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Reviewed by Emilija Ryks for Readers' Favorite
A Force of Will by D.J. Wallace introduces us to the land of Nebula, where the young prince Will is preparing to engage in a rite of passage into manhood in which he must travel to a distant island to kill a monstrous, shape-shifting beast. Danger is not only present there, however, as his uncle is intent upon succeeding to the throne himself and has his brother murdered almost as soon as young Will is away. Warned by an apparition of his father and given aid by a spiritual creature, Will manages to outwit both the beast he was sent to kill and the guards intended to make an end of him. He is not out of the woods yet, though, since the craft he designs to take him home is attacked by pirates. He is sold into slavery and must make an escape from deadly chemical mines, only to encounter more danger at the hands of the castle alchemist.
The start of this book belies its final pace. It starts out whimsically, though you know something is going to happen, and then erupts into action and intrigue for the greater part of it. If Shakespeare had written science fiction, this would be the result. The world D.J. Wallace has created is unique and engaging, familiar but altogether wild in its differences. Getting about a quarter of the way in, I could see some definite resemblances to the bard’s most famous Hamlet, but this is not merely a sci-fi version of that tale. The dialog is witty and in the Elizabethan style, which may be a deterrent to some readers, but any fan of Shakespeare will enjoy the turn of phrase used. The descriptions are not as rooted in this style and are worth the read, even if you have a harder time with the dialog. A Force of Will stands on its own as an excellent story and, though not ending on a cliff hanger, definitely is well set up for a sequel.