2 out of 4 stars
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We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies is the first installment in the fantasy fiction We are Voulhire series by Matthew Tysz.
The novel opens with Galen Bray, a naïve youth seeking to escape the warring landscape of his native country. Through the invitation of his previously estranged uncle, Galen ventures to Magnum Caelum, a city in Voulhire, a land rife with political puppeteering and hidden secrets. Through Galen, we are introduced to Rowan and separately, the King Wilhem, Midius Maido and so on. Each character seemingly shares an intertwined destiny, belonging to at times opposing factions with different agendas and a willingness to go as far as possible to achieve those ends.
A New Arrival under Great Skies paints a world of intrigue and imagination. With twenty titled chapters, Tysz employs a descriptive narrative reminiscent of childhood fables and fairy tales hardened with a slightly macabre edge that’s aided by apt analogous elements. The story constantly bounces amongst the first-person perspectives of multiple protagonists whose relevance to the storyline is somewhat mysteriously unclear. This maintained the appeal of the book, utilized as suspenseful plot points, as there was no outright proclamation of a hero or villain and major story arcs were not revealed in one go. Irrespective of that, there were some characters who boasted three-dimensional potential, namely, Lord Meldorath. So saying, the novel lacked predictability and monotony, which added an extremely refreshing thrill.
I really enjoyed reading this book, mainly for its characters, or more specifically, the polarities amidst them. There was a definite contrast and through this contrast, one is invited to contemplate the multifaceted complexities of the human psyche. For instance, Galen, with his wide-eyed naiveté and impressionable personality versus the unapologetic, almost playful nonchalance of Midius Maido’s cruelty and hedonism, while the brash, near vulgar irreverence of Rowan fell somewhere in the grey area.
There were two factors that kept me from being fully immersed in the book. Firstly, the novel had a few grammatical errors. They appeared to be small, barely notable mistakes typical of any written piece, however, it still detracted from the overall presentation of the novel. It led me to think the novel was not professionally edited, though the writer is to be given credit for his above average work nonetheless. Secondly, Galen’s appreciable innocence quickly translated to an unfathomable sense of stupidity. Though Tysz justifies this with outwardly credible explanations, I’m still left pondering how little exposure Galen received in the Land of the Princes, a country with its own brutalities and harsh climate.
I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. I would recommend this book to readers searching for a vivid read, who aren’t squeamish and able to tolerate profanity. Those who are fans of mystery would also find this an interesting read.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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