After being betrayed by his adviser, Leodan sends his four children to different parts of the Known World, where each must find their way. Aliver (the heir), Corrin (the effete princess), Mena (the athletic younger sister) and Dariel, the youngest boy, try to find their own way in this world turned upside down by the treacherous Mein, who have their own axe to grind and history to overcome.
This epic fantasy novel, the first of a trilogy, is quite the sweeping introduction to this world of Acacia. Written much like GRR Martin's fantasy series, where each chapter is told from a different point of view, Durham's book manages to maintain its speed over much of its sprawl. Each of the four children has their own point of view show, as well as the leaders of the Mein and a few other from the crumbling Akaran dynasty.
It's not a bad book or a bad setting. The world is fully fleshed out, including the sordid secret of the Akaran empire - it is balanced on the backs of slave labor and "The Quota", whereby children of the empire are kidnapped and shipped off to an unkown race over the sea. This race also has overtones of GRR Martin's mysterious race from the north, where you are sure there will be a great conflict soon.
I enjoyed the book and will look for the second in the trilogy, which is, I think, due soon. It was a little derivative, and the 'hook' of slave labor and child kidnapping seems hardly new. And the characters were based too closely on fantasy archetypes and some of the plot twists at the end were a little hard to swallow. But the story basically rang true and I'm looking forward to revisiting the Known World.