[Free Best] Acacia: The War with the MeinAuthor David Anthony Durham – Vivefutbol.co

When I was asked to review this book, I was less than enthusiastic. I’ve been reading genre fiction for a long time, and there are things I’d decided I was done with. Topping that list was “High Fantasy Quest Novels,” followed almost immediately by “Book 1 of a Brand New Series” (with a special amount of “done” leftover for “Book 1’s in Excess of 500 Pages”). Still, the book was sent to me by someone I trust, so I decided to give it a go.

She always was the smart one.

David Anthony Durham has pulled off something remarkable: a huge, sprawling epic that manages to weave together history, politics, intrigue and thunderous action scenes without ever losing track of the multitudes of finelydrawn characters.

The detail that Durham lavishes on his world is impressive, and it grounds you firmly in this land. The author’s previous work as an historical novelist is clear in the care he takes with the backgrounds of the various kingdoms. We learn about myths, religious practices, courting practices, ruling philosophies, and day to day living for a number of different peoples. The truly amazing thing is that this wealth of detail is all germane to the main action of the story, and that, with a few exceptions, the story doesn’t grind to a halt while we’re getting the background info.

That said, this is book one of a series, which means that there’s a great deal of setup for a payoff that, although sensible, seems a bit too abrupt. Or maybe that’s just my impatience; this is only book one, after all. I’m sure I’ll get the payoff I want eventually, but I want it now!

Much closer to George R.R. Martin than J.R.R. Tolkien, Acacia has wonders in store both for those who love epic fantasy and for those who think it’s old hat. Once you visit, you’ll be as giddy as I am that there are more chapters still to come (and as grumpy as I am that they’re not out yet). I can't think of a fantasy book that was less fun to read than this one.

I knew I was probably going to be in trouble when the first six chapters were from six different points of view. I don't know why every fantasy author thinks a) we need that b) they have the skills to write that many characters well.

Hard to form much empathy with any of the characters. At the 50% mark there has been onaverage 2 chapters percharacter. Character overload. That we get a 9year fast forward and a "this is the brief version of what happened to all of the characters in those nine years" exposition doesn't help matters.

Combine that with Durham's maddening elliptical style (nearly everything of consequence either happens offscreen or is narrated in a kind of Encyclopedia Britannica "this is what happened" style). He also seems to abhor writing dialog (which is usually a key component in fleshing out characters). I'm not sure there is one proper conversation in dialogue in the entire book.

One (small) positive is that despite this being a "trilogy" things wrap up pretty well at the end of the first book. I have absolutely zero desire to read any more of this series. 3.5 stars. This is one of those books I began to like more and more AFTER I was finished with it. The pacing was a bit uneven and there were some spots that dragged on too long(it is large book). However, when I finished the book and thought about it, I started thinking, WOW a lot of very interesting, orginal ideas were explored in this book and the worldbuilding was very convincing. I really liked the set up of the Known World, the exploration of the evil activities used to keep the Akaran empire together (i.e., the Quota and the Mist)and its effect on the otherwise likeable Akaran family. Also, the author did a very good job introducing the evil Lothan Aklun while keeping them mysterious enough to keep us hanging on for the next novel. Again, while reading the book, I would have probably rated it on 3 stars. However, looking at it in hindsight and thinking about everything that was included in the book, I gave it an extra half star for all of the amazing ideas introduced in the story. I will certainly look out for the next book in the series. 2.5*'s.

The story was good. I liked the characters. The world was different and robust. So why only 2.5's? I think the axiom show don't tell sums it up. I felt disappointed at many key action points. It was like somebody sent me an email about sitting front row of a performance. Beyond that instead of a scene showing why a character was intuitive or graceful we would get two paragraphs describing why. There was also portions of the book where it seemed there was little to no dialog for too long of a period.

Still I'm torn on going on because as I said the world, characters and general story were good and well thought out. When it comes to fantasy, I often wonder if writers these days are paid by the pound. Glancing over the spines of the novels in the scifi and fantasy section at the bookstore or library, it certainly seems that way. I often wonder if the word "epic" should be translated "book so big you can hurt someone if you dropped it on them from the top of a flight of stairs."

There are a lot of writers who fall into the category of epic being little more than an excuse to have a huge page count and to give readers a severe case of cramps holding the book. Terry Goodkind is the most obvious culprit to me, though I've heard Robert Jordan can be the same (I've not read any Jordan and have no plans to in the near future). But then you've got an author like George R.R. Martin who embraces the term and delivers book that are, for lack of a better term, truly epic, packed with character and world building and a narrative thrust that keeps moving forward and rarely devolves into extended navel gazing.

Somewhere in between those two extremes of Goodkind and Martin is "Acacia," a story that advertises itself as an epic fantasy and certainly has the page count to backup it up. David Anthony Durham has previously written some historical novels. The attention to detail and creating an authentic sense of time and place is both an asset and a detriment to "Acacia." Durham's attention to detail and worldbuilding is admirable, when its being done right, but there are times when it brings the entire story to a halt and gets a bit tedious. A lot of these are in the first 200 or so pages as Durham has to laboriously put pieces into place so he can give us the payoff in the next two thirds of the book. It makes the novel difficult to wade into.

Durham's world is an intriguing enough one with various political factions vying for power. Several factions have controlled the world of "Acacia" at various times, each one working to build alliance and overthrow the other for as long as time can recall. It's an old struggle and it's not one that is going to end any time soon. One interesting aspect is the idea that each ruler comes into power with lofty dreams of changing the system of rule only to find the system is far too entrenched to make such radical changes without destroying their grasp on power and the world as it is.

In the universe of "Acacia," the ruling family rules with the help of a hired naval fleet and an interesting pact. Each year, the party in power provides a quota of slaves in return for the continued coexistence with another faction of might and a drug that keeps the rest of the populace sedated and in line. This deal with the devil as it were keeps the status quo and allows the infighting amongst factions as each one goes into and out of power. There are different names and personalities to things, but each ruler realizes that this is the system and it's going to take more than political capital and intestinal fortitude to change things they have or are willing to sacrifice.

Durham is clearly trying to follow the example of Martin with a sprawling cast of characters, many of whom you'll like and then dislike and then like again as the story goes along. He's also willing to make sure that no one is safe in the story, giving the story a bit more gravity than other fantasy offerings where you know that certain characters won't die or change too much in the course of the novel or series.

But at close to 800 pages, this is only the opening round of the story. The cover proclaims this is to be a trilogy and while I liked the world here, I'm still not sure I'm anxious to jump into the next book. "Acacia" doesn't resolve everything and is the opening act for a larger tapestry. Whether or not I'll continue the journey remains to be seen. I should have quit reading this one. I kept trying to give it a chance and wondering where it would go. I didn't like the world enough or care about the characters enough to have it be worth the time. Good people are killed off. Realistic I suppose and highly developed but depressing. A long book and it will be a long series, Robert Jordan or George RR Martin like, but I don't need it to be a part of my life. Not recommended. I was genuinely excited to read this novel. So much so that it was one of the first Kindle novels I purchased, and it was with pleasure that I planned to lose myself in Durham's incredibly long novel. The first few pages started off well: assassin on the gogreat. Descriptions of how he moves through different climes, adapting his clothing and style to each one so as to blend in. Great. And then...? He arrives in his destination city, and suddenly we spin away from him, and begin to follow a host of other characters. Only a few hundred pages later does the assassin reappear. Not so great.

However, it need not have been a problem if Durham had kept my attention. Don't get me wronghe does an excellent job of fleshing out an intriguing fantasy world. Sure, you have your standard frozen wastes up north from which the peril to the empire shall come, but still, it was a job well done, with different cultures, an incredibly interesting drug trade problem, and plenty of attention to detail to customs, traditions and more.

However... the characters felt wooden. In the style of George Martin the story focuses on a group of brothers and sisters, and follows their adventures as their family and lives of privilege are sundered. My problem was that the protagonists simply weren't that interesting or unique to hold my attention. If this were the first time that I were reading a doorstopper tale of fantasy about a group of kids then sure, it would have worked, but after Martin's treatment of the Starks you need more then just a rehash.

Where the novel really lost me however was when the bad guys from the North made their big appearance. They felt two dimensional, as if Durham were working too hard to make them seem cool, dangerous, and vicious, and as a result they lacked depth and failed to interest me. When the empire fell I didn't really care too much, since I didn't buy into the bad guys, and when the kids scattered I only decided to keep on reading due to having invested so much time in the novel already.

Flash forward five years or so in the novel's time line, and the kids are all grown up and radically changed. One has become the most daring of pirates, the other a hardened desert warrior, the next the high priestess of a sea cult, etc. The problem was that they changed so radically that I lost my connection to themit was as if I were being introduced to a whole new cast of characters, and their extreme roles destroyed my suspension of disbelief all over again. With nobody left to follow of interest, I stopped reading.

So, Acacia: a beautifully realized world, a great sense of history, myth, diverse cultures and traditions, but peopled with wooden characters, two dimensional villains and unable to hold my attention after the first few hundred pages.
Leodan Akaran, Ruler Of The Known World, Has Inherited Generations Of Apparent Peace And Prosperity, Won Ages Ago By His Ancestors A Widower Of High Intelligence, He Presides Over An Empire Called Acacia, After The Idyllic Island From Which He Rules He Dotes On His Four Children And Hides From Them The Dark Realities Of Traffic In Drugs And Human Lives On Which Their Prosperity Depends He Hopes That He Might Change This, But Powerful Forces Stand In His Way And Then A Deadly Assassin Sent From A Race Called The Mein, Exiled Long Ago To An Icelocked Stronghold In The Frozen North, Strikes At Leodan In The Heart Of Acacia While They Unleash Surprise Attacks Across The Empire On His Deathbed, Leodan Puts Into Play A Plan To Allow His Children To Escape, Each To Their Separate Destiny And So His Children Begin A Quest To Avenge Their Father's Death And Restore The Acacian Empire — This Time On The Basis Of Universal Freedom

If I wasn't having so much fun buddy reading this book with Cillian, I would've given up on it around halfway through XD

Read in February, 2017 Well, my rating should tell you everything you need to know: this read didn't go so well.
It was a fucking disaster.

Read with Gergana in her group A Land of Fantasy Addicts, AKA "Don't know how to bike, but books we like."