Jesse's Reviews > Acacia: The War with the Mein

Acacia by David Anthony Durham
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's review
Jul 03, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy
Recommended for: fans of George R.R. Martin and epic fantasy in general
Read in October, 2007

So I finally finished this book. I can't believe how long it took me. Slow to start, but great 100 pages in.

Ok so to the characters. I liked these characters. The interesting thing about them is that i liked the secondary characters of Leeka Alain and Thadeus alot more than the 4 heirs to the books title throne. Why? Because they were great figures, yet they were also flawed. One man betrayed his most beloved friend and that friends children, because of something said friend's father did. He regrets it, and spends the rest of the book redeeming himself for this act. The other is a fallen general who struggles to avenge his nation and soveriegn, only to have the struggle crush his spirit and hope. Then he becomes a drug addict, and spends the rest of the book reclaiming all of himself that he had lost. Don't get me wrong. The kids are interesting and believable orphaned heirs to the throne. They are even interesting in the mythic/archtypal roles they play. Badasses are badasses, but flawed badasses are cooler is all I'm saying. I also liked that the antagonists of this story are very morally gray. They aren't evil, they are an oppressed people who just want revenge on the empire that oppressed them for so long. Though they do get a little dirt on their morals when they then maintain said empires corrupt practices. Still, the badasses are badasses rule applies and so they are also very entertaining as well as being real. So characters are a solid 4 stars.

The setting is really unique. Its 5 stars all the way. In many peoples fantasy I can see obvious broad cultural/ethnological stereotypes used. This isn't bad, its just using what common popular historical info people have in their heads. Tap into what people already have in their heads to some degree and they will keep coming back for more. Interestingly enough in this book, the world is just different enough that I can't easilly say "oh that part is from Rome History" or "Thats like mixed up Arthurian legend"..etc. Yet the setting is just enough like our own view of ancient history, as to whisper similarities in our unconcious' ear. The Acacians to me have the flavor of several different Imperial cultures, pieced together into a wholey unique feel. The same can be said for the Meinish. I want to call them Goths, or Huns, or even something else I'm not entirely familiar with. Which in the end is what they are. They make a logical sense as a people, but I can't point a finger at any one group that I know of (maybe there is one I don't know of) and say, "there, that is who the Meinish are based on". The Talayan cultures definitely feel African in nature, but that a cheese I ate definetly tasted like a French Cheese. Which one?, theres like a 1000!. I like this about the book though. It wasn't like I was reading epic fantasy that copies the broad and semi-broad strokes of all the other epic fantasy authors out there. Oh and I just have to mention that the Shipping League and their sea platforms are awesome! So 5 stars for setting.

Finally we come to the actual plot. This is the first book, so it is setting up much larger things. So I cut it a little slack, but still the orphaned children finding their destiny and coming home to collect, is classic. I don't mind it so much myself, but I can't give a huge amount of credit for using what could be called a cliche plotline. So I'm going with 3 stars, and hoping the next ones plot is a bit more out of left field.

Over all I must say that if you like George R.R. Martin style epic fantasy, you will probably like this. It could of stood to have a bit more developed spycraft/intrique (I find it hard to believe that an Imperial dynasty that has lasted for 22 generations unbroken, would not have a well developed intelligence network. Hang on untill page 100, it starts slow but by the end it will be worth it.
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