06 August, 2012

Review - Acacia: The War with the Mein by David Anthony Durham

Crazy enough, I actually originally planned on giving this series a pass. There's just so much time and so little to read... or something like that.

But then I read this review of the entire trilogy from a reviewer I highly trust and I decided I should give it a go after all. I'm so glad I didn't stick to the original plan.

Acacia [US] [UK] follows the Akaran family, the ruling family of the nation that is Acacia. King Leodan is a devoted and loving father to his four children, Aliver, Corinn, Mena, and Dariel. As noble and even likable as King Leodan is, his conquering nation has many enemies and holds a number of dark secrets which began generations earlier.

One of these nations is that of the Meins. Lead by Hanish Mein and his two brothers, the Meins have been harboring a hatred for the Acacians and their dark secrets for as long as they have been banished to the desolate wasteland that is the far north of the Known World.

Acacia unfolds very gradually as we get to know each of the Akaran children intimately along with Leodan, his chancellor, Hanish Mein, and even a few others. As each has their own point of view chapter, you may begin to see why many complain of the slow start that this book is known for.

Personally, I think the slow burn worth it because you feel a deep connection to each of the children especially and once the story really gets going your joy and anguish for these characters is only enhanced.* I've also only been a father for a couple years and I really felt the deep connection that King Leodan had with his children and only hope that my kid (soon to be kids) feel the same about me some day.

*Note: This is also coming from a huge fan of authors such as Susanna Clarke, John Marco, and Janny Wurts, who likes themselves some words.

However, if a slow start is not for you, you'll be happy to know that Mr. Durham has cut out 14,000 words of this volume in the newest release.

This series has been favorably compared to George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series and I think that is valid. Both deal with young characters, lots of political intrigue, vast scope, and low on magic. I have to admit that Mena is just as cool as Arya in a lot of ways, not the least of which is the fact that she's a sword-wielding noble's daughter.

The characters grow up about midway through the novel, but the similarities are still there. There's betrayal, reverse betrayal, and some twists and turns that not only come out of nowhere, but make you feel like you should have seen it all along. That's just good writing.

The one big and highly favorable comparison I can make is that at a certain point I was so involved with one pov, I'd flip pages to see when we'd go back to that one, only to get just as involved in the next pov. That's a very good thing.

If you're dying for something to read while we wait for George, Acacia just may be the perfect interlude. I can't believe how close I was to passing on this series, what a huge mistake that would have been. Acacia is exactly the kind of epic fantasy I love.

4.5 out of 5 Stars (Very Highly Recommended!)

The Acacia Trilogy
Acacia: The War with the Mein (Book 1)
The Other Lands (Book 2)
The Sacred Band (Book 3)

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher


ediFanoB said...

In 2009 I read the German edition of the first book.
In 2012 I finally got a copy of the third and final book.

And this is an example what happens quite often when I read a series.
I get the first book and then it takes a long time until I get the rest of a series. In the meantime I read other books and have problems to return to the series. It seems I need a reading list with books of series I did not finish.

Thanks for your review!

Bryce L. said...

Thank you! I keep doing much the same. I've made the new goal of sticking with series as much as I can even when I start with only one book of the series released. I need to get better. :)

mathias said...

As much as I'm interested in this, it never sounds like a good recommendation to read that 14,000 words could be cut easily to improve the experience.

Bryce L. said...

It's my opinion, having read the book containing all the words even the 14k, that it was a great read. I think some people were complaining about some parts not needing to be so detailed. I think it all adds to the grand picture, character development, etc., but he felt like it could be streamlined a bit anyway.

mathias said...

It's alright, I'm going to see for myself.