Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
At a memorial service meant to honor the dead and mark the beginning of a truce between Skirfall and Morcia, Ackley spies a figure who does not belong—a mage interrogator whose presence will only cause harm should the Morcians realize who he is and all the people he has tortured. But the problem rapidly grows much worse than that when Ackley realizes his true purpose is assassination of the Morcian crown prince—an assassination Ackley prevents, but at great cost.
Banished from his own country, bound magically to the crown prince of his enemies, Ackley is certain of just one thing: whether he can figure out how to break the spell or not, his death is assured.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fantasy lover, and “Battle of Will” promised to be an interesting story. And the story was interesting, but it did also have some flaws that spoiled the experience at times. The first 60% or so were really intense, with a lot of action, mystery and intrigues. You never knew who you could trust and who was orchestrating the assassination of the royal family. I was honestly astonished that the whole mess got resolved so early on and felt like the rest of the story was a little drawn out. I did enjoy the whole “studying magic” process, but it was a bit much.
I think Beorn was a great ruler and a very likable character. So many fictional royals seem to not want to be rulers, but Beorn never struggled with his heritage and the responsibility it comes with. He was very level-headed and I think he’ll make a wise king. Ackley was also a great MC. He’s very intelligent and I loved how he wasn’t in the least bothered by Beorn being a crown prince. It didn’t change his attitude toward Beorn in the least.
As much as I liked the two MCs individually, I just didn’t feel the romance between them. For the most part of the book, there’s no hint of any romantic or sexual attraction whatsoever. Not
between the MCs, not between anybody else, neither present nor past. It almost felt like the author was halfway through this great Fantasy novel and then realized she forgot all about the
romance. The feelings just come out of nowhere and took way too long to surface, considering Beorn and Ackley were forced to be in very close proximity 24/7 for months. There aren’t even
any past lovers or the most fleeting attraction to anybody to indicate the sexual preference of our MCs. Honestly, the book would have been better without the romance. It was kind of
The other big complaint I had was the lack of depth. We never learn why Morcia and Skirfall have been at war for years now. We really only learned the very basics of the our MCs’ pasts. I
still don’t know how Beorn came to be the last of his line. What happened to his mother? And how did Ackley become the bodyguard of a Skirfallan prince? And what exactly led to him losing
that job again? The world building lacked depth as well. We get a lot of magical theory with really intricate spell diagrams, but I’m still unclear on how you actually go from a complex to
drawing to making magic.
Just like the romance, the epilogue felt like an afterthought. A bit like the author forgot to incorporate a sex scene, so she added an epilogue for some smut. Overall, “Battle of Will” is good, but not great. It’s a solid high fantasy novel with a rather flimsy and unnecessary romance.
The cover by maderr is a little simplistic but I do like it, especially the old-fashioned font.
Kindle Edition, 427 pages
Published December 30th 2013 by Less Than Three Press, LLC (first published
Note: This story is part of LT3’s Serial Fiction line