The Sacred Band
Book Three of the Acacia Trilogy
By David Anthony Durham
(Doubleday, Hardcover, 9780307739681, 576pp.)
Publication Date: October 4, 2011
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With the first two books in the Acacia Trilogy, Acacia and The Other Lands, David Anthony Durham has created a vast and engrossing canvas of a world in turmoil, where the surviving children of a royal dynasty are on a quest to realize their fates—and perhaps right ancient wrongs once and for all. As The Sacred Band begins, one of them, Queen Corinn, bestrides the world as a result of her mastery of spells found in the ancient Book of Elenet. Her younger brother, Dariel, has been sent on a perilous mission to the Other Lands, while her sister, Mena, travels to the far north to confront an invasion of the feared race of the Auldek. Their separate trajectories will converge in a series of world-shaping, earth-shattering battles, all rendered with vividly imagined detail and in heroic scale.
David Anthony Durham concludes his tale of kingdoms in collision in an exciting fashion. His fictional world is at once realistic and fantastic, informed with an eloquent and distinctively Shakespearean sensibility.
David Anthony Durham received the 2009 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer of Science Fiction for Acacia and The Other Lands (the first two volumes of the Acacia trilogy). He is also the author of the historical novels Gabriel's Story, Walk Through Darkness, and Pride of Carthage.
Praise for The Sacred Band:
"The Acacia trilogy soars.... The knock against heroic fantasy is that much of it devolves into a simplistic story of good vs. evil set against a backdrop of pale reflections of feudal Europe. But the best examples, like the grandly sprawling Acacia trilogy by David Anthony Durham, serve as a powerful rebuttal of this criticism. His final volume, The Sacred Band—following Acacia (2007) and The Other Lands (2009)—provides a deeply satisfying conclusion to an ethnically diverse series in which Durham has proved just as comfortable exploring the uses of power as conjuring up strange magic.
Acacia is part of the Known World, existing between northern aggressors and southern sorcerers. At the center of a story covering more than a decade stand four heirs to the legacy of murdered Acacian emperor Leodan Akaran.... [Dariel's] many adventures, including exploration of a mysterious abandoned city, evoke the best of classic swords-and-sorcery. Meanwhile, fans of fantasy battles will enjoy following Mena as she heads north with an army to repulse the primary threat to Acacia, the semi- immortal Auldek people. A midair fight between Mena’s bird-dragon and another creature also results in a breathless and riveting scene. Queen Corinn, however, occupies the center of The Sacred Band.... Readers may not always like her, but they will never forget her."—Jeff VanderMeer, Washington Post
"Durham brings his sci-fi Acacia Trilogy to a satisfying close. Samuel R. Delany meets Cormac McCarthy meets J.R.R. Tolkien as the striking and subtly powerful Corinn Akaran settles into queenship over the Known World just in time to take up arms with the Other Lands.... [Durham] takes time to paint scenes in words that other writers might brush away...and [his] pages are full of thrilling action that would do Tolkien proud. A close, yes—but with wiggle room for more Acacian adventures. At any rate, on the strength of this installment, Durham’s many fans will be clamoring for more."—Kirkus Reviews (starred)
"This triumphant conclusion to the Acacia trilogy vindicates Durham's resurrection of a major character in 2009's The Other Lands. Corinn Akaran, queen of Acacia, used her ever-growing magical powers to revive her brother Aliver to aid her defense of her kingdom. But there are no simple resolutions to the challenges facing Corinn and her siblings, and the gap widens between the means she employs and the ends she pursues. Durham provides a graphic and chilling look at how far Corinn is willing to go to advance her cause as she brutally massacres opposing armies, and that's just the beginning. A smooth plot, Corinn's well-developed character, and Durham's stellar prose and rich imagination will have many traditional fantasy fans hoping for future books set in this turbulent world."—Publishers Weekly (starred)
"The conclusion of Durham's trilogy...ties the threads of these separate stories unto a satisfying climactic world-changing battle. Strong writing, intriguing characters, and a richly detailed background—along with the possibility for future development of Durham's scenario—make this fantasy epic a winner for those who enjoy large-scale fantasy along the lines of George R.R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series.—Library Journal
Durham’s sprawling epic fantasy trilogy comes to an end with this final volume. ... Readers who began the Acacia trilogy with the first book, when the Akaran siblings’ father was overthrown by a warlord, will find themselves immersed in this absorbing, far-reaching conclusion and the many story lines it wraps up."—Booklist
"[The Sacred Band] made for a wonderfully fun, often surprising, but never forced reading experience that I hope others will see as progressive as well, since Durham's voice is one that epic fantasy needs."—Fantasy Matters, http://www.fantasy-matters.com/
"The final pages bring full circle the promise of the earlier volumes, making The Sacred Band one of the most satisfying and fulfilling epic fantasy conclusions that I have read in recent years. The Sacred Band is easily one of the best 2011 epic fantasy releases and it is one that I highly recommend to readers here."—The OF Blog, http://ofblog.blogspot.com/
"There were moments during The Sacred Band when...I was transported back to
summer days in the non-air conditioned house of my youth with no diversion beyond
the book in my hands. In that regard, the book and the trilogy proved transcendent to me.... As fantasy epics go, the “Acacia” trilogy is a direct and worthy descendant of Tolkien."—Drew Gallagher, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
“Provides the best of both worlds: epic world-changing conflict and touching character-centered story. What else could you possibly want?”
—Patrick Rothfuss, author of The Wise Man’s Fear, a #1 New York Times bestseller
Praise for Acacia:
“A truly epic fantasy . . . with a rich world and nuanced characters. Superbly written.” —Fantasy Magazine