4 out of 4 stars
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We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies by Matthew Tysz was a fresh read that I would wholly recommend for both avid fantasy readers and those new to the genre or wants to indulge.
The story started in a nostalgic fairytale-like narration about the Land of Princes ruled by the Emperor of Lullabies that our humble protagonist, Galen, came from and his sudden journey towards the famously progressive and enviable Kingdom of Voulhire to succeed after his uncle's smithy. As the pages go, it would introduce us from other characters' perspectives to perfectly set not only Galen's but also the reader's arrival to the majestic Voulhire, it's riches and cities as well as it's government, hidden disputes and mystics.
Voulhire, with its advancement and power, boils underneath with the troubling desires some of its people harbors. From the defeated rebels, Riva Rohavi gathering in secret to bid their time to dance, up to its governing authorities with the Mianoran Knights leader- Maido, who could rival- and rivals, the King in power as he plays the entire Kingdom without a care in the world to suit his entertainment. All these with a force hidden in the shadows, muttered in secret, growing with hate and with magic awaiting his time to resurface and exact his revenge, Meldorath.
I was reading it with the wondrous bliss of Galen's eyes as he settled into his new peaceful city, with a supportive community, Magnum Caelum. He learned about the few other cities, the Kingdom, its history and religion accompanied by his guide Rowan. They set out to get resources for his blacksmithing career where they will meet Demetrius who would accompany the two back at Galen's home and with them; they carried a newly discovered metal. This and the heartfelt concern & effort of King Wilhelm and his trusted Lord Eldus towards the Kingdom and its people and how they tried to restore the small city of Hillport that faced terror and trauma unspeakable. An experience that may threaten once again and this time to the whole Voulhire, and maybe the world itself as a whole.
It was a beginning, where a journey was set out and efforts were made as they did their best out of what they have. I was hopeful just like the characters that I was indifferent at the small jabs of horror that slip through the chapters. Along the way, it builds up to so much intrigue, excitement and expectations that you would wonder how Galen, a newcomer with his new-found friends would be caught up in the storm that is the numerous and powerful people planning the unbecoming of Voulhire.
Then, as I read the latter part of the book, I experienced a blatant series of unveiling in every chapter that engages you to read more and more. It gave me a unique feeling, having to absorb miraculous instant revelations at once and still be left in suspense. And if I may add, a touch of shock. The author will give you the answers but the answers would make you wonder still. It was how the story tied-up and concluded; it left you wanting more.
As I tackled the chapters, I found the book fresh in its straight-forward writing approach despite being a fantasy read, albeit hinting at modernization (as plumbing and engines are being recognized as well compared to general settings). Matthew Tysz was concise and artfully bold that makes the book simple and easily grasped but still hints about its transition to something big and complex. The compelling way he introduced his characters with the 1st person perspective of Galen coming from a land of war, poverty and survival and his wide-eyed wonder and optimism of how he absorbs this new land full of appreciation and hope to gain a new life, and discover not only his new home but himself with it, all the while showing us the contrast of both the prosperity and struggles of the Kingdom with other characters in play.
The book holds plenty of characters, but despite that, it was written in a way that it would not overwhelm you with sudden introductions within one chapter. Each has its own mystery and was carefully brought into the story and not a single one wasted. Some books have plenty of characters that show minimal purpose, but not this one. And I would expect them to play bigger roles in the destiny of Voulhire while some have yet to flourish in the coming books ahead.
The main ones in the book held me in constant curiosity and interest like Galen's peers, Rowan and Demetrius whose both backgrounds were still a mystery and so does their intentions; the King himself, and his trusted lord Eldus who painstakingly did their best for the betterment of the Kingdom and the safety of the people; the Prince with a very interesting relationship and background that you would wonder how he will end up in the story; the ever detestable selfish Maido and of course, Meldorath, his perspective and how he became who he is together with his companions.
I am looking forward to their story as well especially the seemingly minor ones like Nartik and Dustin both trusted by the King, Galen's uncle and his book, the religious leaders and how they will affect the coming story of Voulhire, a very witty and charismatic Marshus -son of Lord Eldus, the overly adaptable maid Beverly, a perverted old man and an otherworldly girl named Beth.
I absolutely loved every page of it. It was formally well written with a light pacing at the beginning, adjusting you comfortably to the world-building and its complexities. I have found no errors and regarding violence, profanity and sexual content, there wasn't any to suggest highly disturbing graphics to the readers. A few innuendos from Rowan and a few curses from the prince will be all and of course the book contains a bit of a fight scene in the end, but not so much that would put you off. The book was well-worded and delivered properly, and with all that said, I would rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I am certainly ecstatic to read the next installments and know more about Galen's journey, what would become of Voulhire and the mysteries of its world together with the personalities and drive of the people that will challenge its history and write their own!
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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