4 out of 4 stars
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We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies is the inaugural volume of a series of fantasy novels. The first book acts as an introduction to many characters and seemingly unrelated plotlines that will evolve into a more consolidated storyline in the subsequent novels.
The story begins with Galen, a refugee, who hails from the war-torn region of the Lands of the Princes, aboard a ship taking him to the prosperous kingdom of Voulhire. He is on his way to a small town of Magnum Caelum to carry forward the legacy of his great uncle, who is on his death bed.
We are then made familiar with the well-liked king of Voulhire, Wilhelm. The kingdom is not as peaceful as it seems, for we are hinted at a dying but persistent rebel group called Riva Rohavi. There is also some friction between King Wilhelm and the High Chancellor, Midius Maido.
Miles away down south, the newly appointed Lord Eldus is trying to revive a quaint little town called Hillport, which is already reeling from the shock of having two evil lords in the past. One was Lord Orlin, a pedophile, and the other was Lord Meldorath, a mage who used his powers to experiment in unethical ways and is not as dead as he seemed.
Trouble is brewing under the surface, but will the ground hold?
When I started reading the book, I was immediately gripped by the exquisite writing. Not every day does one see such a beautiful harmony of words woven together to form sentences. When the entire capital is holding hands during an important celebration, it is described using the words "They were all connected— the pious to the secular, the paupers to the gentry, the king to conspirators and revolutionaries." When Galen is pondering about the disparity between his homeland and Voulhire, he thinks "It reminded me of a painting; but where I had come from, even the paintings weren't so lovely; even dreams weren't so audacious."
In this character-heavy story, the author, Matthew Tysz, has managed to infuse an intricate plot. Despite the pace being a bit sluggish throughout, I was unable to put down the book towards the end.
Galen came across as a kind but naive individual. He was instantly endearing despite him not being worldly-wise. Galen's executor, Rowan, on the other hand, was a bit suspicious as his motives were unclear. Wilhelm's character was quite believable as his vulnerabilities were on display. Lord Eldus' steely determination was palpable and refreshing. Lord Meldorath seems to be on the path to become a fascinating villain in the future. It would be exciting to see what role the arrival of Beth, a being from the Caromentis (the magical world), would play in the story ahead.
As opposed to the usual novels in a fantasy series in which problems created in a particular book are solved in that book itself, this one goes against the norm. The troubles just kept on multiplying right till the end, with no apparent solution in sight.
While this may be helpful to create hype for the next book of the series, I couldn't help but feel a bit disappointed by the lack of an apparent closure. As a result, the book feels incomplete in some way. This inadequacy is easily masked by the fact that this book is supposed to be an extended glossary for the series.
If the author's goal was to make me pick up the next book as soon as possible, then it was a successful one because I cannot wait to read the next volume of the series.
As there were vague allusions to mature themes and mild profanity, I would recommend this book to teens and adults.
I encountered a few minor errors while reading the book but nothing which interfered with my reading experience. I would give this book 4 out of 4 stars as it seems well-edited, and no significant problems prevented me from giving it the perfect score.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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