Acacia, by David Anthony Durham

As David Anthony Durham’s sprawling epic fantasy Acacia opens, Leodan Akaran, the ruler of Acacia, has begun to question the secret arrangement that ensures his empire’s prosperity: a horrifying bargain struck by his ancestors. Leodan’s good intentions come too late, however, and he is mortally wounded by an assassin sent by the Mein, Acacia’s oldest enemies. From his deathbed, Leodan arranges to spirit away his four children, giving them time to grow up and make their own political alliances before returning to Acacia to avenge their father and reclaim the empire.

Acacia has everything a fantasy geek could hope for. Durham’s mythology is impressively complex, his characters are morally ambiguous, and his plot offers a fun-filled blend of political intrigue, over-the-top family drama, and good old-fashioned violence. At 753 pages of teeny-tiny print, it’s a bit too long and dense to appeal to casual fans of the genre, but hardcore enthusiasts are going to love this book...

...except for one thing. Whither the sequel? Acacia is the first novel in a projected trilogy, and nearly all of its major characters end the story on a tantalizingly ambivalent note. (Well, that, or they’re dead.) The hardcover edition of Acacia was released fifteen months ago, but but the next book in the series (The Other Lands) won't come out until sometime in the fall of 2009. Universally celebrated fantasy writers—like J.K. Rowling* and Susanna Clarke—might be able to leave readers dangling for years while they take their sweet time polishing their next opus, but nearly everybody else is expected to produce the subsequent books in their series at a brisk pace. We suggest that Mr. Durham take a nine-books-per-decade author like Dan Simmons as his model, and get cracking on those sequels, pronto.

*And even Rowling stuck to a one book-per-year schedule until the fifth Harry Potter release.
Posted by: Julia, Last edit by: Julianka


13 Jan, 2009 05:17 AM @ version 0

I have just finished reading this book, and I must say the above review is right on!
\r\nIt was an excellent read, and one that I enjoyed. It was long, and at times the multi-paragraph long descriptions of events, places, characters and especially their introspection transcends even Tolkien's works. While we are given lots of content, I found myself more than once scanning down the page wondering how long this particular bit was going to go on.
\r\nThis is not a terrible thing, though. The novel is not slow in any sense of the word, and there is a lot of ground that is covered. If I had one complaint, it was the way that the character storylines got clipped from chapter to chapter. At one point, there were no less than 5 main characters, the chapters flitting between each of their storylines in a stacatto-like fashion, with only a little interweaving between them. Perhaps this is what drove me on reading the book, and if so, it was brilliantly done. The feeling of choppiness, though, still lingers.
\r\nI have read much worse, and not much that was better than Acacia. I cannot wait for the second installment.

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