can pretty much figure out by the plot description on the back cover that he will succeed. And so the suspense stems from the wait to see how he accomplishes this. And meanwhile, back at the palace (the story's told from multiple points of view), we meet King Leodan's four children, Aliver, Corinn, Mena, and Dariel (there's no queen--she died 'ere the story began), and the King's chancellor Clegg, and generals, and governers, some totally wicked barbarian fighters mounted on rhinos, and a merchant trading class. Drugs appear, and mention is made of another race living on beyond the "Known World."
Then, the assassin strikes, there's a prolonged sequence while the mortally wounded king dies, the four children are scattered according to a plan laid out years before. But nothing goes as planned. . . . only three get away, and none to where they were supposed to.
And then, nine years later, we meet the four again to see what's become of them. The escapees gradually begin slouching back toward island Acacia once again in order to put the good guys back where they belong. Unfortunately, as the reader has already learned, and they're about to find out, the empire that fell wasn't really all that "good."
And then, after a sequence with too much in the way of magical deus ex machina that bars a fifth star, scenes featuring maybe too much triumph over overwhelming odds (one stickfighter against eight? come on! This is a fantasy novel not a martial arts movie; the one survivor of battlefield carnage is The General himself?), and a logical Holmesian deduction made on a battlefield that really, really would have astounded Watson, we approach that stunning turnaround ending.
Yes, dear reader, this is of course part 1 of a trilogy. (What isn't these days?) And while I shall certainly return for part 2, to appear in Summer 2009, the ending of this book is so perfect in its way that I almost wish the author had simply left things as they were.
With that said, I loved the Acacia series. There was depth to the characters, interesting plots, and good descriptions of the fantasy worlds. I think I read all three books in about two weeks, and found myself looking forward to sitting down to read.
There was certainly some "jumping of the shark" in all three books ... where a main character was in a situtation where it was impossible for them to win - yet they did easily without much sweat. Thinks feel together too seamlessly at times, with little if any real conflict.
But despite the flaws, it was an interesting read, and I would definitely recommend it to friends.