4 out of 4 stars
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Welcome to Voulhire, a fantastical kingdom where universes collide. This story, We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies by Matthew Tysz, transports the reader through different spheres of spirit, physical, and magic where they will encounter characters as barbarous as some are kind. It is through these colorful characters that we are introduced to various places and cultures in Voulhire. The kingdom is governed by the noble King Wilhelm Orcolo, whose desire is for his people to live their best. However, not everyone embraces the same vision.
The action-packed prologue vividly describes the ousting of Lord Orlin at Castle Hillport. Hillport is a Voulhirian town slated for extensive development and is highly featured in this first installment of the We are Voulhire series. The vicious operation is directed by General Dalehei Meldorath, who is also a powerful magician. He becomes the next Lord of Hillport but ironically is deposed three months later for committing atrocities against the humble fisherfolk, just as his predecessor did. He is apprehended and later declared dead by the King. But is he dead? This is the question that hangs heavily on the consciousness of the citizens.
A new Lord, Eldus Alderman, assumes the rule of Hillport. How long will he last? As you read to determine the answer to this and other questions, prepare to be transported into a world of deception, vengeance, greed, and cruelty. Here power struggles create mayhem and reaffirm loyalties. It is within this conflicting climate that the "new arrival", Galen Bray, enters Voulhire.
Galen Bray, the protagonist of the story, has inherited property, which was owned by his great uncle in Magnum Caelum, another Voulhirian town. With the help of his executor, Rowan, he wastes no time in abandoning his war-ravaged homeland to settle in Voulhire, a place he believes is paradise compared to his land. Galen is from the Land of the Princes, where civil war remains the order of the day. In the Lands, “it was death by the sword, or a slow starvation." Ironically, amongst Galen’s inheritance are a forge and a sword whose hilt “fit perfectly” into his hand. Will his legacy feature significantly in the Voulhirian context? At this point, Galen appears to be somewhat naïve but soon begins to discover himself and others as he spends more time in Rowan’s company. He also begins learning that everything is not as it seems.
What I liked most about the story were the action-packed magic scenes that lend excitement to the story. I was hooked from the get-go. It would be amazing to see these characters in the story cast in movie roles. I also appreciated how the backstory for each character set the stage for what is to come. Another admirable thing was that the language used in the novel was direct and conversational. The map and reference are brilliant guides in helping readers understand the novel.
What I disliked most about the book was that characters like Galen were not better developed. I am quite excited, as other readers will be, to learn more about Galen and the role he plays in the kingdom. I am equally eager to know more about other intriguing characters like Meldorath, Beth, and the Riva Rohavi terrorist group. However, like other readers, I will have to follow the sequel to see character evolution, as this novel is not a stand-alone. The introduction of several characters and perspectives might be somewhat confusing for some readers, but we need to recognize that the author is paving the way for impending events, actions, and interweaving of character roles in the follow-up series.
I am confident that anyone who completes this first installation in the series will want to dive into the others for answers to questions that will certainly be swirling in their minds. I have no issue with rating this novel four out of four stars. It seems to have been professionally edited as I identified no error. I recommend it to all adults, young and old, who love to read spell-binding fantasy tales, play absorbing medieval video games, and watch epic films. Although there are no erotic scenes involved, I would not recommend it for children because it carries profane language. In this work of art, references to the spiritual realm are inoffensive, so should not pose a threat to religious beliefs. This book represents a gripping start to the series and will definitely leave you wanting more.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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