I Was A Middle Aged Writer

July 31, 2010

Book Review: Act of Will

Filed under: Reviews,Uncategorized — danielrdavis @ 1:04 pm

Well, the book may have been named Act of Will, but it didn’t take one to read it.

But let me elaborate.

Act of Will is a novel by AJ Hartley. It’s about an actor and playwright that gets forced into the mercenary adventuring world when he’s accused of spreading rebellion and immorality through the Empire with his craft and has to flee the place he calls home. He takes up with a group of adventuring mercs and is plunged into a dark plot by unknown forces when they take on the job of investigating and stopping a mysterious army of raiders who seem to appear and disappear as if by magic.

The pacing is great. The story hits the ground running and doesn’t stop. I read at night and I had a hard time putting the book away to go to sleep. The characters for the most part are heroic and true to the end. I say for the most part because the main character, Will Hawthorn, starts out as a very self-serving character whose only interest is in keeping his own fat out of the fire. Through his dealings with the honorable warriors he’s become tied to he begins to grow and we get to see this happen throughout the story.

The action is excellently done, and you can’t help but to read faster as the action scenes drive you on. Even the “downtime” of the characters flows, not dragging or bogging you down into slow spots that might make you put the book down for any length of time.

Will Hawthorn is a witty, smart-mouthed, humorous character who grows as a person, kicking and screaming at times, throughout. I couldn’t help but to keep reading to see what was going to happen to him next. If you like the witty and sometimes biting humor of some of Pratchetts characters you’ll love Will.

Honestly, about the only bad thing I can really say about the novel is that there are places where you can tell that some of the story comes from an RPG campaign. This was admitted by Hartley on another forum. However, it reads more like normal everyday self-serving guy gets thrust into a campaign with a group of noble and stalwart adventurers and has to deal with it. Adapt, run, or die.

Still, Hartley does a great job of making these characters come to life and making it more about the growth of the main character and budding friendship between him and these mercenary adventurers he’s been forced to travel with, than the campaign style “pay you to rid the region of the raiders” scenario. But even with that, there are still hidden agendas, intrigue, heroism, and battles aplenty with a bit of magic tossed in for good measure.

It was an enjoyable read and I can’t wait for Will Power, the next in the series, to hit the shelves.

If you want a better idea of what the character is about check out AJs post on Magical Words. And check out the entire site while you’re there. It’s a great resource for writers.



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