4 out of 4 stars
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‘When elephants fight it is the grass who suffer.’ The sentiment in this African proverb is the theme in We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies by Matthew Tysz. This is a short book that can be finished in one reading.
Set in an imaginary land and time frame the story begins with an introduction of a war between members of a ruling family which has severely impacted the lives of the common man. Galen, the protagonist is one such man able to flee his strife-ridden motherland for another empire ‘Voulhire’. This new land, the land of dreams and opportunities with features and names of kings similar to German people and Latin American types of celebrations, however, has a dark underbelly and whether this engulfs Galen as well is something you will figure out as you delve deeper into the story.
Readers who like political fiction mirroring different facets of human nature will like it. The story has a healthy dose of gore and is not meant for the faint of heart. A sense of disquiet will linger after the story is over. The language uses profane words that are apt for depicting the characters and plot development but might not be palatable to some readers. The book is well-edited, however, I did not understand why the name of town is italicized despite being Latin words.
The things I liked about the book are its rapidly developing story line, the multi-layered characters, and the shadows of historical and current day affairs of the world in the plot which made this tale an engaging kaleidoscope. There are descriptions of war-related violence, terrorist groups, and refugees which echoes the current loss and suffering in certain parts of the world. There are shadows of the Vatican/Forbidden city along with its famous Swiss guards. There are time travel and magic, most of the bad kind, at least in this volume. There is a succinct portrayal of the palace intrigues for power, misuse of power, and the willingness of the powers that be to sacrifice the common man’s life for supposed ‘greater good’ or a point to make. The descriptions of violence and assault of an army/marauders on the captured are economic but no less impactful. Despite the peeling layers of negative aspects of human behaviors, there is the redemption of trust and fellowships as exemplified by Galen, Eldus, and the citizens of Magnum Caelum, the town where Galen is headed to. I rate this book 4 out of 4 because of its masterful depictions of court intrigues, human complacence, and the ray of hope that sustains us through our darkest times.
There is nothing which I dislike but I must point out that this book is one of a series and has thus does not have a denouement. For that matter, the climax is also one of the rising parts towards the grand finale. Moreover, there are no female protagonists in this part of the story. True to life, the female characters seem to bear the brunt of male atrocities, and thus while reading I was wondering whether to be happy that the villains are all males or to be sad that there are no female points of view characters needed to develop the story line.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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