Well, that much is correct. I am thinking that this is what somewhat derivative fantasies patterned on George Martin rather than Tolkien are likely to look like (Acacia: Game of Thrones :: Sword of Shannara : Lord of the Rings). More political intrigue, a darker moral world with many shades of grey, a grimmer arc of character development.
Acacia is not terrible, as far as these things go. But it sure could be a lot better than it is, and most of the problem comes down to the basics of the prose. And that in turn maybe comes down to a bad combination of missing editorial input plus the genre-fueled need to bloat fantasy stories up to 600+ pages as if the heft of a paperback is what establishes it as a part of the genre.
I though the exact same thing when I read Acacia. I would give it a B-. There is also some more positive assessment of R. Scott Bakker’s Prince of Nothing series. I agree that The Darkness That Comes Before (book 1 of The Prince of Nothing) is a more polished piece of prose than Acacia, though the trilogy was a bit anticlimactic. Also, Bakker’s work is original in that it has a noticeable science fantasy dimension, and one of the most richly texture portraits of malevolence which I’ve encountered in fantasy, and an extremely thick cultural and historical context.
H/T, appropriately, The Elf.