Monday, September 15, 2008

Giveaway! Acacia by David Anthony Durham

I have wanted to do a giveaway of Acacia by David Anthony Durham for awhile and I finally have an extra copy to pass on! From the Washington Post: The Akaran royal children in David Anthony Durham's thrilling Acacia bear a passing resemblance to the scrappy siblings from C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Aliver, heir to the throne of the Known World, worries that he doesn't have the stuff to be king; Corinn, his sister, is beautiful, deceptively shallow and adept with a bow and arrow; Mena, the younger sister, is courageous and astute; and Dariel, the youngest, tends to wander off where he shouldn't. But the world that Durham has created for them is far grimmer, and far more sophisticated, than Lewis's charming Narnia. From the first pages of Acacia, Durham, a respected historical novelist, demonstrates that he is a master of the fantasy epic. He quickly sets out in broad strokes the corrupt world that these unwitting children have been raised to rule. For 22 generations, the Akarans have presided over the empire of Acacia. And for 22 generations, they've sent a yearly shipment of child slaves to mysterious traders beyond their borders, "with no questions asked, no conditions imposed on what they did with them, and no possibility that the children would ever see Acacia again." In exchange, the Akarans get "mist," a drug that guarantees their subjects' "labor and submission." I give nothing away when I say that this empire is doomed. In the opening pages, an assassin from the Meins -- a "bickering people" from the frozen North, "as harsh and prone to callousness as the landscape they inhabited" -- is on his way to the capital city with his sights set on King Leodan, the children's kind and hapless father. The Akaran children must flee their sumptuous palace for hostile country, with no god-like lion poised to give his life for theirs. The Acacian god, the Giver, has forsaken them. Durham sacrifices nothing -- not psychological acuity, not political complexity, not lyrical phrases -- as he drives the plot of this gripping book forward. The names of people and places sound as if they've been recalled from a dusty past, not cobbled from J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth, a far too common practice among fantasy writers. Tropes that sound outlandish -- "dream-travel," for one -- are credible in Durham's telling. And the story always surprises. Characters that seem poised to take center stage are killed abruptly. Evil often triumphs. The rickety supports that grand empires rest on clearly fascinate Durham -- the long-time advisers who have grown resentful, the client states that fake their willing submission, the trading monopoly that sees profit in regime change. And the Akaran aristocracy is deaf to the rumblings beneath them. Hanish, the clear-eyed leader of the Meins and architect of the coming disaster, relishes their complacency: "Better that his coming shock them to the core and leave them reeling and grasping for meaning, too late to recognize the true shape and substance of the world they lorded over." When the empire falls, it does so quickly and horrifically. Palace guards and household servants slaughter their masters. The Meinish have allied with the Numrek, "screaming, stomping, mirthful agents of carnage," who cut a gruesome swath through the land. Plague strikes the Acacian army, and its soldiers sweat blood and "lay prostrate in writhing intimacy with the earth." The dead are past counting. But as exciting as all this is, the collapse of the Akaran empire is only the beginning of this grand tale. Aliver, Mena and Dariel, raised anonymously and separately in quiet corners of the fallen empire, become warriors eager to redeem "the rotten heart of Acacia," while Corinn, a captive in the palace where she grew up, plots bloody revenge from within. How will it all end? If the first volume of this projected series is any indication, in brilliant -- and brutal -- defiance of fantasy conventions. Does that sound great or what? (I haven't finished the book yet-- but what I have read is exceptional). To enter, the rules are the same as usual. Either leave a comment here or send me an email at sqt1969(at)gmail(dot)com under the header "Acacia." I will randomly pick a winner on Tuesday September 30th. Be sure I can get reach you easily. If I cannot reach a winner within 48 hours I will pass the book onto another entrant. Open to everyone. Good luck!

9 comments:

Wilson said...

Sounds like an interesting read - the passing resemblance to CS Lewis's books are slightly jarring, but maybe because we just saw part 2 the movie ><

Charles Gramlich said...

Does sound interesting, but since I just won a book don't put my name in the drawing. Let some others have a better chance.

GFS3 said...

Well, this sounds like a good book. Count me in!

Alan said...

That does sound like an interesting read and I must say, nice review! Got me interested, then again that's probably not too hard since I love fantasy in general and especially fantasy that doesn't obey the standard rules. Sign me up! My contact details are on the Contact page of my blog.

The Real Deal said...

Throw my name in the hat, please!

Dave-Brendon de Burgh said...

I would love to have a US edition of the book! :-) Enter me, please! :-)

Rob said...

Please enter me into the drawing.

Erika Hamerquist said...

I've read it and own it in hardback, but it's so dang good I want me another copy if I kin git my mitts on it, so please sign me up. Erika Hamerquist (whose mother taught her better, but alas ....)

Sarah said...

I'm reading it in Italian, but it would be nice having it in English. Count me in, please!