4 out of 4 stars
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We Are Voulhire is a fantasy novel set in the middle ages, in a time of horse-driven carriages and emperors and kings and magic. Voulhire is a kingdom of several cities united by the valiant efforts of its first ruler, King Saint Idus, and over a two thousand years succession, is at this time under the rulership of King Wilhelm Arcolo. Voulhire is a prosperous kingdom with beautiful cities and hardworking people. It is a land of hope. It is to this land that Galen Bray sets off without a second thought for his homeland, the Island of Princes, a chain of islands torn by an endless civil war among four brothers. A war orchestrated by their own father, the Emperor of Lullabies, as a means of protecting his throne. Galen has no idea of what awaits him in Voulhire, but he never for a moment considers rejecting the invitation he receives from his great uncle whom he has never met. For all he knew, this was his only shot to salvation from the Island of Princes where ' it was death by the sword, or a slow starvation'.
Away from Galen Bray's humble life, the boisterous kingdom of Voulhire is under serious political tension. In light of the recent happenings in one of Voulhire's small cities, Hillport, the king appoints a new lord for the city. This new lord meets a city still shaken by its experience under the leadership of its last two lords. The new lord comes in good spirits and offers hope to the people of Hillport. However, hope is but a grain of sand, as the ghost of one of these lords still hunts Hillport and sends terror across Voulhire. In another part of Voulhire, the volcanic Graylands, there is another small city, Voulhire's poorest city, Odaiama. On this dark and arid Grayland, the seeds of rebellion and nightmare of Voulhire, the Riva Rohavi, flourishes. Riva, a sworn enemy of Voulhire has been in existence for as long as Voulhire has existed. They were always somewhere, in caves, in mountains, in forests, or in sleeper cells throughout the nation, waiting for the next opportunity to cause trouble. Under a new and peculiar leadership, and with a stronger force and renewed sense of purpose they are set to bring Voulhire on its knees, and this time they are more prepared than ever. In addition to all these, the relationship between the king and the lord high counsellor, Midius Maido is not a cordial one. Where there is no love lost between the two most powerful people in the kingdom there is a constant threat of rebellion.
I could go on trying to explain the interestingly complicated but easily understandable plot of this book, but words would fail me to elaborately describe this book in this review. For the first book in what is to be a long series, this book has set amazing precedence, and I hope the subsequent books are just as amazing. I couldn't get my mind off this book until I was done with it. It had so much suspense and a lot of twists as the story was unraveled. I've read many fantasy books and I can say that this one is unique. At some point, I couldn't help but think, 'This is an amazing book that could make an award-winning movie, just like the renowned Game of Thrones novel'. For me, this book was that good. And I rate it a perfect 4 out of 4 stars.
One of the things I loved most about this book was the author's creation of verisimilitude. Despite being a fantasy book, it was so believable and everything felt real. Even the concept of magic was believable, it wasn't described as just a flick of wands, and it didn't overshadow other parts of this book. The characters were natural and real just as the conversations between characters were engaging. The inclusion of the map of Voulhire made the setting more believable and it helped me visualize and understand the movements of characters. There was also a reference guide for things (words, places, and events) pertaining to Voulhire. This really helped me understand certain Voulhirian terms that were necessary for a proper understanding of this book. However, this reference guide had two shortcomings. Firstly it had to be accessed through a link (available at the beginning of the book) and that wasn't so convenient. This also meant that it would be impossible to access this link if it were to be the hardcopy of this book.
Another thing that I loved about this book was the diction. Words were used in such a way that they left a visual and lasting effect. In addition, I liked how the author skillfully tells this story from the perspective of the different characters in this book. Even from the perspective of the supposed villains. This helped me to understand and sympathize with the characters better.
Everything about We Are Voulhire: A New Arrival Under Great Skies by Matthew Tysz was worth reading; from the Introduction to the Author's note. Surely I had my expectations before I started reading this book, and after reading this book I can say that my expectations were definitely surpassed. If you are a lover of sorcery fantasy, historical fiction, and suspense, you should not miss out on this book. If you're looking for a good series to start, you should also check out this book. But you shouldn't bother to pick up this book if you are apathetic to magic of any sort. We Are Voulhire is a series to watch out for.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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