4 out of 4 stars
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Having grown up in the war-torn Lands of the Princes, Galen is accustomed to strife disproportionate to its rewards and an existence where lifelong toil amounts to nothing. He is suddenly delivered from this hopeless drudgery when he inherits a smithy from a mysterious great-uncle in the comparatively heavenly kingdom of Voulhire. In this strange, new land he meets the sly Rowan, with whom he embarks on an innocent mission to procure white iron, but the simple undertaking evolves into an adventure.
The beautiful thing about We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies is that as Galen and Rowan travel, it is not forgotten for a second that their journey is simply a path forged in a world where bigger drama, forces and schemes are afoot. There is a dark mage, Meldorath, planning an elaborate escape, not to mention the unlucky neighbouring town of Hillport that is battered by tragedy after tragedy. These happenings are only witnessed peripherally by the protagonists during their journey. There is also the Riva Rohavi rebel force that's clandestinely working to bring down the Voulhire empire.
The tale of these two capable young men is but a slice of the cake that is Voulhire, encompassing its history, geography, leadership, as well as the key players of the time. There is a well-defined, logical world outside the story being narrated. This was hands down my favourite aspect of the book, and my main reason for giving a rating of 4 out of 4 stars.
The holistic nature of the characters is mainly why I felt a rating above three stars was deserved. I loved that Rowan, Galen, Lord Eldus, King Wilhelm, as well as all the other participants didn't seem to embody a single trait or idea, but instead were complex and unpredictable. Additionally, there is a map of Voulhire included, and this helps the reader visualise the journey undertaken by the protagonists with ease. Another reason for the high rating would be the meticulous editing of the book, which has very few errors. I basically have no complaints about the work.
This is the perfect introductory book for a series set in a fictional world, where one is familiarised with the layout, history and other key elements. Matthew Tysz has written a wonderful fantasy/adventure read that I'd recommend to all fans of the genre above the age of sixteen. The age limit would be due to the presence of profanity, as well as mature concepts like paedophilia and a mention of human experiments. From this you can tell that this is a bit of a dark book, and if you don't mind that in your fictional adventures, then you'll enjoy it even more.
Fans of fast-paced or more drama-driven works may not enjoy We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies, seeing as its climax occurs at the very end. It leaves the reader with many questions and a desire to know the characters and their motives better. The reader will be positively itching to get their hands on the sequel, and this I know because it's what I'm doing right now.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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