4 out of 4 stars
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In the second book of the ‘We are Voulhire’ series the tale of magic interweaving with the physical world continues. After reading the first book, I expected a great continuation and I must admit that the author surpassed my expectations. The story starts as if it never ended, with the king of Voulhire holding a court session. He receives yet another reiteration from one of his loyal followers, Lord Venden, where he asks for permission to create a new way of ruling, making the city of Virko Venden Hrekel governs the first to be under the control of a captain appointed by king, rather than the control of the lord of the city. In the end, the king agrees to this, making Virko the first city to be run by merchant rule.
Virko is a city that was made out of ruins and abandoned land. Within twenty-five years it became a leading force of industrialism. Everything in it is run by money, something that people of Virko have come to accept as normal, even raising their glasses to capitalistic approach. They claim whatever they can, and what they can’t, they buy. When they acquire all of the iron, leaving nothing for other cities, one of our protagonists is left with no choice but to go to Virko to ask for iron so he could forge it and keep his late uncle’s smithy alive. Galen Bray, the refugee from the Land of Princes, now a newbie blacksmith goes to Virko with two companions, Rowan and Demetrius; a man who helped him know Voulhire and Magnum Caelum where his smithy is, and a monk from the Yamon Soul which they hired to appraise a mysterious ore they found in the first book.
In Virko there are people used to wealth, they scorn the church because when did the church help them? Everyone knows of the ill lord’s son, Hans Hrekel, a recluse buried in his books. What they don’t know, and what our protagonists will soon find out through Hans’ father and old friend Kayden, who is familiar with Demetrius, is that he plays with dark forces and is fascinated by death, demons, and strategies. A demon bound in the cellar, a book on dark magic, all in the wrong places.
On the other hand, this book introduces us to a new character and a new realm which is said to be just a tale. In Yamon Soul, the city of faith characteristic for its liberal approaches to religion, the Eiodi, the head of the city and the church, is trying to discover the secrets of Alitheia, the spirit world, as opposed to Caromentis, the dimension of magic. He is certain that Alitheia has unexplored depths and could be used to heal people, as the healing spells could accelerate someone’s death if used wrongly.
Meldorath, the mage considered to be dead to the world but was banished to an isle near Hillport city that underwent a great tragedy under the hands of Riva Rohavi, a terrorist organisation that resides in The Graylands under Meldorath’s control, is ambitious. Meldorath can reach anywhere with his magic, as he had long ago discovered secrets of Caromentis and principles of magic that were thought to be shallow with the help of a Caromentis dweller. A maniac, a mad scientist, or just a man of his own beliefs he is, but nobody understands him, not even his mentor who is a biomage even though that is forbidden. Laws don’t mean much when you’ve got power.
Matthew Tysz shows us the country and citizens of Voulhire in the other light in the second book. Greed and money, lust and betrayals, jokes about death and enjoyment in the suffering of the others is something that characterises this book. There are gory descriptions of death, torture, the loss of future and hope. Machinations of a deranged mind satisfied to watch from far away are peerless, and cannot be stopped because, after all, he is a strategist.
'We are Voulhire: The Fires of Virko' is a book worth reading, one that brought the quality up a notch and I can say that it was hard for me to read it without internal conflicts of my own. What I liked the most were the intricate tales of the characters, while nothing put me off. I give this book the rating of 4 out of 4 stars, the one it deserves. There are minor mistakes, but they are negligible. To be honest, this book is not for the faint of heart. However, if you’re ready for tension, gore and painful descriptions and images, go ahead and read this, then raise a glass in this masterpiece's honour.
We are Voulhire: The Fires of Virko
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