4 out of 4 stars
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In We are Voulhire: A New Arrival Under Great Skies by Matthew Tysz, a young man named Galen travels from his war-torn homeland to the land of Voulhire, where a relative he wasn’t even aware existed has left him an inheritance. Unsure of what lies ahead but thrilled to have the opportunity for a new beginning away from the turmoil of his home, Galen sets out without hesitation on the journey that will take him to his new life in an unknown and distant land.
Upon his arrival, Galen is impressed by the land’s wealth and the prosperity and peace of its citizens, but all is not as it seems beneath the veneer of the kingdom of Voulhire; King Wilhelm is hiding a dark secret, and the people are murmuring under the rumours that a powerful and sinister mage is still at large, despite the King’s assurances of his death. On top of this, the kingdom lives in fear of the Riva Rohavi, a warrior group that has terrorised the towns and their inhabitants over past years. Galen settles into his new life and home, makes friends and learns the practices of his trade; meanwhile, politicians and armies are moving behind the scenes and putting into motion sinister plans and plots involving strange beings and materials that may spell doom for the inhabitants of this seemingly prosperous country.
The story is told partially in the first person point of view (while Galen narrates his experiences) and partially in the third person point of view (while the reader hears of other people and events in the kingdom). This book had a great plot, and it held me enthralled from beginning to end. I was intrigued by the many characters and events that occurred through the pages and was constantly drawn to find out what would happen next.
The language of this book is a little more rich and complex than that of usual novels, and I enjoyed this aspect highly. The text was filled with great imagery and descriptive similes and metaphors, such as: ‘And so the war dragged, like fingernails cracking in the dirt, for years,’ and: ‘The sound of metal cut through the room like the commanding voice of a king.’ The writing style is engaging and flowing, and it makes you feel as if you are experiencing the feelings of the narrator and the situations he describes. The language was the element I enjoyed most about this novel. There were several other things I enjoyed as well, such as the descriptions of the mages and the use and source of their magic. These elements were interesting and well explained and they did not feel as if they were too far-fetched or unrealistic. Additionally, the descriptions of the politics and battles were intriguing and exciting and they didn’t drag on or get too confusing (as they often do in books of this sort).
There wasn’t anything I particularly disliked about this book. Though there were multiple characters and viewpoints, the author kept track of them nicely and I never felt confused by the switches (as often happens in books that utilise this device). However, there were several scenes of blood and gore, some frightening elements and also some inappropriate references and profanity that would make the story unsuitable for young or sensitive readers.
There were a few spelling and grammar errors in this book, but most of them were minor—such as extra spaces or errors in capitalisation—and didn’t interfere with the experience of reading the book.
I rate this book four out of four stars. I’m excited to read the other books in this series and find out what happens to the land and the characters. I would recommend this book to lovers of adventure stories and sci-fi/fantasy books with plenty of action and a fast-paced plot filled with intrigue and suspense.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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