4 out of 4 stars
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We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies. The unity of the title is betrayed by the hatred and vengeance flowing alongside the magic in the veins underlying the surface of Voulhire. Galen Bray, King Wilhelm, and the wizard Meldorath are all intricately connected by this network, and incisions made by new enemies let the blood and hatred seep to the surface. King Wilhelm has the impossible task of sealing this flow and cleaning up the bloodshed that follows, but unbeknownst to him, secrets arise from the deep wounds that are gouged in the fabric of his kingdom. Can the king keep the fabric of his nation together, or will he be the first in a long line of rulers to see it crumble?
As a series opener, this novel is intended to introduce the characters and act as a base on which the storyline of the whole series is built. Maintaining the balance between the introduction of the characters and the foundation of the plot whilst keeping the attention of the reader is a difficult task. Often at times, I have read novels where the writer is mainly focused on the introduction of the characters and in the process forms a disjointed plot. This makes their novel an average and at times boring read.
In We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies, Matthew Tysz manages to maintain that balance between pumping content into the reader's head, while at the same time keeping the novel interesting to read to perfection. This, therefore, is by and far my favorite aspect of the novel as I felt I was truly connecting with the characters without having to sacrifice the entertainment side of reading. Another aspect that I have to give Matthew Tysz credit for is the well-constructed villains in his novel. It is so easy for writers to give their antagonists a need for mindless destruction. In the case of this novel, the villains were so well crafted that their background stories almost justified the destruction they caused.
The ruthlessness and grace with which Matthew Tysz executes the plot of this novel made it an interesting read for me and so deserves to be mentioned in this review. I being a student of the German language also noticed subtle touches like the use of the word 'Herr' which translates to mister in English to mean mister in certain situations within the novel. Another subtle touch is the way Matthew Tysz imposes his own character traits on one of the characters in the novel. For the sake of not spoiling the novel, this character will be unnamed the task of identifying him is to be left to the reader.
The only aspect of the novel I could find fault with was the setting. The novel is set in a society that is transitioning from the dark ages to the industrial age, but even the nobility still use candles. This in itself was not the problem. The problem came about with the knowledge that some of the characters exhibited which was centuries or sometimes even millennia ahead of their time. Though this might just be me nitpicking because after all, this is a fantasy novel.
The well-constructed plot and characters along with the subtle touches and an almost error-free text lead me to rate this novel 4 out of 4. This novel does not deserve any less because I consider the flaws I found to be nitpicky, considering that this is a fantasy novel the author is not restricted to how he envisions his world.
For the readers who crave a good sci-fi/fantasy novel with alternate worlds and magic, I would highly recommend this novel. The novel is not suitable for younger readers due to the constant use of profane language although sexual content is almost non-existent. The writer sought to capture the many flaws in us human beings within his characters. I believe it is for this reason that he created his own religion within the novel. For those readers who are not comfortable picking up a novel with religious references or one that fronts whole new ideologies, I would not recommend this novel as it may conflict with your own beliefs. On the whole Matthew Tysz has written an immensely interesting first book and I will be following the series myself.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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