2 out of 4 stars
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We Are Voulhire: A New Arrival Under Great Skies by Matthew Tysz follows the journey of Galen Bray, a young man who escapes his war-torn home by ship. He hopes to start fresh in the prosperous land of Voulhire where he is set to inherit his great-uncle’s forge.
Galen’s story is interspersed through the main plot line that revolves around Lord Eldus. Appointed by the king to rejuvenate the rustic coastal town of Hillport, Lord Eldus sets out to remind the local people that they have not been forgotten by their king. In the process, he faces many challenges, from establishing a reliable fishing industry to removing the fears left behind by the former lord who used innocent people for his evil purposes. Rumors of the return of the notoriously vicious Riva Rohavi and the self-serving plans of a corrupt knight threaten to disrupt Eldus’s attempt to bring prosperity to Hillport, while an even greater evil lurks just off the coast of the struggling town.
The book starts out with a very medieval feel with castles, kingdoms, and a festival celebrating the prosperity of the land. The story flows pretty smoothly until you run into serval spots with very modern terminology used. For instance, in describing the layout of a nearby island there are knights practicing sword play and a “football field, complete with field goal posts.” There were also several instances where modern medical terms were used, characters spoke in modern slang terms, and one character was even referred to as “metrosexual.” The fact that these things do not typically coincide with stories that involve castles, knights, and magic was a bit of a distraction throughout the story.
Once I was accustomed to the mix of medieval and modern, I was able to focus on the story and found myself eager to push forward to find out how this tale would end. The author does a wonderful job with descriptions and setting the scenes for each character. There are several detailed descriptions of the skies above Voulhire each time a character was introduced, which fit well with the title of the book.
There were a few places with misuses of vocabulary and a couple choppy sentences but otherwise well-edited grammatically. I will caution readers that profanities and crude jokes appear throughout the book so I would not recommend this book for young readers or people who are sensitive to foul language. Fans of non-traditional fantasy, however, will enjoy the buildup to an exciting climax and an ending that leaves you ready to delve into book two.
I rate this book a 2 out of 4 because of the initial confusion I experienced about the uncharacteristic elements of the story and because of Galen’s lack of involvement in the main plot. He is the only character whose story is told in first person, which led me to believe he was the main character. He serves, however, as more of a background character who completely by-passes the climax of the book while on a separate journey of his own. I do however look forward to the next installment of this series because I would like to find out if Galen gets to play a larger role and how he will develop as a character.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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