four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
30-Sept-Oct-2007
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0

Book One: The War with the Mein

A-AcaciaAfter King Leodan Akaran is assassinated and the peaceful realm of Acacia vanquished by the Mein, a brutal race exiled long ago to the frozen wastelands of the North, the royal family—two princes and two princesses—scatter to the four corners of the Known World. Living in secrecy, hunted and alone, Aliver, Dariel, Corinn, and Mena begin to see firsthand the legacy left to them by 22 generations of Akaran rule: a people rendered weak and complacent by drug addiction while their children are sold into slavery to finance the drug trade. Will the royal heirs be able to reclaim the throne and save Acacia?
Doubleday. 576 pages. $26.95. ISBN: 0385506066

Washington Post 4.5 of 5 Stars
"From the first pages of Acacia, Durham, a respected historical novelist, demonstrates that he is a master of the fantasy epic. … Durham sacrifices nothing—not psychological acuity, not political complexity, not lyrical phrases—as he drives the plot of this gripping book forward." Rachel Hartigan Shea

Entertainment Weekly 4 of 5 Stars
"There are no magical moral compass points like evil witch queens or Christ-like lions, just a host of deliciously self-interested parties jostling for power and resources. … Durham’s new world—like our old one—is crawling with wickedly fascinating scumbags." Neil Drumming

Revolution SF 4 of 5 Stars
"David Anthony Durham has pulled off something remarkable: a huge, sprawling epic that manages to weave together history, politics, intrigue and thunderous action scenes without ever losing track of the multitudes of finely-drawn characters. … The truly amazing thing is that this wealth of detail is all germane to the main action of the story, and that, with a few exceptions, the story doesn’t grind to a halt while we’re getting the background info." Peggy Hailey

Science Fiction & Fantasy News 3.5 of 5 Stars
"While I did have a couple of minor problems over the course of the novel, particularly the info dumps and sense that the set-up could have been more seamless, I think Durham has crafted both an entertaining and engaging novel with Acacia Book One: War with the Mein. This novel clearly sets up a greater story, and while a novel with a distinct ending, little doubt is left that the greater story remains untold." Rob H. Bedford

USA Today 3 of 5 Stars
"First installments of a trilogy are inevitably inconclusive to an irritating degree, and Durham’s writing is more serviceable than sparkling. But there are enough ably woven plot threads and social cross-currents here to stimulate readers’ interest and anticipation for the sequels." Ken Barnes

Critical Summary

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.

Also by the Author

Pride of Carthage A Novel of Hannibal (2005): 4 of 5 Stars Selection May/June 2005. Starting with Hannibal’s brutal victory over the Roman city of Saguntum, Durham explores Hannibal and his vast North African army’s treacherous odyssey toward Rome through the experiences of a foot soldier named Imco Vava.