4 out of 4 stars
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Matthew Tysz's We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies is the first book of the series. This book introduces us to a fantasy world through the map of the majestic kingdom of Voulhire. The protagonist Galen Bray boards a ship to leave The Lands of the Princes, to start a new life in Magnum Caelum, a little town in Voulhire. Since the last twenty years, The Lands of the Princes had never lived without a war. So, when the opportunity presented itself, he didn't even consider the details. Upon reaching Voulhire, Galen soon realized that he has a lot to learn. A book, a letter from his great uncle, and a friend named Rowan help him in slowly settling down in this new world.
Either this story is extremely well-written or I feel there is some kind of beauty in knowing that someone is trying to slowly learn and build a new life because it was calming to read Galen do that. When Galen said that in a lot of ways he is not just discovering the people of Voulhire, he's also discovering himself, I couldn't help but draw similarities between their world and ours.
This magnificent and terrifying kingdom of Voulhire is ruled by King Wilhelm. The king is facing heat from the corrupt Mianoran Council whose primary role is to protect Voulhire from violent insurgents called Riva Rohavi. Meanwhile, the king appoints his closest aide, Eldus Alderman as the new lord of Hillport to undo the horrific mistakes of its predecessors. Eldus, a former judge, takes on the new role gracefully. He is a kind man whose plans for Hillport were not just about money, but also about bringing prosperity to the poor people.
To sum it up, the king was dealing with internal and external conflicts, Eldus was struggling to win the hearts of the people of Hillport, and somewhere else Galen was trying to adapt and feel at home. It's worth mentioning that this universe also has Caromentis i.e. the world of magic in it. Some mages can draw their powers from it. Meldorath, one such mage, has a dark past and people aren't sure if he's dead or alive. When Eldus learns about Caromentis and its effect, the story takes an unexpected turn. With all these storylines increasing the suspense meter, I was patiently waiting for their paths to merge.
I would rate it four out of four stars because of the multiple things I admired in this book. For starters, it's a novel of only 150 pages, and so much takes place with the story and the arc of characters, that the author needs to be appreciated for it. There are other well-written characters and subplots that I haven't even mentioned in this review. The map is so self-explanatory that I found myself beaming with joy each time I could correctly locate the towns, the hills, and the rivers mentioned in the book.
Most importantly, the author made me believe in this world, it's magic, and its people so much that I felt a mix of emotions for both Eldus and Galen. As the story progressed, I noticed sarcasm and wit, joy and pain, horror, and almost a child-like innocence. Some characters are silently resilient, some on the verge of giving up. Some are living each day to the fullest, while some are barely surviving. While the people of Voulhire and Meldorath take over the minds of readers, it is the author's vision that constantly shines throughout the book.
With Tysz's clean and simple writing style, it's very easy to understand. There are no errors and it's professionally edited. Because of the mild profanity and detailed war scenes in this book, I wouldn't recommend it to young readers. This world sometimes felt so much like ours that it made me wonder if it's a magical parody of the real world. I recommend this one to lovers of fantasy, adventure and suspense. I hope you complete the series.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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