4 out of 4 stars
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We are Voulhire: A New Arrival Under Great Skies by Matthew Tysz is the introduction to a new fantasy series which will consist of nine books, according to the author. Introducing many of the characters, the author first traces the experiences of Galen who travels from his humble home to the capital of the realm of Voulhire where he has inherited the house of his uncle as well as his business as a blacksmith. He is met by the friendly mayor of the city and introduced to the helpful financial advisor who finalized his uncle's estate. The two of them become friends and explore the city and the mines located near it as Galen wishes to acquire new metals in order to continue his new occupation as a blacksmith.
At the same time, we follow the stories of the benevolent king of Voulhire, as well as Lord Eldus and his family. The kingdom is currently undergoing a period of prosperity even although Lord Aldus inherits a town previously run by a less than a pleasant lord.
As the saga progresses, we discover that there are some unsavory characters in the king's court, and the sinister presence of the powerful mage, Meldorath, who appears to be a threat to the kingdom with the magic of his powerful incantations. There is also a powerful neighboring kingdom which has been building its military forces and now threatens the very sovereignty of the kingdom of Voulhire.
As the clouds of a looming war burst, the protagonists are all propelled into a maelstrom of events that will change their lives dramatically. The peaceful realm of Voulhire faces a terrifying threat, whilst in the political shadows, Meldorath is lurking with his own unfathomable devices. At the same time, on a smaller scale, Galen has learned from the observations of a priest who offers to help him analyze an interesting metal obtained in a mine, that his friend and advisor may not be as innocent as he imagines him to be.
With the exception of the strange powers of Meldorath, the story is strangely placid, with very little action, until later on in the plot. Despite this, the author skillfully creates an absorbing tale that serves as a colorful and entertaining introduction to the series. There is a pleasing aura of difference to this fantasy world which is largely characterized by an absence of strange creatures and animals. However, there are a few brief references of a parallel world of magic and strangeness, called Caromentis, with portals that provide a form of access to it. Clearly, this will be a dark and exciting factor in the books to come, as will many of the other darker facets of this realm, briefly alluded to in the novel.
There are no explicit or graphic scenes in the book, despite that there is some violence. Scenes of extreme violence do not contain any graphic imagery or detailed descriptions. Although there are no actual erotic scenes described, there are erotic ideas mentioned. These are more of a humorous nature, although there are some profane words used in the dialogue.
In general, this is a pleasing and realistic fantasy that has obviously been well thought out. It is also a welcome change to see a new kind of plot that is not the usual type that one encounters in most works of fantasy. Although lovers of this genre will enjoy this book, it may also be appreciated by readers who simply enjoy entertaining fiction. This is because the plot revolves around issues of a more ordinary nature, faced by the protagonists and not scenes of extraordinary creatures and unrealistic action. I must mention, however, that this does undergo a slight change towards the end of the book although this is introduced gradually by the author.
The editing of this book is highly professional as I only picked up one error in spelling. Writing in a pleasing and absorbing style, the author builds up the atmosphere in the plot, which creates a mounting tension that provokes curiosity in the reader. Ultimately, the difference of this fantasy sets it apart and creates a new trend in this genre.
There are no controversial religious aspects or any scenes that could prove upsetting for sensitive readers. I should mention, however, that I strongly suspect that this may not be the same case for the future books in this series. Overall, this was a different and enjoyable reading experience, and the author has done an excellent job of provoking my curiosity to read further books in the series. This is an entertaining novel, and I have awarded it a rating of 4 out of 4 stars.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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