Acacia by David Anthony Durham
Review by Allan Fisher
Welcome to the land of Akaran Utopia, or at least that’s what the four Royal children of King Leodan Akaran believe. Unbeknownst to them is the fact that this lifestyle has been bought based on a lie in a world mired in corruption, deception, slavery and drug trafficking and thus begins the basic premise of our Epic story. Throughout the divided Empire this inevitably brings resentment, discontent and subterfuge. Our journey starts with the introduction of a Mein assassin, a people banished to the northern frozen lands, and the assassin’s journey to the land of Acacia to kill the king. King Leodan is portrayed as a kindly man and loving father but his conscience is at odds with the truth of his Empire, and yet is a prisoner of his land’s politics and thus powerless to change the Quota or the League.
The book quickly draws in the reader through DAD’s accomplished writing and engaging storytelling, and we are introduced to lots of characters in the early stages of the book. DAD skilfully builds the tension at the beginning and scopes out his characters in such a way, that we are able to empathise with all parties, except maybe the warlike Numrek. We see all sides and are left with the feeling that they all have a moral point to their actions. This is it’s strongest point as all characters motivations are fully explored and revealed. There are also a few surprising twists thrown in and we see DAD using his skill as an historical writer to flesh out the background to the Acacian world and neighbouring worlds to give them depth and purpose. It is a world of political intrigue, ambition and slavery as well as one of honour, strength and myth. Not all parties are what they seem and nothing is quite what you would expect as it breaks from the usual fantasy conventions. We are also made aware of the mysterious Lothan Akun and this allows exploration for the subsequent two books in the trilogy. The ending was totally unexpected, though refreshing in its boldness and direction.
Acacia is a captivating and entertaining novel for an author’s first foray into the fantasy genre and one that has me catching back up on the world of fantasy after a year or two away. The characters, while following a formulaic path do not take the routes treaded in other fantasy novels. It perhaps could have had a little more humour thrown in and a better handling of the action scenes and this would have completed the novel for me. As it is though, it is a stellar novel and whilst I have yet to discover the likes of Erikson, Abercrombie, Rothfuss and Sanderson this book was instrumental in reigniting my passion for fantasy. Ultimately, it was a book that I was unable to put down and had me ordering the sequel immediately. I urge you to try it, but please be aware of my disclaimer as I have not yet discovered many of the newer fantasy authors.
Tom from Ohio
A good mix of politics and action. Very good characters and enough twists to keep you guessing.
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