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The Other Lands: The Acacia Trilogy, Book 2
David Anthony Durham
Doubleday, 465 pages

David Anthony Durham
David Anthony Durham was born in New York City in 1969 and he grew up in Maryland. In 1994, he received a Full Fellowship to the MFA Program at the University of Maryland College Park. He wrote his first two novels during the program, Cicada and August Fury, both unpublished. He graduated in 1996. In 1999, while living in France, he wrote Gabriel's Story which was a New York Times Notable Book, a Los Angeles Times Best of 2001 pick, and a Booklist Editor's Choice. It won the 2001 First Novel Award from the American Library Association's Black Caucus, the 2002 Alex Award and the 2002 Legacy Award in the Debut Fiction Category. Beginning in 2005, he taught at the Stonecoast Low-Residency MFA Program, and during the 2006/2007 academic year he was the MacLean Distinguished Visiting Writer at The Colorado College. He recently accepted a position as an Associate Professor in the MFA program of California State University, Fresno.

David Anthony Durham Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Acacia
An Interview with David Anthony Durham

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Greg L. Johnson

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The Other Lands In Acacia, David Anthony Durham introduced us to a mighty empire, kept in power through a terrible, hidden secret. That empire suffered a sudden invasion, but the invaders soon found themselves unable to end Acacia's secret. In addition, the royal family was scattered throughout the Known Lands, each child forced to find a life on their own. Acacia's story focused in on the story of the children as they grew up and made plans to regain an empire.

By the beginning of The Other Lands, that has already happened. Corinn has gained the throne and become Queen, and she has plans to restore and expand Acacia's power. As her siblings become pawns in her schemes, two problems loom. One, Corinn has come in to possession of a magic artifact that grants her great power, but she doesn't know how it works or what the price for using it might be. Second, by sending her brother Dariel as an emissary to the Other Lands, she has helped to trigger events that will lead to the most horrific invasion Acacia has ever seen.

In many ways, Corinn emerges as the most interesting character in The Other Lands. The contradictions in her personality are marked by the contradictions in her use of power. With one impulse she calls forth water to relieve a killing drought, with another she readies a new, even more effective way of controlling the lives of her subjects. It's a conflict that ties her part of the story directly in to the underlying themes of the consequences of the use and abuse of power, and what happens to those who forget the lessons of history.

That's a lesson that some, but not all, of the characters in The Other Lands have been forced to learn by the end of the book. No doubt there are more lessons coming for those characters who are still pursuing their own ambitions and interests, and if the story so far is any indication, those lessons will be dramatic, personal, and unexpected.

Two-thirds of the way to completion, The Acacia Trilogy is set up for a grand conclusion. The invaders are on their way, Acacia's rulers plot against the people while the people plot against them, the League of Vessels plots against everyone, and the main characters are all intimately involved in events that are changing their lives. History is being made, and if there's one clue to be had from the story thus far, it's that those who best understand their own have the best chance of surviving what's to come.

Copyright © 2010 by Greg L. Johnson

Books like The Other Lands have reviewer Greg L. Johnson wondering about the similarities between writing science fiction, fantasy, and history. His reviews also appear in the The New York Review of Science Fiction. And, for something different, Greg blogs about news and politics relating to outdoors issues and the environment at Thinking Outside.


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