4 out of 4 stars
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Somewhere between “Game of Thrones” and “The Lord of the Rings” lies We Are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies. This is the first book in a saga written by Matthew Tysz. It is a fantasy novel full of magic, mystery and adventure in the great country of Voulhire, a mysterious and beautiful land.
The story begins with Galen Bray, who is born and raised on the war-torn Prince’s Island. Galen’s great uncle, a famous blacksmith, decides that Galen should be the heir to his homestead and business in Magnem Caelum, a Voulhire town. Aware of his impending death he sends an executor, Rowan, to locate Galen and arrange his long journey to Voulhire. Galen’s uncle, who he had never met, passes away before he reaches the colourful and beautiful town of Magnem Caelum. On arrival at this charming town, Galen is astounded by the comforts and luxuries his new home has to offer. With new friends and a new life he eagerly starts to learn the skills of being a blacksmith and happily leaves his previous life of civil war and pain behind him.
Voulhire is a unique kingdom, both magnificent and mystical and is led by King Wilhelm. At a royal feast at the Palace of Cathidien , King Wilhelm enlists Lord Eldus and his family to go to Hillport to be the new Lord and Lady. Hillport is a southern town that is haunted by the actions of two prior Lords, Lord Orlin and Lord Meldorath. Lord Meldorath was King Wilhelm’s favourite general and one of his closest friends. Voulhire consists of two worlds, the Cosmos, the natural world and the Coromentis, the magical world. Many of Voulhire’s population are magi and possess magical powers, one being Lord Meldorath, who as well as being a mysterious character, practised and used magic for power and control. The population of Voulhire are terrified of Lord Meldorath and how he can harness his powers to his advantage but are told by King Wilhelm he is dead, but suspicions arise that this could be a lie to appease the population and limit the spread of fear.
This first instalment of the series sets the scene of Voulhire and its characters. History of the land and surrounding islands is given and also a map to orientate the reader to all the different geographical areas. The author intensifies the theme of fantasy with descriptions of landscapes, different townships, characters with various magical powers and unexpected, fantastic events that occur. I enjoyed the fantasy theme of the book as it sets the imagination alight, the constant building of imagery and brilliant character development keeps the momentum going. I found the book to be a real page-turner and was gripped by each turn of events.
I particularly liked the dynamics between characters. There are a lot of unknowns between relationships hidden under the surface, such as fighting for power, deceit, secrets and much corruption amongst the hierarchy of Voulhire. It is very interesting to see hidden agendas unravel.
I think the author did a very good job of introducing the premise of the story in this first novel. A lot of history, character building and storytelling is very eloquently done and sets the stage for the next book. The book could be well adapted to a pilot show for a television series, with the basis of the story clearly told.
A slightly confusing part of the book is to pinpoint what age the story is set in. Some of the descriptions of houses, castles and amenities create an illusion of an older time, whereas the character descriptions allude to more modern time. Another small point is that the book comprises a huge amount of places, people and magical powers. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with all these factors and especially the different forms of powers and the roles of each character. However, there is a lot of stories to layout in this first introductory novel and I should imagine things will become clearer in future instalments.
The novel fits perfectly into a fantasy genre, but with a hint of historical fiction due to civil wars, fighting for the throne and invasions of land. Anyone who is a fan of this genre will enjoy this riveting read. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I believe the book has been professionally edited as I didn’t find any grammar or spelling mistakes. It is suitable for adults only as it does contain profanity, sexual and adult themes. Expect an exciting jaunt into the fantasy realm, leaving you eagerly awaiting the next instalment.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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