Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Agony Column!

Joy, joy! Reviewer/blogger Rick Kleffel has posted a wonderful pre-pub review of Acacia: The War with the Mein and another novel. This is great news for me, as Rick is a heavyweight in this world and much respected. Thankfully, he liked my book a lot. Here's a little bit of what he said...

Durham's novel bristles with the joy and power of a historical novelist freed to create his own history. This is not the typical history of fantasy novels, though Durham assures us that he is quite familiar with all my favorites -- Gaiman, Herbert, Stephenson. What informs this novel and sets it apart is what made 'Earthsea' so special, a fully realized world of humans as varied as the usual elves, dwarves and whatnots. Well that, and an immense writing skill that brings a literary flair as well as lots of excitement to the novel.

Relief washes over me... Check the rest of it out here: News from the Agony Column.

By the way, the review starts off looking at another fantasy debut, The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. His book sounds good, too, and judging by the Amazon ranking it's off to a good start sale-wise. Besides all that, he seems like a nice guy in general - if you can tell such things from a person's blog!

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Blogger Scott Oden said...

Another great review! You're on a roll now, David ;) So, how much do you really sweat reviews? I've heard some writers say they could care less while others (me included) chew their fingernails to nubs in anticipation. Which camp are you in, or are you somewhere in the middle?

7:43 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...


Yeah, I'm somewhere in the middle. I do acknowledge that any review - even a bad one - is better than no review at all. And I've been fortunate so far with all the books. I've gotten better reviews than I could have hoped for.

That said, I don't take anything for granted. You can just never tell what somebody is going to say. I remember my editor with my first book being nervous about the Kirkus review. She basically said you can just never know what they're going to come up with. No way to predict, no matter how good a book you know you have. I mentioned this to my wife and she remarked, "Well, they can't be very dependable, can they?" A logical reaction.

What happened? Gabriel's Story got a rave, a starred review. A year later, though, they slated Walk Through Darkness, even throwing in a few indications that Gabriel wasn't really that good after all. And then with Pride of Carthage it was back to raving again. What will happen this time? I really don't know.

On the other hand I know a writer that only trusts Kirkus since they've always given her good reviews and the others didn't. So go figure.

I will say this about these early reviews - they have been a real relief. I didn't take it for granted that fantasy/sci-fi insiders would like my work, or that they'd engage with it with an open mind. So far they have, though, and it's been a great joy to hear them say that the book gave them pleasure and that they acknowledge the hard work I had to put in. As a writer, you can't ask for better than that. And that's enough to make the hand-wringing and fingernail chewing worth it, I think.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Gabriele Campbell said...

Ok, and when will the second book be out? I bet this one ends with all sorts of cliffhangers and leaves me chewing my nails. :)

12:05 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...


I'm happy to be able to say that Acacia doesn't end with a cliffhanger. In many ways there's a narrative arc that crashes to a conclusion by the end. I do think it leaves significant threads for the future, but hopefully people are going to WANT to read the next volume. It won't be a matter of they HAVE to read the next book in order to feel some resolution.

When will the next one be out? Right now I'm sticking to my May 2008 delivery date – that’s when I’ll have the book in to my publisher. So, if all that goes well I think we're talking a spring or summer 2009 publication. I would have loved to have had it done sooner, but I've been working a day job this year and that's slowed things down.

The third volume, though, I'd like to get in sooner, so that the second and third books will come out rapidly.

1:22 PM  

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