3 out of 4 stars
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“The only discipline the people of Virko observed was industry.”
Scarcely a few days in the great land of Voulhire, Galen Bray is still finding his feet in his new home. When the mayor of Magnum Caelum informs him that the town – and Galen’s blacksmithing business – is in dire need of iron, there seems to be only one course of action. Galen and his friends, Rowen and Demetrius, immediately set out to Virko, hoping to secure at least the promise of a steady supply.
While Virko is a town of industrial and political strength, the people there have moved away from both magic and religion. On his deathbed, the town’s founder, Lord Venden Hrelek leaves Virko on the cusp of a new social structure.
The transition seems to begin smoothly enough; however, a great evil lies in wait. In exchange for the iron they need, Lord Hrelek asks Demetrius, Rowen and Galen to help his son, who he fears is somehow connected to this evil.
We are Voulhire: The Fires of Virko is the second book in Matthew Tysz’s We are Voulhire series, and as such follows much the same structure and style as the first novel. Alternating focus between the various characters, the chapters are written in the third person, barring those which Galen narrates from the first-person perspective. This style allows the reader greater insight into the motives of each of the characters and vastly adds to the reader’s immersion in the story.
For the most part, the author’s immense talent for writing shines through his choice of diction, strong characters and the depth of the world he has created. The writing flows so smoothly that I did not want to put the book down. However, unlike the first book, each time I did put it down, I did not feel much compulsion to pick it up again.
What I liked least was the seemingly unnecessary use of vulgar and profane language. Scenes containing such language, while not plentiful, were enough to break the flow and could easily have been worded differently. Moreover, upon each appearance of the biomage, the diction becomes rough – almost an assault to the senses. This may have been by design, but it did not make for pleasant reading.
My favourite features of this novel were the rich characters and incredibly detailed world-building. The author has undeniably put great effort into his world. From science to religion, politics and magic, he has not neglected even one aspect. Often in the fantasy genre, authors will place a heavy emphasis on only one aspect. Tysz has fully developed them all, and this is highly commendable.
Due to the nature and quantity of the typographical and grammatical errors, I would say that it is unlikely that this book was professionally edited. It is worth noting, however, that there were fewer errors than in the first novel.
I would recommend this book to adults who enjoy a well-crafted fantasy world and a thoroughly immersive reading experience. Due to the profanity and vulgar language, as well as the exceedingly graphic and potentially psychologically traumatic nature of some scenes, this book is not for sensitive readers.
All in all, I enjoyed this novel, yet not quite so much as the first. While perhaps equally gripping, it seemed to lack that hook to reel you back in again. I remove one star due to the number of errors and would like to remove another for the unnecessary vulgar and profane language, yet 2 stars is surely too low a rating for work containing such detail, thought and planning. I thus award We are Voulhire: The Fires of Virko 3 out of 4 stars. Despite my slight disappointment following the exceptional first instalment in this series, I will be sure to read the next one, We are Voulhire: Someone Else’s End.
We are Voulhire: The Fires of Virko
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