4 out of 4 stars
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A New Arrival under Great Skies by Matthew Tysz — the first book in the We are Voulhire series — is a fantasy story about an empire rising to a golden age. It is a well-written introduction to the entire series.
Tysz gives a satisfying description of the world, imbued with different characters’ perspectives. We meet Galen, a naive and young man who has the luck to escape from his war-torn homeland due to his generous great uncle. Galen starts to discover how to follow his footsteps in being a blacksmith. Through the chapters about the days of the new lord of Hillport, Lord Eldus Alderman, the noble part of society is also introduced to us. We get to see what difference a new leader can make in the life of a city regarding the economy, education, and the well-being of its citizens. Then there is the highest circle of the empire, King Wilhelm and Lord High Chancellor Midius Maido. They seem to be the ones to have the power to know what is happening in the country. They decide by themselves if anything should remain a secret even in front of each other. The story revolves around episodes of the life of these people. Trough those moments, we gain knowledge about political power, religion, economy, and the environment of Voulhire.
It is hard to say what I liked the most about the book. I would certainly highlight the idea of creating the character of an outlander, who doesn’t know anything about the world the book is set in. The conversations between Galen and supporting characters were an amazing way to provide information about Voulhire’s ideals, culture, and past. The refugee tells his part of the plot as he looks back on his past. He knows about future events and consequences but does not reveal anything. This gives a mysterious atmosphere to the episodes. Another aspect that I truly liked was that this atmosphere intensified in the chapters of other characters. We begin to feel the impression of the dark and hidden enemy, the legendary mage, Lord Meldorath left on the citizens of Voulhire. He is only talked about throughout most of the story and only shows up for a short time in the plot. Yet anything that involves him seems to be the most intriguing part of the book.
I don’t have anything to mention as something I disliked the most. Probably, this is because I read the book with the thought in mind that this is only the first book in the series, and the author shouldn’t reveal everything. That’s why it didn’t feel like anything is missing from it. The book was also well-edited - I only found one small error.
As I finished reading the story, the title of the book came to my mind. “New arrival” could have multiple meanings. A new arrival could be the moment as Galen steps on the prosperous land of Voulhire to explore his newly found fortune, or it could be the arrival of the new lord of Hillport to his new city or the first moves made by the villain. Overall, it’s interesting to see how the author intertwines the various lives of each character and creates a whole story with an epic ending. At the same time, he leaves you with that feeling — that this is just the beginning.
I genuinely enjoyed reading New Arrival under Great Skies and getting the first pieces of the puzzle of this series’ story. I would give it 4 stars out 4 stars because it has every element for a great beginning for a book series. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy, wants magic in their life, and would love to read about how an empire’s golden age has its dark side and obscure secrets.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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