4 out of 4 stars
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We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies is the first installment of Matthew Tysz’s We Are Voulhire series. King Wilhelm appoints Judge Eldus as the lord of the Voulhirian town of Hillport. He claims that Meldorath, the previous lord and a dreaded mage, is finally dead. However, his name still evokes fear among the Voulhirian people. Meanwhile, a notorious group of rebels named Riva Rohavi approaches Hillport with the intent of plundering. Among this upheaval, a young man named Galen Bray arrives at Magnum Caelum after inheriting his uncle’s forge. Accompanied by Rowan and Demetrius, two new acquaintances, he sets forth to learn the trade. With so many opposing forces at work, what awaits Galen and the other Voulhirians? Is Meldorath really dead or merely biding his time until he can strike again?
Tysz executed a remarkable job of world-building. He established a solid geographical background for the imaginary kingdom of Voulhire. He breathed life into it by incorporating minute details on the socio-political and economic structure of each town. The glossary at the end would help the readers to get acquainted with this new world. The complicated web of affairs and the inclusion of fantasy elements made the Voulhirian world akin to the Seven Kingdoms in A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin.
Moreover, Tysz concocted a curious blend of the historical and the modern world. Although a specific timeline was lacking, the events took place sometime during the advent of steam-driven vehicles. Surprisingly, the characters mentioned gyms and ice-skating rinks, something we would generally associate with today’s world. In this regard, however, I found the dialogues inconsistent throughout the novel. While the royalty spoke in a slightly old-fashioned way, there were some modern inflections in the other conversations. For example, there were a few terms like “metrosexual” and “daddy issues.” Also, Lord Eldus’s children greeting him with “Hi, dad” sounded entirely out of place.
The novel introduced an overwhelmingly large cast of intriguing characters. Along with honorable ones like King Wilhelm and Lord Eldus, a few opportunistic characters were also present. As the central character, Galen’s down-to-earth nature and respectful manners were endearing. However, he seemed to be overly trusting. Considering the terrible experiences during the violent wars in his home country, I would have expected him to be more suspicious of new people.
I found the novel exciting despite these incongruities. The hints of a sinister plot involving Meldorath made me apprehensive. The aura of fear and suspicion surrounding the evil mage reminded me of Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter series. The brutality of the Riva Rohavi chilled me to the core, more so when they kept dancing while killing and pillaging. I cannot wait to find out how the story plays out in the sequels.
From a technical standpoint, the book seemed professionally edited as I found only one error. I rate this 4 out of 4 stars as the positive aspects outweighed the negative points. I would wholeheartedly recommend it to the readers who appreciate epic fantasy series. Considering that the narrative included some mentions of pedophilia and rape, I would suggest a mature audience for the novel.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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