3 out of 4 stars
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We are Voulhire: Someone else's end by Matthew Tysz is an epic fantasy novel set in a Kingdom where magic is power, and the power rests not in good hands alone.
Being the third book of this franchise, the premise has already been set with good care. We are delving further into the consciousness of each character in this book. The chapters are named on behalf of the characters and therefore perspectives are shifting as we progress with the tale although the narrator remains a third person. This is a very interesting feature according to me because it leaves the agency with the reader and allows one to resonate with the persona. Rather than adopting a narrative that renders certain roles in an unbecoming light and hinders any possible chance of relatability by a depiction of good versus evil, the author has done an incredibly clever job. I appreciate the element of stark reality in fantasy fiction, the omission of black or white, at least in this part of the series.
The book kicks off with a sense of impending danger and ominosity that is soon to engulf the kingdom of Voulhire just as the villainous entity makes its unwelcome entry into the mind of General Meldorath. The eeriness and dark theme of the novel is thus established from the very first chapter. There is a fair share of gore and death but at no point did it make me squeamish or disturbed but this is a very subjective opinion. However, I must bring to notice there are several mentions of severed heads and graphic descriptions of carnage yet I believe it is an ineliminable strand of the story because it allows us to grasp the callousness and threat posed by each group of people; be it the Riva Rohavians or the Mianoran knights.
The protagonist of the story, Galen is a young refugee boy from the Lands of the Princes. Although initially portrayed with an aura of innocence and even naivety, he displays his extraordinary physical strength when pushed to the limits. Impulsive as he may be, he has loyal friends who compensate for his shortcomings. The reliable friendship between Galen, Rowan, and Demetrius acts as a band-aid over the burgeoning horror ripped open for the reader flipping through each page.
There are instances where the language is perhaps not very suited to a young audience, such as the use of "f**k" and "whoring". Despite the genre being a fantasy fiction, this is not a story that is utterly severed from the real world. It poses profound philosophical questions that leave the reader to tackle with and one can easily draw parallels with the politics and political dilemma of today's world where the refugee crisis is on the rise. This is what enticed me the most about the novel.
There are very powerful dialogues too. “Blind sympathy is what's easy when you’re born with everything.” Statements that leave you contemplating. So it proves to be not just an entertaining piece of work that only aims to get the reader to lose themselves in this world of imagination for a few hours but instead paves way for thought. It pits moral responsibility against survival and self-sustenance which are crucial questions which I think every individual must inspect in their own psyche.
I give a rating of 3 out of 4 because the book is engaging, there is no unnecessary drag and every descriptive scenario seemed crucial for the trajectory. There is an overarching message for the readers to discern and comprehend. The author has not done a lackadaisical work when it comes to character building, incorporating surprises and ensuring an arcane presence up to the end. I did not give a perfect 4 because the reader is left unsatiated as it concludes quite abruptly. I feel that the author could have ended it with a cliffhanger because there is plenty of scopes, considering the tension was on the elevation. The danger still looms along with the uncertainty yet it fails to spark off anticipation.
There are no errors that gained my attention. The editing is remarkably faultless and overall it is a well-structured book. If you're looking for action, adventure, mystery, a dark, and deep literary work, this is your pick. This is not for the faint-hearted nor is it for those who are looking for a protagonist who is the embodiment of an archetypal hero.
We are Voulhire: Someone Else's End
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