Welcome back to the Known World where the Akaran family is once again in power and looking to expand its influence across the globe. We pick up the story line nine years following the conclusion of book 1 with the themes of revenge, expansion, and forgotten pasts moved to the forefront. We once again experience a bit of a slow burn in the first half of the novel, but Durham really pushes on the gas peddle for the second half and sets up book 3 with a shocking conclusion. This will be a spoiler free review, but I will be touching upon events that take place in book 1.
Let me start with the prologue, we are briefly introduced to a set of siblings trying to avoid capture from The League as part of the slave trade with the Lothan Aklun. This chapter will tug at your emotions and will play a big role later in the story. Queen Corinn now sits on the Acacia Throne after being forced to married Hanish Mein and ultimately killing him when his sacrifice attempt failed. Corinn did however become pregnant and now has a young prince to look after. Corinn has read from the Song of Elenet and now possess her own magic to use as she sees fit, but even all of these magical powers can’t stop the people of the Known world from planning a revolt. This is due to the withdrawal of the drug which has plagued the land for decades. Wanting to expand her influence, Corinn decides to ask The League to help her seek an alliance with the Lothan Aklun across the sea and she is sending prince Dariel as an ambassador. As part of this alliance, Corinn is hoping to bring the drug back to the known world, even if it means starting the slave quota again and going against the dying wish of her brother Aliver.
Mena is off journeying about the country searching for tainted creatures affected by the Sanoth unleasing their magic on the Mein army in book 1. Her task giving to her by the Queen, is to eliminate these creatures as they are declared unholy. Eventually, she discovers a dragon-like creature and is captured by it. Once in the dragon’s lair, Mena notices that the creature is injured and that it has several eggs waiting to be hatched. Mena decides to care for the creature and to bring it back to the capital as a weapon. Dariel is the final character I would like to discuss. When we last saw Dariel in book 1 he was a pirate laying destruction upon The Leagues Platforms in the middle of the sea. The League has not forgotten this episode and has its own plans for Dariel when they cross the sea. Once across the sea, Dariel discovers that the Lothan Alkun have no interest in an alliance and the several tribes have their own plans for an invasion of the Known World and the reconquer the territory that was once theirs. Dariel becomes involved in a series of events that made me what to come back for more as we learn all about this foreign culture through his eyes.
It is difficult to talk about this book without giving away the plot, but I wanted to talk about the feel and flow of The Other Lands. Book 1 felt like a slow burn with the ultimate goal of bringing the siblings back together to accomplish their goals of defeating the Main and establishing some form of peace. The Other Lands is the complete opposite approach of separating the siblings and the building on tension and unrest across two continents. Revelations are made throughout the course of the story into the origins of the Lothun Alkun and their tribes, what they are looking for, and what ultimately they end up doing with the slaves they receive from the Known World in the drug trade. What I liked most about this story is that all characters are morally grey but you can understand the reasoning behind every decision made even if you won’t agree with it. This is a testament to Durham’s writing style and beautiful but descriptive ways of show the scene to you. I wouldn’t say he is overly descriptive like Robert Jordan at times, but I would lean more towards a Tad Williams given how much I love his prose. Everything in The Other Lands will serve a purpose whether you agree with the outcome or not and Durham will not shy away from the hurtful gut punch from time to time.
The Other Lands is a solid sequel in the Acacia Trilogy and it only builds upon the wonder story David Anthony Durham has written. The world is unique, mysterious, and down right brutal with the moral implications of how any society and sink into chaos. I hope you have enjoyed the journey so far because the ultimate battle will soon begin.