I have just finished reading Acacia by David Anthony Durham.
Here are my thoughts--the praise, and the criticisms:
First off, I'm an avid fantasy reader, (Tolkien, Martin, Jordan, Lewis, Sanderson, Durham, Novik, Paolini, Flanagan, Erikson...) so I know what I'm talking about!
So, read on, Like or Dislike, Comment, and Read my other fantasy reviews!
1. Aren't the Akarans partly based on the Starks?
My reasoning went thus:
Leodan Akaran--Eddard Stark
Aliver Akaran--Robb Stark
Corinn Akaran--Sansa Stark
Mena Akaran--Arya Stark
Dariel Akaran--Bran\Rickon Stark.
The parallels go further.
Eddard Stark and Leodan Akaran are both killed, and their children separate.
Aliver and Robb are both killed.
Corinn and Sansa are both lady-like and both don't really leave civilization.
Mena and Arya are both tom-boyish, good fighters.
So, is it coincidence, or is there a similarity between the Akarans and the Starks?
2. Good World-building.
The land Acacia takes place in is exceptionally well-built by today's standards.
The best fantasy worlds always seem to fit together. Everything makes sense--the allegiances, the past battles, the armies...
Acacia was like this, due in part to DD's career as a historian.
I always say, "Fantasy Should Have Ground in Reality."
UNLIKE Brandon Sanderson's land of Roshar, (Read my review on the subject) The Known World fulfills this rule perfectly.
It feels like a world that could have existed, there isn't a WHOLE LOT of magic in the first book. Just enough to make it believable, and at the same time give you no doubt that it's fantasy you're reading.
History, Imports, Exports, Allegiances, Alliances, Rulers, Armies, Constitutions, Religion...All these were obviously meticulously "researched".
In summary: I'm not saying that other authors DON'T think out there worlds, because they do, but Acacia was an exceptionally interesting and intriguing fantasy world.
3. A Lot of Gratuitous Nudity, Though Not the Type to Offend.
That's right, from the whole of Dariel's crew stripping so that they could SWIM better to the entire Acacian army doffing their clothes to repel monstrous beasts called antoks who were bred to hate colour, there's a lot of written nudity in this book where I feel there didn't need to be ANY at all. (All of these situations are made more awkward for the reader because the Acacians use women as soldiers, as well as men.)
So, the question is WHY?
I thought perhaps Durham, historian that he is, was going for the Greek style of fighting and combat--the Greeks usually fighting devoid of clothing.
So, really, this issue equals half a star off the book. Call me crazy but it gets annoying!
4. The Beginning And The End Is Best.
The rest is--what's the word? Ah--the rest is WEIRD!
What! You're saying, "I thought he liked this book!"
But yes, the middle was...the same but different. The same as other fantasies in the sense that it has many of the same elements, but Durham changes things. Just leetle, leetle things, which make a whole lot of difference:
The color of someone's skin.
The odd, crude element thrown in here and there.
The occasional quirky habit of a character.
Things like that; they make Acacia neither fish nor fowl, to me.
--But let me just state once more that Acacia was a good book that I had a pleasure reading.
Back to the beginning and the end:
The first chapter is brilliant: 5 stars.
The first chapters with Leeka Alain were some of the best fantasy I have ever read.
The beginning chapters, nay, the first book, (Acacia: War with the Mein is divided into 3 `books') was stunning indeed.
The ending was a disappointment, SPOILER Aliver's death was not grand enough SPOILER ENDS, the battle was not nearly as good as it could have been, etc. But it makes up for it with the arrival of the Santoth.
So, in short:
The beginning was riveting. The middle was merely an incentive to get to the end. The ending was done well, but not perfect.
I've spent a long time on this review, and still haven't said all I wanted to say. Perhaps I'll come back when I find the time.
I have written so many conclusions in the above review I doubt I need write another one. But I will:
Acacia: War With the Mein was one of the better fantasies I've had the pleasure of reading. It was action-packed, well-characterized, and thought-through. However it was certainly not without its faults, which include gratuitous nudity, clumsy fight scenes, and a slow moving plot.
So, now that you've read my review on Acacia, read some of my other reviews. Do not forget to leave a like or dislike, and I appreciate your comments greatly.