2 out of 4 stars
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We Are Voulhire: A New Arrival Under Great Skies by Matthew Tysz starts off the four-part series with suspense. It is a book filled with conflicts of faith, science and magic and has a highly unique and lovable cast that makes it impossible for you not to get lost in its world. Although this book tailors strongly toward a YA fiction group, it is also suitable for older audiences who are looking for an easy read. However, as much as I really wanted to like this story, there were a few too many issues for me to be able to recommend it to anyone else.
It begins like a fairy tale with the escape of Galen Bray from his oppressive, war-torn country to the prosperous land of Voulhire. He is eager to start in the new business that he inherited and to show his newly adopted country his deepest respect and gratitude. Meanwhile, the Riva Rohavi, a rebel group that was once a source of great suffering and fear for Voulhire, are gathering in numbers. The leaders of Voulhire are faced with the struggle of continuing the country’s rapid development and keeping guard against the Riva Rohavi as well as one of their prisoners detained on an island to the south of the country who is perhaps one of the darkest, most powerful magicians in history.
Although this book has so much potential, I just could not connect with it enough to call it a worthwhile read. Though it is true that the characters are unique and vibrant, there just is not enough character development for me to become invested in their success or well-being. Galen Bray, for example, is humble, diligent and comes from a sad backstory. People want to root for him. But rather than fleshing out his character further, he takes a backseat to his friend, Rowan, and Galen’s development stagnates despite his experiences in Voulhire. Furthermore, the story moves at a snail’s pace. Things do not start to pick up until the last few chapters. The text is also in dire need of a professional edit as the text is riddled with mistakes. Even the name of a character was once butchered so badly that I thought it was the introduction of a new character. This only resulted in disillusionment and pulling me out of the story. To top it all off, the story ends on a cliffhanger - as most series novels do - but due to the lack of development mentioned earlier, I felt that this story did not deserve its cliffhanger and would have been better with at least a bit of closure.
Despite all this, I must applaud the author on creating such diverse, well-rounded characters. The dialogue is also very punchy and believable and the world itself is beautifully crafted with a complex culture and history. It is a place that sucks you in and lingers with you even after you have finished the book.
All in all, I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. While I personally really wanted to like this book, there were too many errors and shortcomings. The ending was disappointing and the plot did not advance fast enough for me to want to seek out the sequel. Moreover, this story has multiple viewpoints which people generally tend to dislike. However, it is an easy, feel-good novel for those who love fantasy and magic.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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