Friday, April 30, 2010

Ex Libris: David Anthony Durham's Acacia

This one's going to be a short review.

It's not everyday that I fail to finish a book. And it's not everyday that I actually lose steam at the beginning of the book. But that's what happened when I started with David Anthony Durham's Acacia, his first book of The War with the Mein.

I really wanted to like this book. I've heard great reviews about it, citing how he'd managed to reinvigorate the usual fantasy tropes. And given that his previous book was a fictional retelling of Hannibal of Carthage was well-received, I thought that someone coming into the fantasy genre using his experience in writing a historical novel would be interesting.

So, how come the book didn't work for me? Maybe it was the writing style: blocks and blocks of paragraphs describing what characters were doing to the point that even the dialogue was kept down to a minimum. (An example is the scene in chapter 2 where the tutor Jason tries to steer the class of the four royal children in the right direction.)

I suppose I have a problem with that, wherein characters are described saying something rather than being presented with the actual statements being made (he said, she said, etc.). Also, a lot of the narrative involves the author describing what the characters are feeling and thinking.

This could explain the blocks and blocks of paragraphs. And unfortunately, there is a certain tedium on reading a story-- especially one of fiction-- and it's just the author's voice telling the story rather than the story letting itself be told.

So rather than keep trying, I have to pass on with this one. Alas, I have too many books on my to-read pile and I'm getting too old to work on text that I find a struggle stylistically to begin with. This one's just not for me, I'm afraid. (Rating: no paws.)

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