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Acacia: War with the Mein Bk. 1 (The War with the Mein) Paperback – 26 Mar 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (26 Mar. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553819674
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553819670
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 383,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"David Anthony Durham has won acclaim for his historical novels, and brings his knowledge of the past and other cultures to create a rich and compelling world on his first foray into fantasy. His skilful storytelling, depth of characterisation, and an ability to unsettle reader expectations is reminiscent of George R.R. Martin, but his is a distinctive new voice" (Lisa Tuttle THE TIMES)

"Durham brings to mind Tolkien with the expert detail with which he's built his alternate land. This could be the arrival of a fantasy classic" (SFX magazine)

"Where this sort of thing really works is not just in the attention to detail, but the attention to character. And with its epic duels and mighty sea battles, the whole thing is suffused with a feeling of Greek myth and legend" (DAILY TELEGRAPH)

"He is a master of the fantasy epic...How will it all end? If the first volume of this projected series is any indication, in brilliant - and brutal - defiance of fantasy conventions." (WASHINGTON POST)

"Complex, multi-layered...a world whose history feels as real, complicated and unpredictable as our own...whose characters and events will be as real in the minds of his readers as history itself." (SFSITE)

Book Description

The bestselling historical novelist turns to epic fantasy with a powerful story of treachery, murder and revenge...

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
David Anthony Durham's debut in Fantasy is absolutely spectacular.

A writer of historical fiction, David has had ample time and practice to hone his craft. This is obvious from the first few opening chapters of "Acacia: The war with the Mein", from the bubbling tension to the perfect characterisation of even the supporting characters. In fact it takes a while to realise who the supporting characters are, as David has taken as much care developing them as the main "cast".

By the middle of part one, this is cleared up. The star of act 1 is one of the secondary characters--Leodan, King of the Acacian empire. Although many other, less capable authors would not have bothered developing a character they intended to die early on in the story, David seems to have bucked the trend and done the opposite. Why is this so important? Because the reader cares more about what happens to a guilt-ridden, disillusioned widower and father of four than just "a King". In fact, Leodan is a pivotal character in the entire book, despite appearing relatively briefly. Were he not so well written, I wouldn't have cared what happened to his children. Were he not so believable and remorseful, I wouldn't have cared what happened to the "Known World". Secondary characters are just as important to the enjoyment of a book as Primary characters, whether they have a huge effect on the plot or not.

One of the great things about "The war with the Mein" is definitely the characterisation. The protagonists and indeed antagonists do not stagnate (which is a good job, as the book leaps a 9 year gap between act 1 and 2), and being in totally different situations grow in different ways- no two characters are the same.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I got the eyes-up for this from an on-line list of the best 20 SF & Fantasy books from 2000-2009. This one would have to be counted as Fantasy. It was a bit slow starting, but I eventually got into it and rather enjoyed it. The 4 siblings reminded me a bit of the Starks & John Snow.
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Format: Paperback
Acacia is a novel which is epic in the broadest sense of the word, concerning the shattering and building of empires, across a large scale of time, and centred around a relatively small key cast of characters.

It is in this first area that Acacia does best. The world which David Durham has created is intricate, fascinating, and lovingly presented. The gradual revelation of each area of that world is handled well, and the reader is left breathless from the sense of grandeur and scope, and impressed by the background which interweaves each of the disparate cultures that are presented.

The book is written across a large piece of internal time; that time is not all present in the novel. The characters we will follow are introduced in the first half of the novel, and their fates left undecided - the reader is then re-introduced to those characters some years later. I enjoyed the abrupt nature of this change, exploring what were familiar characters, and reorienting my expectations from the character's actions, and the hints of their `missing time' gleaned from their interactions with others. On the other hand, some people may find this sudden jump in continuity more jarring than refreshing.

The characters are at once the greatest strength and weakness of the text. Each character within a faction has their own motives, and, as mentioned in other reviews, each faction of characters has their own point of view - Durham allows the reader to feel sympathy for one set of characters, and then swings to another viewpoint, and establishes your sympathy with those (often adversarial) characters instead. While some characters are less ethical than others, each has a valid point of view, and Durham tries hard to get us to understand it.
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