Review: Acacia by David Anthony Durham

AcaciaThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

David Anthony Durham is well-known for his award-winning historical novels, but he recently turned his pen to fantasy and started an epic. Acacia is the first volume in the story The War with the Mein, which blends action and intrigue with a sweeping setting.

King Leoden Akaran is the highest ruler in the world. The empire of Acacia has existed for hundreds of years, and has brought peace to all under its rule. Alas, peace has been purchased at a high price: The king is forced to uphold a bargain that his ancestors made long ago, which requires him to allow traffic in drugs and slaves.

Leoden’s children have grown up ignorant of what lies beneath the kingdom’s quiet, although the older two have some idea of the world at large. All this is shattered when an assassin from the north, one of the exiled Mein warriors, strikes at the king. Wounded and dying, Leoden scatters his children to the winds to protect them.

Little does he know that the poison isn’t merely in his body, but also in the heart of his kingdom.

Several characters vie for attention here, and thus it takes awhile to really get a feel for any one individual. Foremost in this category are the king and his four children. I’m not used to seeing quite that many contenders for “main character” status, and it’s a bit disconcerting to keep an eye on all of them.

That said, Durham’s plot is well managed and moves along nicely. This obviously is the first of a trilogy or series, as the author provides the set-up for many locations, races and customs. With luck, the payoff will be good in future installments. Durham is working on creating a complex and vivid world, and I hope he succeeds.

Although a bit dense on characters as it introduces readers to an intriguing new world, Acacia is the beginning of a story that I’ll continue to watch. I’m curious to see where Durham goes with it.