4 out of 4 stars
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Set in a fantasy world, We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies is the first book of “We are Voulhire,” an ongoing series comprised of a total of nine books, written by Matthew Tysz. The story begins with a character named Galen, who is journeying from the Lands of the Princes to the kingdom of Voulhire, to inherit the forge bequeathed to him by his uncle in Magnum Caelum (a minor town in Voulhire). The Lands of the Princes is a series of islands where perpetual war is the norm, as opposed to the prosperous Voulhire, ruled by King Wilhelm. Galen is as new to Voulhire as the readers are. And so, through the eyes of Galen, we get to discover the world of Voulhire naturally.
We are also introduced to the character of Lord Eldus, who is sent by King Wilhelm to stabilize the economy of the coastal town of Hillport, ravaged by its previous two lords: Lord Orlin, and Lord Meldorath. Lord Meldorath, a powerful mage, serves as the antagonist of the story, and the developments in Hillport propel the story forward.
The book is just 150 pages long and comes with a map to know your way around. The story is narrated from the perspective of multiple characters from a third-person point of view, except for Galen, where the author uses the first-person point of view, setting him apart from the other characters. The only similarity between the characters is they live in Voulhire. Expectantly, we would get to perceive how these stories are weaved together in the subsequent books of the series. I particularly enjoyed following the story of Lord Eldus. His character is extremely appealing; the way he is genuinely involved in improving the lives of the people of Hillport was interesting to read.
The book is perfect in every sense. The world-building is meticulous, involving the details about the governance of the country, trading, religious leaders, and the magic system, without drowning the reader in useless exposition. The characters are well-developed and three dimensional with their quirks and dialogues that are authentic to each of them. The plot is engaging and held my attention until the end.
The author pulls off surprising the reader with an unpredictable twist in the end. There are no graphic scenes just for the shock value, which seems to be the case these days; on the contrary, the development of the plot felt realistic and enjoyable. The author has created the type of characters who live with you even after you finish reading the book.
My only complaint is the apparent absence of page numbers in the book. I noted four major grammatical errors. Minor errors included missing commas, misplaced commas, and missing hyphens. As they didn’t detract me from my reading experience, I’m going to rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I must solemnly warn the sensitive readers there are mentions of pedophilia and the depiction of violent physical deaths. There are no sexually explicit scenes, but there is the use of sexual innuendos and non-borderline profane words. Because of this, I would not recommend it to younger readers.
Lovers of the fantasy genre would enjoy this book immensely, particularly readers who are waiting for the upcoming installment of the Game of Thrones series, and readers who enjoy other fantasy series like The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb, or The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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