4 out of 4 stars
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A New Arrival Under Great Skies is the first book of Matthew Tysz’s We Are Voulhire series. The story begins with a man, Galen, from a war-torn island who immigrates into the fabled land of Voulhire. Galen’s journey is funded by his recently deceased great uncle, who has tasked Galen with becoming a blacksmith and taking over his shop. Meanwhile, the king of Voulhire and Lord Eldus attempt to restore a run-down costal town that has been crippled following the rise of the dreadful Lord Meldorath. While Galen innocently discovers the treasures of Voulhire and the secrets of the forge, Eldus works to uncover the dark secrets of Lord Meldorath. Eldus’ investigation of Meldorath’s notes leads him down a dark road and he discovers that the king may have made a crucial error that could result in the destruction of Voulhire as they know it.
A New Arrival Under Great Skies is one of the best fantasy books I have read in quite some time, and after reading it I am very excited to read the second installment of the series. The world of Voulhire is laden with magical elements and a medieval atmosphere, yet it is still a relatable and almost believable world that distinctly mimics our own. This intriguing world alongside the convincing and enjoyable characters made the book captivating and entertaining. The book is uniquely written in two points of view. The chapters that follow Galen are written in a first-person narrative style, while the chapters that follow other characters are written in a more standard omniscient third-person style. While the book had a few errors, they were minor and did not detract from the reading experience and the book shows evidence of good editing.
I would have liked if some of the profanity was excluded. The book was not excessive in its use of profanity, I only noted about 15 instances, but I personally prefer books that forgo it entirely. The only additional negative comment I would make on this book is that I wish the author took some more time to establish the science and religion in Voulhire. This would allow the book to express more completely some of the tensions between imagination, religion and science that were intended. That said, Tysz may choose to expound this in the later books.
Tysz’s writing shows evidence of influence from old renaissance as well as modern fantasy writters, thus some pieces of the story are predictable and the book is not entirely unique. Despite these elements, I thought the book was captivating and was exceptional overall. The characters were probably my favorite piece of the book; they were interesting, relatable and convincing. Each main character was distinctly different enough to provide varying perspectives on the events of the book. I was also really impressed by the prayer that was included in an early chapter of the book, it really strengthened the world building and hooked me into the book. I rate this book 4 out of 4.
Some sexual references were included and some misogynistic comments were made by select characters, but there was no explicit sexual content or interaction. Most of the profanity and adult references were from only one character, so such content only appeared periodically. While the book has an underlying theme that explores religion in social structures, the book is not specifically suited for any specific religious preference.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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