4 out of 4 stars
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Fantasy is an established genre and one of the most popular, too. Accordingly, it is difficult to come up with something new that its audience can appreciate and accept. Fortunately, We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies does not disappoint. It is everything I would look for in a fantasy novel. Matthew Tysz has created a captivating world in his book, and, with a storyline simmering with mystery, this read becomes enchanting as well as thrilling. With its multi-dimensional plotline, the author has tactfully crafted a tale that encompasses rivalry, treachery, greed, revenge, politics, and, most importantly, magic.
Galen Bray leaves his war-torn nation to escape to Voulhire with the help of Rowan, who is the executor of his uncle's will. Now, Galen is eager to rebuild his life while cherishing the riches that the prosperous Kingdom of Voulhire can offer him. Meanwhile, the kingdom is rapidly progressing towards a bright future. The king, Wilhelm Arcolo, desires to steer his kingdom towards great glory. He appoints Lord Eldus Alderman to work for the development of the State of Hillport and restore it from its subverted state, left behind by its two former lords. Will King Wilhelm and Lord Eldus be able to achieve their goals? Especially, when the danger of an attack by a group of rebellious insurgents, Riva Rohavi, looms over the kingdom. While the group has not been active for a long time, it has been known to re-emerge out of the blue. But is Riva Rohavi the only danger facing the kingdom? Or something eviler lurks within the premises of its own land, waiting for the perfect opportunity to shatter its stability. When magic and mages are not unknown for a kingdom, how does it put up a fight against these forces that are beyond the control of the physical realm?
This is the first book in the series, of which two other successive books are already out. With the introduction of Galen Bray in the opening chapter, it seemed like he is the main focus of the story, but I was surprised to find that many other characters come into play throughout the book and the main action revolves primarily around the kingdom and the menace threatening its peaceful atmosphere. Perhaps, Galen Bray and the elaborate background of all the other characters form the foundation for a tale that is going to unfold in further installments of the series.
Readers get to relish an engaging story with this book. Besides, the author supplements the action with the mystical element of the unknown, as he introduces the world of magic, Caromentis, to the readers. However, the inclusion of this appears as a sub-plot in-between the soaring tension of the main plot. Furthermore, the subjects of unsparing politics and power struggle are also explored through the means of the characters involved in the administration of the kingdom. One of them is Midius Maido, who happens to be the Lord High Chancellor of Voulhire and a ruthless opportunist. I liked the use of these underlying themes to carry the plot further.
The narration is in the third person for the most part, except that of Galen Bray, who is narrated in the first person. The alternating viewpoints may bother some, but it was quite okay for me, as all the chapters are meticulously separated from each other on the basis of characters and the switch between viewpoints never takes place in the middle of a chapter. In my opinion, the author's writing style delivers an immersive reading experience and magnifies the dated backdrop of the storyline, which is loosely interrupted a few times to provide some much-needed background information. The contrasting attributes of the characters make the story even more dimensional. For instance, Rowan's coarse language and discourteous attitude never get to the point of making him look like a standoffish person, rather it becomes just another interesting facet to his character. The humble and grateful Galen Bray, the dutiful Lord Eldus, the outspoken Rowan, the cunning and strategic Midius Maido, all seemed to fit together perfectly, in making the read realistic and believable. Moreover, Matthew Tysz's proficiency in worldbuilding shines through in his narrative of the fictional kingdom, as he develops a convincing account of its history, geography, and people.
The exceptional editing further adds value to the book. I found very few errors, and even those were insignificant. This one was a flawless read for me, and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for an enthralling read that is a cliffhanger right from the beginning to the end. However, as the build-up is slow here, I would only suggest this to those who can enjoy a slow-paced mystery. Fans of magic and fantasy should also consider it. Finally, strong characters, an engrossing story, a multi-faceted plotline, and excellent editing earn We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies a well-deserved 4 out of 4 stars.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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