4 out of 4 stars
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We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies is the first instalment of this epic adventure series written by Matthew Tysz. In its most tangible form, the story is split amongst three different main perspectives. After receiving a handsome inheritance from his uncle, Galen leaves his treacherous homeland behind and escapes to the land of opportunity, Voulhire. With the assistance of the spirited Rowan, Galen is determined to carry on his uncle’s blacksmith legacy. Eldus, a new-appointed lord, is on a mission to welcome new jobs, new schooling and new opportunities to the deprived town of Hillport. But first, he must deal with his predecessor’s disturbing past. And finally, King Wilhelm wants to protect his kingdom from the threat of a brewing civil war between his divided sons. But of course, there is one common enemy. Voulhire is under the looming threat of the supposedly dead, Meldorath, an evil dark wizard - Voulhire’s answer to Lord Voldemort.
So, usually, I tend to steer clear of any form of science fiction or fantasy underworlds because as a reader, I have a penchant for stories that I can easily relate to. However, this book left me completely surprised. We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies is a mystical maze of atmospheric vagueness- and I love it! Whilst reading this enchanting novel, I felt like I was Alice, falling deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole leading to wonderland. Now let’s be clear. This first book is written in the shape of a teasing temptress- it doesn’t give too much away. It just sets the tone for what is meant to follow in the series. And yes, for some people, it may appear a little plotless and pointless. But I found myself drawn into the author's cinematic style of writing. There’s a mixture of cross-cutting scenes, scenarios, and intriguing characters aplenty. And anyway, isn't that the true essence of books? To escape the realities of life. What I admired most of all about this book is the writing style. Matthew Tysz is a master storyteller, conjuring up vivid imagery with his many descriptions of Voulhire. And his captivating words make you race through the pages wanting more. Similar to Galen, I was wide-eyed and in awe of this new world, thanks to the artistic elegance of the author. Speaking of young Galen, my first impression of him was “ This guy has the charisma of a coconut.” Even Rowan referred to him as “dumb” several times and implored him to add some more levity to his social palette. However, I reminded myself of the usual framework of an adventure story. The protagonist leaves his/her home, encounters new experiences, friends, dangers and eventually, returns home ( though I think Galen may stay in Voulhire) wiser, braver, richer and stronger than before. They usually undergo I complete personality transplant, so I have a sneaky suspicion that this is only the beginning for Galen. There is hope that he may develop a sparkling personality at some stage in the series - he is sure to blossom! Furthermore, even though the story is based on a fictional world, themes such as child abuse, politics, death, hope and self-discovery are explored throughout this book. I love how the author easily translates and reflects real-life issues into fantasy.
Moving onto my dislikes. The word ‘mage’ kept cropping up in the book, and I wasn’t exactly sure what or who a mage is. If I had to take a guess, I would say a mage is somebody who is a non-native or perhaps somebody who dabbles in magic - maybe mage is short for the word magician. Another thing that slightly bothered me about this book was the lack of character descriptions. I have a sketchy idea of what Galen and Demi...sorry... Demetrius looks like. But my mind was unable to paint a picture of the Alderman family. I completely understand character descriptions are not entirely vital, but I feel it's the first step in getting to know the characters. However, I am going to assume that the author chose to purposely leave out the character descriptions to give an air of mystery or to allow the reader to use their own imagination. Also, I felt the story should’ve been a strictly first-person narrative, rather than a mixture of first and third. Personally, a first-person narrative is always my preferred choice because not only is it the most simplest viewpoint to handle, it is warmer and more intimate, too. Luckily, it didn’t disrupt the flow of the novel too much. Furthermore, there were so many backstories and names to remember at times, that it was a tiny bit overbearing for my mind. Overall, the book is wonderfully written, with no grammatical errors to report.
I would highly recommend this book to readers who have a desire for fantasy and magic. As I said at the beginning of my review, this book is a slow-burning process that sets the pace for what is to later come in the series. So if you are seeking something a little bit more direct or with action from the start, then this book is not for you. However, please bear in mind, less is more. It’s all part of the dance.
In conclusion, this book receives a 4 out of 4 stars rating from me. The crowning glory for me was the perfectly executed story-telling. I cannot praise the author's spellbinding writing enough- a highly promising talent. I’m already looking forward to my next trip to Voulhire!
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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