Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Pg. 69: David Anthony Durham's "Acacia"

Today's feature at the Page 69 Test: David Anthony Durham's Acacia.

About the book, from the author's website:

Leodan Akaran, ruler of the Known World, has inherited generations of apparent peace and prosperity, won ages ago by his ancestors. A widower of high intelligence, he presides over an empire called Acacia, after the idyllic island from which he rules. He dotes on his four children and hides from them the dark realities of traffic in drugs and human lives on which their prosperity depends. He hopes that he might change this, but powerful forces stand in his way. And then a deadly assassin sent from a race called the Mein, exiled long ago to an ice-locked stronghold in the frozen north, strikes at Leodan in the heart of Acacia while they unleash surprise attacks across the empire. On his deathbed, Leodan puts into play a plan to allow his children to escape, each to their separate destiny. And so his children begin a quest to avenge their father's death and restore the Acacian empire — this time on the basis of universal freedom.

Acacia is a thrilling work of literary imagination that creates an all-enveloping and mythic world that will carry readers away. It is a timeless tale of heroism and betrayal, of treachery and revenge, of primal wrongs and ultimate redemption. David Durham has reimagined the epic narrative for our time in a book that will surely mark his breakthrough to a wide audience.

Among the praise for Acacia:

"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."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Treachery in the throne room, princes in hiding, ancestors reaching from beyond the grave, wars of succession — this is a novel that Shakespeare would have loved. David Anthony Durham is rebuilding epic fantasy from the ground up. There are books that you visit for a vacation and then there are books that you live in. Get ready to have your mail forwarded to Acacia."
--James Patrick Kelly, Hugo Award Winner

"It's the rare novel indeed that overwhelms and absorbs us to the point that we live fully within it. I read Acacia in four long wondrous days, unable to leave the book. Durham has created a world so familiar and distant at once that the reader is transported and transfixed — the braiding together of this world through numerable plotlines is effortlessly accomplished and compelling, with magnificent prose that illuminates crisply and cinematically. Acacia is full of wonders, brought to us by a masterful writer, a wizard of mind and place."
--Jeffrey Lent, author of In the Fall and A Peculiar Grace

"Something genuinely new from the author of historical novels about the black American experience (Gabriel's Story, 2001; Walk Through Darkness, 2002) and the Second Punic War (Pride of Carthage, 2005).... The novel's strong echoes of Homer and Virgil, Tolkien, Norse mythology's Twilight of the Gods and America's compromised history as a republic built on slavery fuse into an enthralling, literate and increasingly suspenseful narrative."
--Kirkus (starred review)
Read an excerpt from Acacia and more about it and David Anthony Durham's other work at his website.

David Anthony Durham is the award-winning author of the novels Gabriel's Story, Walk Through Darkness, and Pride of Carthage.

The Page 69 Test: Acacia.

--Marshal Zeringue