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4.1 out of 5 stars
Acacia: War with the Mein Bk. 1 (The War with the Mein)
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on 3 January 2012
I received this with some anticipation having read some promising reviews, and was eager to dive in and explore a new world.

Well, it was a bit like swimming in treacle and in the end I opted for skimming through the pages, slowing only when something interesting was happening - and that wasn't often until the last third, when the pace picked up again.

To be fair David has created an interesting world, with intriguing hints of the "other lands" beyond. He has also given us a cast of characters who are more complex than usual - the problem is, as others have commented, that we don't really get to know them very well - or find anyone to root for. It's all rather impersonal and I found it difficult to emotionally engage with any of them.

I will probably give the next one a go as I'm curious enough to explore his world - but at the moment the world is considerably more interesting than the characters.
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on 4 March 2010
Great book good read would have been 5star if i hadnt read 'a song of ice and fire' before it.
Otherwise a good read and I will def read the next Acacia book
One person found this helpful
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on 8 July 2016
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on 10 October 2015
Absolutely fantastic amaziing
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on 18 February 2013
It took me a bit of time to get into the book, which is not unusual when being introduced to a new fantasy world (also there was the stress). The first section of the large book dealt with a plot against a powerful ruler, an advisor who isn't all he seemed and a hidden foe emerging. It was stuff I'd read before. However the later parts, which start nine years later, were something of a revelation opening up the world, characters and plot. After establishing a world and quickly changing its order, the author wastes no time in taking the plot where it needs to go. There are two major regime changes, and details of at least 5 very different cultures/ways of life, all of them are given the space they need but none are dwelt on overly long.
The book not only follows the 4 Acacian heirs and those who serve them, but also the Mein who conquered the empire from the north and have generations of reasons to hate the Acacian dynasty. This is a story that has definite sides, but which shows the complexity of the situation, with each character having good reasons for what they do and how they are. Ancient, magical legends turn out to have truth in them, although it's clear that they have been retold and reshaped over generations to fit the agendas of the powerful. Early on the Empire is shown to be rotten to its core, a situation that the emperor regrets but doesn't get round to changing. The invaders may claim revolution, but their leader finds that his hands are tied by powerful and mysterious forces from the other side of the world, just as the previous emperor's were. The exiled heirs set themselves in opposition to the invaders and claim that they will truly change their father's empire (as he'd intended) but Corinn has seen the mechanisms of power and knows that nothing is quite so simple.
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on 23 January 2013
I was looking for a new epic fantasy and Acacia was extremely well-reviewed here on Amazon, so I thought hey, why not? Unfortunately the book was poor, and given its length I eventually gave up.

Let me start by saying that it's not terrible, which is why I haven't given it one stars. The story is acceptable, the world-building is a good mix of traditional and original, and it's clearly a very ambitious book. These things, however, are let down by two things: the writing and the characters.

The author has committed the two worst sins for character building: his characters are boring and they are inconsistent. The most interesting and likeable characters are the two youngest children, but so much time is spent jumping from POV to POV that we get to hear from them all too rarely.

The writing is something that a lot of readers don't care about, but I found it incredibly ham-handed - the use of words that the majority of readers won't know is annoying enough, but for me it was the pages and pages of description. I know this is fantasy, and I know there's a lot to describe, but the "show, don't tell" adage really applies here. We do NOT need the entire back story of every object the moment it first appears in the story.

Like I said, not a terrible book, just not a good one.
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Hype has a funny way of creating expectations in a reader's mind. Naturally, with critics calling David Anthony Durham's novel one of the best fantasy debuts of 2007, my expectations were quite high. Too high? I think not -- not with everything that's been said about Acacia: The War with the Mein. Nevertheless, I'm sad to report that this book, in my humble opinion, doesn't live up to the hype which was generated by the incredibly positive buzz surrounding this novel.

I feel bad about having to write a somewhat negative review about this one. As was the case with Brandon Sanderson's The Well of Ascension, Durham is a great guy and I really wanted to like Acacia. The near totality of the reviews I've read pertaining to this book -- online and in print -- make it sound as one of the best fantasy titles of the year. Hence, I was more than a little disappointed to discover that the novel suffered from a number of shortcomings.

My favorite aspect of Acacia turned out to be the worldbuilding. Indeed, David Anthony Durham created a fascinating universe, simultaneously traditional and exotic, which serves as a backdrop for his epic fantasy tale. His multiethnic cast, though not as well-done as Erikson's, is a welcome change to what has been the norm in the genre for years. The author's background in historical fiction is evident, thus allowing him to create an environment exuding a "realistic" feeling.

The prose is neat, and Durham paces Acacia adroitly. The initial premise and the ensemble of storylines woven together to assemble this tale are all very interesting. I found the plotlines involving the Lothan Aklun, the Quota, the Other Lands, the mist, the Numrek, the Mein and the Tunishnevre, and the Santoth to be absorbing. Those are the storylines that fueled my interest and urged me to read on. So where did it all go wrong?

What killed Acacia: The War with the Mein for me turned out to be the characterization. To say that they are lacking or leave something to be desired would be an understatement. For some unfathomable reason -- this is a first for me -- I absolutely hated all the main protagonists, good or bad. Throughout the book I kept hoping for the Arkan siblings -- Aliver, Dariel, Corinn and Mena -- to die. I kept wondering how Durham could come up with such an interesting setting, yet populate it with clichéd, two-dimensional characters that lacked a lot in the way of realism. Needless to say, I was unable to get into any of the siblings' storylines. As I mentioned in my review of Tad Williams' Shadowplay, it's decidedly hard to make royal teenagers likeable. Moreover, there were quite a few similarities between them and GRRM's Stark siblings. The fact that they achieve everything so easily, with all that's require of them falling into place perfectly, as if by magic, didn't sit well with me either. The supporting cast is a bit lame and unbelievable, which is what ultimately prevented me from enjoying the book beyond Durham's first-rate worldbuilding.

I found many of the concepts underlying the story to be engrossing enough to want to read the upcoming sequel. My only hope is that David Anthony Durham will up his game where characterization is concerned.

Acacia: The War with the Mein showed great promise. Unfortunately, poor characterization makes it impossible for this novel to fulfill its full potential.
11 people found this helpful
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on 1 September 2008
Solid fantasy outing, opening a promising sequence.

Beautifully written, reminiscent of Robin Hobb and George RR Martin, it depicts an easily relatable world, but from a refreshing perspective, and with an original pace.

It visits many fantasy cliches and milestones but feel like brand new. Some coldness in the very well drawn characters prevent a 5 star review.

Opening is slow but at the end of Book 1 of Acacia you will not be able to put it down until you know of the fate of Akaran heirs. It does keep up until the end.
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VINE VOICEon 10 January 2008
The author is a historian and has produced such books as "Hannibal - Pride of Carthage" and this is his first fictional novel. It is fantasy and quite a deep and complex one at that.

This features on a dynasty toppled by invasion. It is set in an environment and culture where slaves are sold to generate the provision and import of drugs. The first half of the novel covers the fall of the Acacian dynasty and the second (set some years later) covers the emergence of the surviving children as they seek to recover their birthright.

By nature the first half is slower and the pace really picks up in the second. This is well written and well paced. Interestingly the author avoids many of the traditional fantasy traps and lays the occasional false trail for us to follow. I also enjoyed the fact that there was no strong sense of good or evil or bad guys and good guys - it is all a matter of perspective in this one (much like real life and real history). The slave trade and drug taking is also handled in an interesting way, as the way things 'are' rather then being pushed as a bad thing.

Overall this is good and satisfying stuff and it suggests that the next element will be well worth the wait.
2 people found this helpful
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VINE VOICEon 16 October 2008
Having read David's Pride of Carthage I was quite looking forward to see what he would do with a fantasy setting. The book as you'd come to expect with David's work is well written, the characters crisp, the writing beautifully descriptive with a world full of shades of grey where no one is good or evil. It plays on all the best aspects from the fantasy world with political double dealing presenting readers with a fantasy nearly on the same epic scale as Steven Eriksons Malazan world. The one problem though, is the battle sequences, they don't seem to be fully realised in much the way that the rest of the book is as if bits and pieces have been taken out either as too fantastical or to keep the flow of things running for those not familiar with the type of battles presented within. It's a shame that it went this way as had a little more time been spent on that it would have made this a much better book. Still with around 600 pages, it's a good first effort in a fantasy world and will hopefully make readers sit up and pay attention to his work. Throw into the mix a story that leaves you with more questions than answers and a tangible threat for a following novel and I think that DAD has found a niche that will bring him fans the world over.
4 people found this helpful
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