Leodan Akaran is the 22nd Akaran lord to preside over an era of
peace. The citizens of his empire, Acacia, are pawns and don't even
know it. They are subjugated and sold to obtain a drug that keeps
the people from realizing their own fate. On the backs of their own
drugged and enslaved souls does the kingdom prosper.
Until the arrival of Thasren Mein. Long ago exiled to the ice-swept
north, the Mein have prepared, schemed and waited. In a myriad of
guises, Thasren makes his way into Acacia and strikes the killing
blow, assassinating Leodan while the Mein support with savage
assaults all throughout the kingdom. But Leodan has already put
another plan into effect, one that will see his children safely
away, scattered to the four corners of the world.
Each of them will be with a solitary advisor or guardian. Hidden
from the Mein, Leodan hopes that his four heirs will find a way to
seek each other out and combine their collected knowledge into a
successful bid at salvation for all of Acacia.
In ACACIA, author David Anthony Durham has created a fantastic
world presented in exquisite fashion. This is a world with little
in the way of magic, so you need not fear wizards running rampant
with awe-inspiring power. Its main focus is more on what we
perceive as common problems --- slavery and drug addiction.
Granted, the use of pacifying agents to lull the people into foul
deeds is nothing new in the world of science fiction/fantasy, but
Durham uses it in a fabulous way, and it makes for a strange
juxtaposition that a king who would endorse and encourage what
could be perceived only as an evil act is at the same time a
compassionate and kind man.
Where Durham also succeeds is in keeping the line between good and
evil a very stark gray. Hanish Mein, the older brother of the
assassin and the lord of the Mein, is far and away the most
interesting and intriguing character in ACACIA. This is no
bad-guy-for-bad-guy's-sake stock villain; he is intelligent and
charming, and sometimes it’s difficult to see him as a true
enemy. Much of what is found is very symbolic of our own
tempestuous world, where even those we tend to see as bad, when
shown in the proper light, are working for their own perceived
Durham does not play the reader for a fool. He prefers not to spell
everything out for you and leaves some of the mystery in the
telling, dropping you into the story rather than you just reading
it. An example of this is when he recounts the journeys of the four
children of Akran. As they begin, Durham does not tell you "this is
Dariel's tale" or "this is Corinn's tale." You learn who
you’re following as the events unfold.
ACACIA holds a vast and fully developed world, one that
readers will get to know. Thankfully, two more volumes will be
releasing in the future. It is a world worth visiting and a land
worth exploring, and Durham is more than capable of weaving the
story and telling it to you. Intrigue, suspense, adventure. What
more could you ask for?
Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard on December 22, 2010