Durham (Gabriel’s Story, 2002, etc.) 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. “We’re at war,” she says, matter-of-factly. And war it is, with supposed allies turning tail and threats of invasion putting a decided downward cast on the scene. Corinn is a tough cookie, but she nurtures an abiding hope that her son, Aaden, will prove himself as “the greatest Akaran monarch yet.” Naturally, opportunities abound for him to show his stuff. Meanwhile, Corinn’s brother Aliver is on hand to help, having miraculously come back to life after having been killed in the second installment. (“You were dead before,” says Aaden. “Exactly,” replies Aliver. “I like you better alive,” responds Aaden, having thought the matter over.) Durham is a master of the swords-and-sorcery genre, with the bonus that this is swords-and-sorcery with spaceships that give the Millennium Falcon a run for the money; the trilogy, this volume included, tends to be talky, but it’s the right kind of talky, without wasted words. He also takes time to paint scenes in words that other writers might brush away, as with this description of a book-filled library: “Tall windows cast elongated rectangles of red-gold sunrise light, but the room’s candles still burned, thick ones that jutted through the tables like tree trunks and burned with flames the size of spearheads.” That’s a world worth fighting for, and Durham’s 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.