4 out of 4 stars
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We Are Voulhire: A New Arrival Under Great Skies is the first of three books available in this science-fiction series written by Matthew Tysz. It is a fast-paced story exploring a 2,000 year old society trying to preserve its kingdom through benevolence to its subjects and by rooting out insurgents.
The tale begins with a singularly pure of heart and kind twenty something named Galen who inherits his great uncle`s forge in a small town named Magnum Caelum located more than week`s boat journey away from his war-torn island, on the adjacent mainland named Voulhire. He exhibits characteristics which endear Galen to the reader such as chivalry, generosity, courage, and eagerly welcoming new opportunities. Galen`s guide, Rowan, who also assists in restarting the forge business, comes to appreciate Galen`s company more and more as he gradually aligns his own life`s values more closely towards those of his friend Galen.
The parallel story intertwined in this land of Voulhire is that of King Wilhelm`s ruling style which included emptying the palace vaults of gold in order to successfully stimulate private business, ignoring the major personality defects of those close to him including the assumed heir, his son Darius, and defending the kingdom from insurgents such as the long maligned Riva Rohavi people and Meldorath.
What I liked most about this book was the creative assortment of modern settings such as tall metal buildings, and its 21st century conversation style of language mixed together with the emergence of the first automobiles driving their way through horse-drawn carriages. In this setting of a quickly modernizing society, physics is referred to as magic and assumed to provide the basis for an entire separate, yet accessible, magical world named Caromentis. Part and parcel of both citizens managing their own affairs and of King Wilhelm`s ruling ability is the delicate balance of relying on this physics/magic by mages, who are experienced practitioners. The other aspect that I really enjoyed was how fully the characters were developed since the logic of their actions and their personalities were consistent with the continuation of the plot. This helped significantly in my rooting for Galen and even King Wilhelm at times to conquer their challenges. These many strong features kept my interest high and with relatively few typos present, I have rated this work 4 out of 4 stars.
What I liked least was the much more thinly developed motivational reasons of various secondary social groups such as the Mianoran Council, the priests of Eiodi, and even the Riva Rohavi of whom not much was explained beyond knowing that they were the ancient outcasts who were committed to being a scourge on the kingdom.
I definitely recommend this first book of the Voulhire series for readers who appreciate a fresh and creative approach to science fiction where a society seems to be grappling with how to integrate the development of physics as quickly as possible. The plot also has broad story narrative appeal due to its focus on the internal struggles of its main characters to find the best result for the circumstances they are faced with.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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