Thursday, December 31, 2009

"The Other Lands"

David Anthony Durham is the award-winning author of the novels Gabriel's Story, Walk Through Darkness, Pride of Carthage and Acacia: The War With The Mein, and winner of the 2009 John W. Campbell Award.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his latest novel, Acacia: The Other Lands, and reported the following:
Page 69 of The Other Lands opens with the end of one scene. Mena Akaran has been hunting “foulthings” – the mutated creatures unleashed by the corrupted sorcery the Santoth used at the end of Acacia: The War With The Mein. Each beast is its own particular monstrosity, and Mena has been having quite a time of finding and destroying them.

That’s the backdrop, but as page 69 begins she is wrestling with a different idea. Her lover, Melio, has made it clear he wants set up house with her as soon as all this monster slaying is over. Mena’s not sure what sort of mother she’ll make, or if such domestic bliss will ever be part of her future. Confusion over this lingers with her throughout the book, mostly because life keeps throwing things at her that require her warrior side. Here, she pushes the idea to the side and stays focused on the work at hand…
There was always work to be done. Or so it had felt for months now. Finally, though, it looked as if there might be an end in sight to this war against the foulthings. As far as she knew, there were only two left to face. One in Halaly, one across a large swath of hill region of northwestern Talay. Reports of the latter were scattered and unreliable. The word coming out of Halaly, however, was specific. And dire. It was to that once-powerful interior tribe that she pushed her band once the tenten creature had been vanquished.
The focus then shifts to her first night at the Halaly court of the chieftain Oubadal. Readers of the first book might remember that Aliver had found this man a conniving, hard-nosed power broker in the first book. That was then, though. Now his people are suffering and he needs help…
Oubadal let others tell the tale through a chorus of voices. At first, they said, the thing had been but a rumor. Two years ago fishermen on the western edge of the lake had started telling tales of large aquatic creatures that would appear to eat the fish they already had on their lines, sometimes shredding their kive nets to get the small, silvery fish. There had been many of them, they said, but as they grew larger and easier to spot – their back fins cresting the water when they attacked – their numbers began to drop.

Once they found a carcass washed ashore, a hideous thing longer than a man was tall, like a fish but none that they had seen before…
If you read on to the next page you’d learn that one of the creatures had grown enormous. It was dangerous, yes, but the real problem was that it was sucking the life out of the lake, threatening the Halaly with financial ruin. That’s the kind of mixture of the fantastic with real world possibilities that interests me. Yes, there is a monster, but the monster’s real harm comes from the way it’s upsetting the economic viability of the Halaly nation. It’s the tiny kive fish – and all the trade that comes from it – that creates their power. But with this monster devouring every living thing in the lake they’re on the edge of ruin.

Oh, and one other thing… That mention in the quote up above of one last foulthing in the hill region of Talay is the first mention of a being that’s comes to have a major effect on Mena and on the Known World.
Read an excerpt from The Other Lands, and learn more about the book and author at David Anthony Durham's website and blog.

The Other Lands is one of Amazon's top 10 Science Fiction & Fantasy books for 2009.

The Page 69 Test: Acacia (Acacia, Book 1).

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue