Book review of David Anthony Durham’s Acacia
I approached Acacia with a general good feeling – David Anthony Durham has been hailed as a bright new name in fantasy literature, and I tend to enjoy fantasy by authors with a background in history. I’ve never read any other works by Durham, but I was excited to enter a new world from this author.
The largest problem with Acacia for me was the characterization. The main characters are royalty, and really children of royaly at that, which you don’t see as the focus of large fantasy novels, for the most part. That given, it is a noble effort to try to take on such a task; fleshing out believable adolescent characters who are part of the upper crust of the food chain. Unfortunately in Acacia, I was unable to connect with the characters and really believe the world they were involved in. I was unable to avoid contrasting the characters in Acacia with another fairly popular cast of royal teens in current fantasy literature: namely the Starks from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. When stacked up against Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran and Rickon, Aliver, Mena, Corinn and Dariel just don’t cut it.
Acacia does contain some wonderful world building, and Durham’s ability at describing different scenes and worlds is top notch. There are a few different societies in Acacia, and Durham does a nice job of bringing the surroundings to life.
What this adds up to is mediocre at best. Bland characterization paired with great description leads to a big novel with characters you don’t care about. This makes a novel especially difficult to get through, and for this I believe I put Acacia down on two occasions and flew through other books in the meantime. I just couldn’t bring myself to swallow Acacia in one gulp.
This raises an interesting question: does an unengaging novel cause the reader to put it down sporadically (therefore devaluing the experience), or do other external factors in one’s life that cause a reader to put down a novel at random intervals cause the novel to seem unengaging? Personally, I think it was the former for me, but I do consider this type of question when putting together reviews.
Unfortunately for me, Acacia didn’t deliver the goods as an engaging epic fantasy. It can be a rough ride when you don’t feel for the characters in a novel, and the paperback version of the novel is over 750 pages. Rough ride indeed.
You can purchase Acacia over at Amazon.com.