Durham's stellar writing stands out in what is certain to be one of the best books of the year. It delivers everything readers want -- intrigue, betrayal, great battles and romance. The plot is multilayered and beautifully constructed, interwoven with fascinating legends. The characters are ethnically diverse, conflicted individuals, neither all good nor all evil. All told, this is a brilliant beginning to a new series.
King Leodan Akaran, the ruler of Acacia, dotes on his four children, who have no idea that their prosperity comes from slave trading and drugs. The subjugated people, especially the Mein, hate Acacia. When an assassin is sent to kill Leodan, the Mein declare war. As Acacia falls, the royal children are hidden, and they embark on separate destinies, culminating in a quest to avenge their father's death and regain the Acacian empire. (DOUBLEDAY, Jun., 592 pp., $26.95)