Rating: 4.25 stars
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Ackley has spent his life fighting for and protecting the Skirfall crown. When he is released from his duty before a memorial to honor the dead on both sides of the war and also to note the beginning of peace between Skirfall and Morcia, Ackley can’t help but be a bit suspicious of his former charge, the Skirfallen prince who has a chip on his shoulder after the death of his brother. When the Morcian prince, Beorn Ealdwin, arrives, Ackley is quick to jump in and save him as a Skirfallen mage casts a spell to harm him. In attempting to save Ealdwin, Ackley inadvertently binds them together when the spell backfires.
Beorn is certain that he can’t trust Skirfall, therefore he definitely cannot trust Ackley, but the mage is bound to him until they can find a way to break the spell. Taking Ackley back to Ellwood, the capital of Morcia, is the last thing he wants to do, but he has no other choice. Upon arrival, Beorn discovers a plot to kill him by any means necessary. Beorn also learns his father’s health has deteriorated and he was not informed of it, making him not only look like a bad child but an incompetent ruler.
Facing the council and standing up to their accusation is only part of Beorn’s worries. When a series of murders happens under his nose involving magic that is outlawed in Morcia and he discovers that his father’s sickness is not what he once thought, Beorn has no choice but to turn to the one person he never thought to trust, Ackley. Ackley detests being bound to Beorn, but will do what he needs to until he can figure out how to break the curse binding them together or find the mage who originally cast it. In the meantime, protecting Beorn is at the top of his list as Ackley’s life depends on Beorn’s as well.
When the mystery at home begins to unfold, Beorn and Ackley must work together to uncover a plot close before they can break what binds them together. But as time passes and the men learn to trust one another, their futures seem more uncertain. Will Beorn live to be king? And if the curse is broken, what does the future hold for a mage banished from his country who allied with his enemies? Can Ackley see himself staying in Morcia or will he accept his exile overseas?
Gah! This story is hard to summarize. I promise what I just wrote for you is not even half of what happens in this book, but I couldn’t figure out how to say it all without giving everything away. Battle of Will is a book full of story, full of plot, and full of imagination. It’s definitely a story that kept me on my toes. There is so much to this book, yet this author did a really good job of keeping everything organized and not muddled.
The world Miller creates in this book is vast and colorful. It’s a world of magic and mages. The rules of this world shape the countries, the characters, the war, and the story as a whole. It’s not a dark world, but it does have a dark feeling at times. It’s really a great one.
The romance of this book takes a backseat to the storytelling in this story, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Had Ackley and Beorn fallen in love quickly it simply wouldn’t have been believable. I will admit, at times, to wishing they’d like one another quicker. The relationship building starts at loathing, growing into tolerance, which leads to a mutual goal of working to stay alive that turns into trust and friendship and eventually into growing feelings. I love these two – their stubbornness and attitudes keep them butting heads until it aides them in their course of working together.
Like I said, I am a fan of this book and the writing is really good. The only thing that caught my attention and niggled a little was the repetition of phrases. For example, stifled. I can’t tell you how many times this author used “stifled.” Characters “stifled a sigh,” “stifled a scowl,” “stifled a thread of panic,” and “stifled a smile.” I could probably go on, but I won’t. You get the point. Usually, I can overlook a few times, but this was used a little too often.
All in all, I adored this story. It’s exciting and mysterious. The characters and the relationship building are wonderful. The small quibble I have didn’t keep me from enjoying the book, it only niggled a little. So, with that being said, I recommend Battle of Will by Sasha L. Miller.