Acacia, by David Anthony Durham, is a surprising and satisfying piece of literature. It has strong characters, intriguing plots and effective prose. While it does suffer slightly from an absence of semantic rhythm and there are some issues with character motivation, it still tells a story worth reading and leaves you hoping the legend will continue.
The story begins with an assassin setting out on a mission. He is of the Mein race and we quickly get the sense of what these people are like: single-minded, proud and oppressed. His mission is to kill Leodan Akaran, King of Acacia, the oppressor of the Mein’s and ruler of the Known World. Akaran’s chancellor, Thaddeus Clegg, is in league with the Mein’s and is ready to watch Acacia fall due to a grudge he carries against Akaran family.
The assassination of the king takes place via a poisoned dagger. Prior to his death, the King asks Thaddeus to put into motion a plan they’d devised in their youth in the event that Akaran was ever killed. His four children were to be scattered in order to protect them. Moved by love for the children he’s helped raise, Clegg repents and carries out the plan. Acacia falls, and years later the old chancellor begins to gather the children and other loyalists together again. We are taken to each of the lands the children had been whisked away to and through bits of local legend and descriptive prose we learn much about the different kingdoms that had been under Acacian rule. Clegg now tells them of their father’s plan. By now, they should be ready to reclaim his fallen kingdom.
Meanwhile, Hanish, the leader of the Meins, also has plans to gather the children together - only his desire is to spill their blood and thus release his ancestors on earth again to right a plethora of ancient wrongs. The children of Akaran and the Meins eventually collide, along with ancient wizard-like beings, in a climax that is very different than expected.