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Starred Review. In this sprawling and vividly imagined fantasy, historical novelist Durham (Pride of Carthage) chronicles the downfall and reinvention of the Akaran Dynasty, whose empire, called Acacia, was built on conquest, slaving and drug trade. The Acacian empire, encompassing "The Known World," is hated by its subjugated peoples, especially the Mein, who 22 generations earlier were exiled to the icy northland. Having sent an assassin to kill the Acacian king, Leodan, the rebel chieftain, Hanish Mein, declares war on the empire. As Acacia falls, Leodan's treasonous but conflicted chancellor, Thaddeus Clegg, spirits the king's four children to safety. When the Mein's rule proves even more tyrannical than the old, the former chancellor seeks to reunite the now adult Akaran heirs—the oldest son Aliver (once heir to the throne), the beautiful elder daughter Corinn, their younger sister, Mena, and youngest brother, Dariel—to lead a war to regain the empire. Durham has created a richly detailed alternate reality leavened with a dollop of magic and populated by complicated personalities grappling with issues of freedom and oppression. (June)
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*Starred Review* The outwardly idyllic life of widower Leodan Arkan, ruler of the Known World, and his four children belies the underlying darkness of drug and slave trafficking that supports the kingdom's prosperity. Meanwhile, in the frigid north the long-exiled Mein are planning the war they inaugurate by assassinating Leodan at a public gathering. The tension is palpable as the enemy forces make their move. Rampant intrigue and treachery place the lives of the Arkan children in great danger, and they are spirited away—scattered to the four winds—in hopes of keeping them safe. None of the four knows where the others are, and each has to discover his or her own destiny. But all are determined to avenge their father and restore the Acacian Empire. Durham has created a viable, vital world, his plotting is impeccable, and his characters are diverse in race and multidimensional in personality. A full-bodied history of events leading up to the situation portrayed and a well-conceived mythology are woven into the narrative, giving it even greater substance. Fortunately indeed, this is just the blockbuster beginning of the War with the Mein. Estes, Sally
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.