4 out of 4 stars
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We are Voulhire: A new arrival under great skies is the first installment in the We are Voulhire series, written by author Matthew Tysz. The extensive plot, detailed world-building, and fleshed-out characters create an epic fantasy novel that combines both science and magic.
In the war-torn Land of the Princes, we find our hero, Galen Bray. His long lost uncle, who lives in the prosperous kingdom of Voulhire, is dying and searching for an heir to his steel forge business. Galen immediately journeys to the little town Magnum Caelum, where his new life awaits him. Voulhire is a flourishing kingdom, but some harbor sinister motives, and they will stop at nothing to achieve their selfish goals, even if it means leaving destruction and devastation in their wake. Lord Meldorath, a powerful mage with selfish ambition, overthrows the lord of Hillport, taking control of the town. In retaliation, King Wilhelm has him arrested but has his kingdom believe the mage to be dead. Lord Alderman is then sent to Hillport to bring the town back onto its feet. Amongst these events, Galen must find himself and the role he has to play in the future of Voulhire. What do the ambitious plans of Lord Meldorath entail? Will King Wilhelm be able to keep the powerful mage incarcerated for long? What does the future hold for the kingdom of Voulhire?
Firstly, the excellent writing and impressive world-building sets up an exciting reading experience. With this novel, Tysz proves that he is a force to be reckoned with in the fantasy genre, displaying his talent on every page. The format consists of chapter headings, indicating which character the focus will be on. What is interesting is that the author will use the first person viewpoint when Galen is featured, presenting him as the lead character in the story. Then in other chapters featuring other characters, he will make use of the third-person viewpoint. Despite this change in style, the narrative is still easy to follow along. Since the novel features a large cast, I couldn't mention all the characters, but even so, it was easy to keep up with the plot. It might be a bit slow-paced in places, but it leads up to a suspenseful ending that had me on the edge of my seat.
This brings me to my second point and one that some readers might dislike. Matthew Tysz has a very distinctive writing style where he will abruptly end his novels, leaving quite a few loose ends that still need to be tied up. These loose ends come into play in subsequent novels, and it can take some time to find closure for particular events. With this in mind, I advise readers to be prepared to read the entire series to fully appreciate the unfolding of events and character development, as you will not find enough with just one installment. These points I've mentioned did not deter my reading experience in any way, and I absolutely enjoyed the novel from the beginning to the end.
Lastly, this novel explores some sensitive topics like perversion and also includes some vulgar comments, although the author does not go into detail. This, along with the use of profanity, makes the novel unsuitable for a younger audience. It is worth taking note that the Voulhire world mixes spirituality and religion with magic, and some religious readers might be sensitive to this.
Taking all this into consideration and since there was nothing I personally disliked about it, I am happy to rate this novel 4 out of 4 stars. It is obviously professionally edited, and the writing, complex characters, and world-building are praiseworthy. I recommend this novel and series to avid fantasy readers. "Now that he has conquered the road on which he stands, he must decide in which direction he will go."
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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