ACACIA: WAR WITH THE MEIN by David Anthony Durham

ACACIA by David Anthony Durham I have a dangerous fascination with epic fantasy series. These days I’m pretty hesitant to start a new fantasy series, because I know I’m in for a pretty long haul–in the case of something like Robert Jordan’s WHEEL OF TIME series it’s decades long!

That being said, I never did get around to reading the second book in this series, and I don’t quite recall why. Maybe it was just weariness at the thought of reading another indeterminately long series, or maybe it was just that the series hadn’t been finished. Whatever the reason, I didn’t remember reading this book until I saw it on my list. I seem to recall a story about (and I haven’t looked up any plot summaries here) young royalty betrayed, and having to flee their homeland. (Only to return for vengeance/triumph in the later books, I assume.) There was some kind of barbarian invasion that seemed basically unstoppable. I remember a character stowing away in the hold of a ship, a trope which I seemingly never tire of.

And that’s it. That’s about all I remember. Funny thing about memory. I spent five to six hours reading this book, probably, and that all that I have left of it after about five years or so.

I don’t like speaking ill of books. I’d prefer to talk about the things that I really loved, but this book raises an interesting issue that I encounter from time to time. I do recall reading this book because I’d read high praise for it in one or two places. (I believe it even won an award or two.) I have this experience sometimes when I read a book that’s popular or gotten great reviews, and it just doesn’t click for me. There’s nothing wrong with the book, exactly, but it always leaves me with a feeling like I’m missing something. A punchline to a joke that I’m not getting. I have this feeling most often with Neil Gaiman, a beloved author, but whose work leaves me cold, somehow. It’s a strange feeling being out of step in that way. I can see the craftsmanship at work, but I can’t connect to it on some level.

Anyway, it looks like according to Wikipedia, the film rights to this series have been optioned. So, I think Mr. Durham is probably doing all right, my lack of love for his series notwithstanding. The kicker, though, is that the first volume in any of these fantasy series is all setup. There’s very little payoff plotwise, usually. It’s quite possible the second and third books in this series do amazing and incredible things. I may never know… or maybe I’ll pick up the rest of the series one day.

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