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Acacia: The War With the Mein

Posted by Rob L Code On Friday, May 21, 2010

We have received quite a few requests to review ACACIA: THE WAR WITH THE MEIN, and we decided that we should probably honor those requests. We ARE very kind and giving, after all. Yeah, we know the book isn't a new release, but it seems a shocking number of people haven't read it. Luckily, our good buddy Rob was all sorts of anxious to do this review, and you all get to benefit. Enjoy--EBR.


Is your George R.R. Martin starting to sag? Do you still love his epic storyline, but hate the wait? Do you find yourself wondering if there will ever be a way to get that same gritty, edge-of-your-seat sensation without waiting years (or is it decades?) for character and plot progression? What if we told you it was possible? And what if we said that you could get it on-time? Early, even? That you could have twice the Martinesque, twice as fast? You wouldn’t believe us, would you?

Believe (feel free to drop a "hallelujah").

We've got what you need right here—and his name is David Anthony Durham.

A well founded writer of historical novels, Durham’s skill at crafting realism, culture, characters, and conflict is outstanding. He’s transplanted the richness, grittiness, and complexity of our world into The Known World of Acacia in the same way George R.R. Martin transplanted the intrigue and fullness of the War of the Roses into Westeros. Durham, in fact, has written for Martin's WILD CARDS series, and is a big fan of Martin's style--perhaps this is why we see so many stylistic similarities. ACACIA: THE WAR WITH THE MEIN, the first book in the Acacia Trilogy (That’s right—only THREE books), has replaced all our angsty Martin-pining with hope for a new future. A future where series have, you know, endings.

The Empire of Acacia has held sway over The Known World for centuries, both through a history of backstabbing and racial subjugation, and by supplying its subjects with an opiate known as the Mist. Those years of peace come at a great price, however, and the bill’s come due in the form of assassins, vengeful nations eager to avenge themselves and their ancestors, and the greed and addiction bought by human lives. Leodan--Ruler of the Known World--faces these threats, and prepares his four children for a plan that will preserve them and guide them towards a united world, free of its vices and vicious enemies.

David Anthony Durham won 2009’s John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. He deserves the recognition. His story is epic and diverse, while his prose (while lacking at times) can be beautiful and poetic. He stepped up to the plate for the first time (in the fantasy genre, anyway), and hit one out of the park. With the second book in the series already released, we’re thrilled to get our hands on a work that’s so thorough, so involving, and so riveting, with a sequel already available.
And while Durham’s admitted, “I could be happy writing in this world for a long time”, he’s also promised, “there will be at least three books and a reasonable amount of closure by the end of that cycle.”

Closure. That’s right, Martin fans, we’ll throw in the closure for free. Go pick this novel up, and while you are there, grab the sequel THE OTHER LANDS. If you are looking for a novel about nations in war, with that almost-Historical Fiction feel, this is the novel for you.

Recommended Age: 16 and up.
Language: Mild--Unlike Martin's Westeros, this world has no idea what the 'F' word means.
Violence: All sorts of violence. Durham seems to be a student of historical war, and it is accurately and vividly represented here. It is detailed, but not overly graphic.
Sex: Yes, but not gratuitous.

Go take a look at Durham's website:


  1. Brett Said,

    Fresh meat on EBR! Thanks for putting your time into writing a review. While I wholeheartedly second your recommendation of Acacia, I think you do Durham a disservice when you imply he is simply aping GRRM. I didn't count, but I think there might be as many references to Martin as Durham.

    Posted on May 21, 2010 at 2:34 PM

  2. Daniel B. Said,

    Good pick, guys. I read this a year or so ago, and I've been eagerly awaiting the sequel (now i've got to find time to read it). Glad Durham is starting to get the recognition this book deserves.

    Posted on May 24, 2010 at 8:49 AM

  3. Tony Said,

    I don't believe it! Durham is nowhere near Martin's awesomeness! Not by miles and miles. He's okay but come on! His characters have it so very easy. They transition from abandoned children to heroes with almost no effort. Except maybe for the eldest daughter.

    Durham's good but Acacia pales, no fades to near invisible, in comparison to Song of Ice and Fire.

    Posted on May 25, 2010 at 1:22 AM

  4. Rob L Code Said,

    Wow--there are some great comments here. Right off the bat, however, there are some things everyone should know!

    First, know that we, well I anyway (I suppose I can't speak for our other illustrious reviewers) have nothing against Martin! A Song of Ice and Fire is fantastic, as well as the Wild Cards Universe (whatever author--Martin Edits the majority of the works, and Durham's even contributed to the series), and this particular reviewer LOVES Martin's "The Way of Cross and Dragon". Genius stuff. I ache to return to Westeros.

    Second, it's true. Durham ISN'T Martin. Thank goodness! That's said without any derision for either party. There are things I love about each work, and the two have their differences--each their pros and cons--but there are far more similarities. The point is that Durham is in a similar vein: Richly historic-laden heroic fantasy. It may not have that same young-boy-pushed-out-the-window grittiness, but SPOILER ALERT: Around half of the POV characters are dead by the end of the book. We may not get to see much of the young lives of the heirs . . . but even Martin intended to skip a few years for the Stark children to mature.

    All in all, the point here--well made by each poster--is that Durham's Acacia is fantastic, much as Martin's Song. Most will favor Martin (and why not? His series is more complex, gritty, lengthy, and established.), but as any true fantasy lover knows: Only a fool would let a truly good story pass them by, just to wait years for something better.

    A Song of Fire and Ice is epic--no doubt. And when A Dance with Dragons is released, we'll be among the first to snatch it up. But that doesn't make Acacia any less enjoyable.

    Posted on June 1, 2010 at 10:08 PM


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