4 out of 4 stars
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We Are Voulhire: A New Arrival Under Great Skies by Matthew Tysz is the first of the nine-volume series We Are Voulhire. In this volume, Tysz introduces the reader to a fantasy universe that consists of the Cosmos (physical world), Caromentis (magical world), and Alitheia (spiritual world). As the series name implies, the majority of the story takes place in the Cosmos, the physical world, in the country of Voulhire. This book is a story of beginnings. A young man starts a new beginning when he inherits his great-uncle’s property and business in Voulhire. The King makes the official declaration that Voulhire has indeed entered a Golden Age. An honorable judge is appointed Lordship over the small town of Hilport by the King.
I found the first part of the book overwhelming and, at times, confusing. The author has built an entire universe that consists of three worlds. He provides a map of Voulhire so that the reader can follow discussions and movements in the story. He also provides a glossary of terms that defines new words used for this world, places, titles, flora, past kings, and eras that are referenced in the text, etc. There is so much detail provided and so many character introductions that, in the beginning, I was confused as to who was who, where did everyone belong, and how did everyone and everything fit into the plot! At one point I thought of giving up since I could not grasp what the plot was and why I was being inundated with so much information, people, and places. Then it occurred to me that this is the first in a series of nine volumes. This book is laying the foundation for that series, introducing the players, plots, sub-plots, and places that will need to be known for the series. After thinking of the book in those terms, as a foundation, I found the reading become easier. I stopped assuming there was a plot that would be introduced, played out, and concluded in this 200-page book. Yes, there are some conclusions by the end of the book, but there is so much more to be discovered in the subsequent installments to this series.
Galen Bray asks no questions when he is notified that his unknown Great-Uncle wants him to come to Voulhire. As a resident of the Land of the Princes, Galen has known only war and poverty. “In the Lands of the Princes, it was death by the sword or a slow starvation.” Upon his arrival, he is in awe of the sky, the roads, buildings, and people. For the first time in his life, he feels like he matters. Unfortunately, Galen’s Great-Uncle had passed before he made it to Voulhire, but he did leave a letter for him and detailed notes on how to do black-smiting. Galen would need to learn that trade to continue the business he inherited.
Tysz uses both first-person and third-person perspectives in this novel. From Galen’s perspective, first-person is used. All other character perspectives are in third-person. I found this to be unique and pleasing. The author did a wonderful job on the flow from one perspective to the next. Each chapter heading is clear on where you are and what part of the story you are in while reading. After my initial confusion in the early chapters of the book, I found my footing, and the flow from one place and person to the other was smooth.
Tysz provides exceptional descriptions of this world he has created. He spent a lot of time on creating very detailed aspects that make it a unique place of fantasy where magic exists. The setting is similar to 18th Century England mixed with some modern aspects. For example, there are Kings, knights, and castles, and aspects of a caste system in addition to steam powered automobiles. One problem I have with the novel is that the people are humans and the planet is referred to in the novel as Earth. I wonder why, after so much detail of a different universe was provided, a unique fantasy name for the people and world was not created. I did like the fact that although Voulhire has an 18th Century feel to it, it does not have the language and dialect often used for that time period. The dialog is modern, making it much easier to understand. Most of the information the reader receives through the story is provided through dialog between characters. I found this appealing as I find when monologue is used in books to provide details it can sometimes become verbose and less engrossing.
Overall, I enjoyed reading We Are Voulhire: A New Arrival Under Great Skies by Matthew Tysz and gladly rate it 4 out of 4 stars. I found no errors while reading, and therefore conclude that it was professionally edited. The novel does use a small amount of profanity in the dialog; however, its use is fitting for the text and not overused. There are no explicit sex scenes but there are references to sexual conduct and pedophilia. For that reason and also due to the complexity of the story, I do not feel that this book is appropriate for young readers. I do recommend it to teens and adults that enjoy fantasy novels.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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