20 September, 2012

Review - The Other Lands (Acacia #2) by David Anthony Durham

To be honest, before I knew anything about this series, I saw the title and thought, wow, don't get too creative there. After having a little experience with this world and this series, there really isn't a better name for this, the second book of the Acacia trilogy

The Other Lands [US] [UK] is an excellent sequel to Acacia: The War with the Mein. It takes the solid foundation built in Acacia and expands it to, well, the Other Lands, which is a place full of new creatures and peoples. Best of all, we finally get to meet these people the Acacians have been so afraid of and sending their children to.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I look a a sequel review as a place to discuss the first novel freely, so if you haven't read it, 1) you should and 2) you may not want to read the rest.

The Akarans, rulers of Acacia, are back in control after the Mein usurpation. Queen Corinn is doing her best to keep Acacia safe, which now includes her son, Aaden. She refuses to abolish the terrible "quota," Acacia's dirty not-so secret, which is where a quota of children are traded to a distant people through the League of Vessels and the Lothan Aklun.

The late Prince Aliver's dream is refused and the people are restless.

Durham really knows how to tug at the heartstrings and the quota is no exception. Having three kids of my own, it's hard not to think about losing your precious children to a trade with a foreign people, not knowing what becomes of those children.

In The Other Lands, we find out what does become of them, but I won't go ruining that for you.

As we know from Acacia, Prince Aliver was killed by Maender Mein, brother of Hanish Mein, the ruler of the Mein (whew). The rest of the Akaran children (although no longer children as this book takes place 9 years after Acacia) are under the rule of Queen Corinn as well, who has plenty to keep them busy.

Starting out, Mena is sent out to fight the foulthings. Foulthings are those creatures that came about because of the Santoth's magic use toward the end of the first book. Due to the Santoth's corrupted magic, these beings came about, essentially causing havoc among the people of the Known World.

This leads her into some trouble, but for the most part, Mena doesn't play an enormous role in this book. She's in it plenty, but her parts seem more of a set up for the next book whereas all the action really occurs with Corinn and especially Dariel.

Dariel decides, with Corinn's approval, to go about rebuilding the empire. With the destruction caused by the Numrek and the Mein, many places were in need of help including Aushenia in the north, which faced some of the worst of it.

Very quickly Corinn has another mission for Dariel, sending him across the Gray Slopes to the Other Lands (first of the Known World to do so) on a mission devised by the League of Vessels. And we all know how trustworthy they are.

The Other Lands is really a book full of answers. Many of the mysteries presented in Acacia are explained as we learn more of the Other Lands and the peoples therein. We learn of the quota children, we learn of the Aldek, and we even learn why the Numrek arrived in the Known World.

We get glimpses of the creatures and the trip across the Gray Slopes was breathtaking. I applaud Durham's imagination, which never ceases to astound me.

While we get many answers, The Other Lands is still very much a set up for the final volume of the trilogy. There are some great moments and some great action, but mostly there is preparation for what is to come...and it will be amazing.

It's also a book that needed to happen and it doesn't suffer for being the bridge between the two. There's enough wonder and amazement to keep you turning pages and even some big events that I'm sure will pay off in the final volume.

Durham's also written some of my all-time favorite characters in stouthearted Mena and the ever witty Dariel. These are the main reason you read these books and I can't get enough.

The Other Lands is an incredible and epic installment in the Acacia trilogy. It brings everything to a whole new level and prepares us for the final encounters that I couldn't be more excited for. If you like epic in your fantasy, the Acacia trilogy is the one for you. It will have you living and breathing the life of a Known World inhabitant (and Other World as well) and that's exactly why I read fantasy.

4.5/5 Stars (Extremely Highly Recommended!)

The Acacia Trilogy: (read in red)
1) Acacia: The War with the Mein (review)
2) The Other Lands
3) The Sacred Band

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher


Unknown said...

I have bought book 1 twice now, but haven't sat down and read it. Will have to soon. Great review.

MBJ said...

This is a great blog.

I have a sci fi art blog I'm trying to get going. it's at http://mbjsgeekyfreak.com.au

It's sci fi art and comics by MBJ, cartoonist and scifi illustrator.There's a fair bit of content on there already, I'd be stoked if you'd check it out.



ediFanoB said...

So you are one book ahead. I read the first book so far.
Great review.

Bryce L. said...

@Tyson - It's definitely worth a go, I really enjoyed both of these and depending on the last one, this series may end up in my all-time top 10.

@Matt - Thanks a ton, will check out the blog.

@edi - Thanks, and Yes! I'm rarely ahead of anyone. :D