4 out of 4 stars
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A New Arrival Under Great Skies, the first book of the We Are Voulhire series, follows the stories of several different characters across the fantasy world of the author’s creation. There is an immigrant from a war-torn country adjusting to life as a blacksmith, a noble assigned to a city with a troublesome past, a king trying to lead his country to reformation, an evil mage imprisoned for the time-being, and many other stories. The connections between these stories are thin, and sometimes even tangential, but I trust that as the series continues the stories will become tightly woven. The overall story arc focuses on a kingdom that is recovering from untold horrors brought about by an evil mage, and former advisor to the king, called Meldorath. Officially, Meldorath has been executed, but nobody believes this. The mage is actually being secretly imprisoned, but he is so powerful that he will not be imprisoned for long. Voulhire, the main setting, is a prospering country, filled with resources and riches. The neighboring islands, the Lands of the Princes, are not doing as well. Before the book began, the king gave each of his sons an island to rule over to stop them from plotting against him. Instead, the princes started a civil war. The islands are a nightmare, full of war and bloodshed. One of the protagonists, Galen, lived in these islands until the death of a distant relative granted him a forge and a ticket to Voulhire. This is just a glimpse into the world that Matthew Tysz has intricately created and the stories that await.
I enjoyed this book so much that it is hard to decide what I liked about it most. The tone and prose was well done, and the opening chapter was especially well done. The author’s twist on the different categories and legalities of magic were fresh and something new in a genre often filled with tired tropes. The many different stories kept me guessing on when and how they would intersect. Overall, the feature of A New Arrival Under Great Skies that I liked best was the treatment of women. Many fantasy series mistreat women or give them only minor roles for the sake of realism. However, realism has little place in a world with magic like the world in the We Are Voulhire series. In the books, women can be mages, knights, or anything else they may wish in this series, which was refreshing compared to many other fantasy books I have read.
This book came with few flaws; the part that I disliked the most was how many characters and separate stories I had to keep track of. A simple glossary of people and any other important aspects or terms placed at the back of the book would remedy this problem.
I would rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. This book was masterful in both idea and execution. I found this book more enjoyable than several other mainstream fantasy books I have read. I would fully recommend this book to all of my family and friends, or even anybody that enjoys fantasy books. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
Anybody that enjoys reading fantasy books would love the We Are Voulhire series. However, due to the language used and some events and themes in the book, an older audience may better suit these books, than a younger one.
This book was exceptionally well edited and very professionally done. I found only one spelling error while reading it. It is clear that those responsible for editing the book paid close attention to detail and that they are experienced with writing.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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