4 out of 4 stars
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We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies, by Matthew Tysz, is the first book in the sci-fi and fantasy series, "We are Voulhire". Tysz has created a wonderful world of magic and fantasy in his opening book.
The book opens with Galen Bray, a refugee who flees the war-torn Lands of the Princes to reach Magnum Caelum, a small town located at the southernmost tip of the kingdom of Voulhire. Although the journey by sea is a nightmare, Galen bravely endures it in the hope of finding a better life in the more advanced and rich kingdom of Voulhire. On the other hand, Wilhelm, the middle-aged king of Voulhire celebrates the Feast of Human Hands- a day to rejoice in the year's prosperities and pray for a prosperous future- with his people. As Galen starts to discover his new homeland and make new friends, the evil forces of magic wielded by powerful Mages descend on Voulhire. Will Galen be able to save his new homeland and its people from a terrible fate when the balance of power starts tilting in favor of dark forces?
The author has done an excellent job of binding the realms of fantasy, magic, spirituality, and science together into a well-structured plot in the book. The harsh outlines of the physical world blend seamlessly into the world of magic when, for example, a mage monk, Demetrius grinds rice in a mortar just by holding his hand above it. I moved slowly at the beginning of the book, but once I got comfortable with the new words, phrases, and imagery, I raced through the book until the end. The reference guide at the beginning of the book, which can be opened in a separate tab and the map of the kingdom of Voulhire is very helpful in understanding the new world of Voulhire.
A short title to each chapter introduces the characters. The narrative then moves on from that character's perspective. At times, the narrative shifts to an omnipresent narrator. The story develops slowly, which is expected in the first book, as the author introduces characters and creates the environment. I am sure the second book in the series would be more fast-paced. The historical setting of the book is around the 8th century with knights in shining armors protecting the king. But it is often juxtaposed alongside modern inventions like steam engines to drive carriages. The society of Voulhire is advanced and knowledgeable with telepathy used to relay messages, and spy on enemies and magic used to heal injuries, but it also mentions the presence of caste system in choosing one's profession. Besides this, the very little use of profanity is according to the necessity of the text.
There is nothing I disliked about the book. However, certain terms and phrases used by the characters, while conversing, appear informal and modern in their tone against the historical setting. But that is not going to get a less star. I happily give 4 out of 4 stars to the book. The book is professionally edited with no noticeable errors. There is some depiction of violence against children and a mention of it against women. Hence, I would not recommend this book to children and pre-teens. However, young adults and grown-ups would surely enjoy reading the book. The ending leaves the readers with many questions anticipating the next course of action. I am eagerly looking forward to the second book in this series.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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