4 out of 4 stars
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We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies by Matthew Tysz is the first of a series of nine books, in which six have already been published. The story takes place in a country called Voulhire that Tysz has taken out of his mind and transferred onto the pages of his novel. Completely original with a medieval vibe, Voulhire is fraught with political instability, a struggling monarchy system, and a rich history that is beloved by its people. To top it all off, the novel has an element of fantasy with its inclusion of magic and mages that originated from a magical universe known as Caromentis.
The novel itself is more of an introduction to Tysz’s world than a stand-alone story. It follows numerous characters and their role within Voulhire, as well as setting up the endless possibilities for their contribution to the storyline. However, Tysz uses first-person narration with only one character named Galen Bray who is supposedly the protagonist. His story begins in a place called the Land of the Princes where he is caught in a continual state of war and suffering. In a fortunate turn of events, he immigrates to a town called Magnum Caelum after inheriting a small fortune and a blacksmith property. Through his journey, Galen begins to learn the ins and outs of Voulhire and adapts to the new place he finds himself in. It is obvious that Galen has a major part to play within the storyline, but what that will be is unclear in the first novel of this series.
Specifically in this novel, the focus is on the growing threat of the revolutionary organization called Riva Rohavi who wants to destroy all of Voulhire. As well, there is the threat of the mysterious and powerful Meldorath, a mage with an interesting history in Voulhire. Overall, the novel is more about setting the stage for upcoming installments, but also contains a story of its own within this novel. If you decide to pick up this novel, be prepared to excitedly continue onto the next novel and find out where it is all going. I believe that this is a series that everyone will soon be talking about. For this reason, among many others, I am rating this book 4 out of 4 stars.
There is much that I could praise about this novel, but what I liked most was how immersive and real Voulhire felt. Reading this book was as if I was a part of its world. Voulhire was close enough to aspects of our world that I could relate to the setting but also included new, fantastical aspects that made it unique. With awe-inspiring civilizations and well-developed characters, Voulhire feels like a place that real people live in. It was easy to become lost in Tysz’s world and, as a reader, I wanted to.
As well, I really enjoyed Tysz’s incorporation of topics such as philosophy, psychology, the human condition, and history. He creates an interesting discussion on the development of society, the role of heroes and religion in cultures, and the psychology behind the impact of war and child abuse on the development of children. For those of you that are just looking for a fantasy book or cringe at the word “philosophy”, do not be deterred. These topics are very subtle and are not portrayed as a purely educational discussion. In fact, these topics feel very natural within the book, as if Tysz is trying to show the reader that they are a part of the world he has created.
Furthermore, I commend Tysz for the genuine time and effort that was put into creating this series. It is apparent that this book was not just written with a narrow mind, but instead with the intention of developing a multi-faceted plot that the reader can discover. Additionally, Tysz has created an online reference guide of vocabulary that the reader may be unfamiliar with, which shows that Tysz wants the reader to understand every aspect of his work. He cares about what he has created. As well, the novel appears very professionally edited with barely any errors.
The only thing that I disliked about this novel was that it felt a little slow in places. Many times, I was hoping for the pace to pick up, but it remained stagnant. I know this is due to the book only being an introduction, but I was hoping for more movement within the plot. I found that, even though there was a wonderful mystery genre to this book, it still took too long to find out what the series was going to be about.
That being said, I recommend this book to fantasy lovers who are ready to sit down and be carried through a brilliant journey in Voulhire. If you enjoy books about imaginary kingdoms and political rivalry, then this book will also deliver that to you. However, this book is not meant for children due to its use of profanity, minimal sexual humour, and description of violence during warfare.
I found this book to be beautifully crafted and very well written. Because of this, and the reasons I have given within this review, I wholeheartedly give this book 4 out of 4 stars.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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