A Science Fiction story free of spaceships, aliens, and DRM
Mature Content Rating: PG for violence
OATH NUMBER ONE: I vow to never knowingly share with any non-Aliomenti human the unique knowledge, technology, and power of the Aliomenti.
OATH NUMBER TWO: I vow to never knowingly share with any non-Aliomenti human the existence of the Aliomenti.
OATH NUMBER THREE: I vow to never enter into a committed relationship of any type, most notably marriage, with any non-Aliomenti human.
OATH NUMBER FOUR: I vow never to be the biological parent to any child.
I hereby state my understanding that any humans involved in the breaking of the Four Oaths shall suffer death at the hand of an Aliomenti assassin.
Every society has certain laws that are morally particular to the society around them. Generally speaking murder, thievery, rape, and chasing kids with shotguns are considered unacceptable by society. Despite this, wrongs occur every day in varying degrees (for instance, I haven’t seen that shotgun wielding lunatic in a while) and every poor choice has a consequence. Alex Albrinck has developed a secret society where knowledge of and general fraternisation with outsiders is forbidden. This may not seem that out of the ordinary (as far as secret societies go) but disallowing marriage and child-bearing isn’t often on the “Thou Shalt Not” list. Will Stark, a self-made multi-billionaire philanthropist, is happily married and a proud father. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but he is mistakenly suspected of being an Aliomenti and thus must serve the consequences. An assassin has come to kill his family.
Right out of the gate, Albrinck throws the reader into the action while we watch Will Stark fighting for his life and the life of his family. If you generally put a book down for it being too slow out of the gate, A Question of Will will give you no problems there. The first third of the book reads more like an action-adventure with a sci-fi focus that leaves just enough draw and mystery to keep the reader engaged.
The Point-of-view use in A Question of Will was very intriguing. It starts out as your standard third person perspective with chapter/section breaks splitting things up when the POV changes, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes the words just flow and all of a sudden you notice that the POV had changed. It is wonderfully and sometimes subtly done in a way that did not feel slapped together or disorienting. For the amount of books that I have read with major POV-confusion issues, I was impressed at how Albrinck has a good handle on the proper way to implement multiple POVs, and do it well.
The tech/magic in A Question of Will is wonderful. All Aliomenti have a certain “Energy” reserve, and the more Energy you have, the more you can accomplish. There are many things that this Energy can do, and I have a feeling that we have only seen the tip of the ice-burgh in this first instalment of The Aliomenti Saga. I will not comment on specifics, however, so as to not spoil any of the goodies therein. Despite the fact that the source of the tech/magic is mundanely named “Energy,” at least it wasn’t some crazy 16-syllable word that no one will remember. I will leave the decision to you whether calling it “Energy” is wonderfully simple or just lazy.
Now, we get to the selling feature of the book. (Maybe I should have mentioned this first! 😉 ). A wonderful twist comes in the last third of the book that made me so excited I just had to finish it right then and there! I was a little bit afraid that certain plot elements introduced at the beginning of the book would be left unexplained, thus forcibly roping the reader into a sequel, but this fear was quelled and made me no longer waiting for the revelation but longing for more. The ending is set very well, leaving just enough unanswered to wet your whistle for the sequel, but answering enough to give it a concise and believable conclusion.
Despite how good this book is, and the fact that it start right into the action, I was less than impressed with it at first. The initial action, though exciting, is drawn out by the variety of POVs. The quick changes doesn’t leave the reader confused (per the norm) but instead forces re-explanation of things that have already happened. The reader sees the assassin coming for Will Stark, then Will sees it, then his wife dreams it, then the assassin does it, then the police witness it… etc. Once getting past the initial third of the book, this problem is no longer prevalent, but the beginning is left a little rough and uninteresting because of it, despite all the action happening.
There is quite a bit of tech/magic in A Question of Will and it is explained very thoroughly, so thoroughly in fact that entire paragraphs can be skipped in order to prevent getting tired of the long, drawn-out monologues. The reader is not left questioning any of the inner workings of Energy, but it comes across in a very “tell” instead of “show” kind of way. Have you ever had a friend explain to you the rules of a game, but they are so complicated that your eyes glaze over during the rant and you really don’t get what he is saying at all? Finally, you throw up your hands and say, “let’s just play, and if I have a question, I will ask.” This will probably be your response as a reader while your eyes glaze over words of meaningless explanation in favour of saying, “If I have a question, I will ask.” The problem is that Albrinck isn’t around to answer your questions… so I guess you have to read the boring description of the tech/magic anyway, or just go without. Once everything is out on the table it picks up again for the satisfying conclusion, but the second third of the book drags a lot because of this over-explanation problem. I hope that in subsequent books in The Aliomenti Saga that this problem will be eliminated as “Energy” has already been very thoroughly explained, in perhaps more depth and detail than was necessary.
A Question of Will might not grab you at first, but it is worth sticking with until the end. Sloshing through some repeated scenes and dry tech/magic explanations will be well rewarded by a conclusion that makes you want to go out and buy book two of The Aliomenti Saga right away. Despite some pacing issues, the story is rewarding enough to make Alex Albrinck an author that you won’t soon forget, and might want to come back to with books 2 and 3 in this series.
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