4 out of 4 stars
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We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies is the first installment in the fantasy series We are Voulhire by author Matthew Tysz. This work falls under the umbrella of metaphysical fiction; the term refers to fantasy stories which feature philosophical contemplation relating to the fantastic elements themselves. The first book acts as an introduction to the setting and some of the key characters and events of the series.
The story takes place in fictional Voulhire, a thriving kingdom that has been living in relative peace for years, but whose ghosts from the past will soon come back to haunt it. We are introduced to the region by Galen, a young man from a war-torn faraway land who has had the good fortune to inherit his great uncle’s smithy in Magnum Caelum, a small town located at the very south of Voulhire. Even though Galen is the first character introduced in the series, he is not necessarily the protagonist, at least not for this book. The story is told by multiple characters, giving the reader a more complete understanding of the events and of the motives hiding behind each person’s actions.
The setting borrows a lot of common tropes from medieval fantasy, while some more modern touches are also present, like the early stages of steam-powered machinery. That being said, the author doesn’t use these tropes as crutches, as is very often the case in the genre. Instead, Tysz is able to utilize the long-standing strengths of these elements to build a fantasy world which feels alive, magical but also very grounded. The vast amounts of political scheming and the alternating perspectives may merit a comparison to the Game of Thrones series, though We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies generally aims for thought-provoking rather than shock-inducing. Overall, this work manages to strike a balance between realism and speculative elements that many books in the genre could only dream of.
Other than that, We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies presents high quality editing, while dialogue and exposition are both handled artfully, in a way that feels quite flowing and natural. The book does openly mention mature subjects, along with the expected adult language, but does so in a way that makes sense for the setting and without it ever getting overbearing.
Summing up, I am going to give We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies 4 out of 4 stars. The book really achieves all it sets out to do; it presents the setting in a way that makes you want to know more about it, every single character it introduces is reasonably interesting and actually relevant to the plot and, most importantly, my first thought after finishing the book was to go find and read the next one in the series. Congratulations to the author for a job well done, and I hope everyone enjoys this as much as I did.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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