4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Welcome to a land of magic, mystery, and adventure! We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies by Matthew Tysz is the first installment of the We are Voulhire series. The story begins with the plight of Galen Bray, who is fleeing his homeland for the promise of a better life in the Kingdom of Voulhire. Once there, Galen claims his inheritance – a blacksmith’s forge left to him by his late uncle. Everyone knows that Voulhire is praised as a prosperous nation entering its “golden age,” but power-hungry dissenters are rising up all over the kingdom, so trouble is brewing beneath the surface of this magnificent land. Mingled into the drama and madness of the kingdom’s physical world, the parallel universe of Caromentis also beckons to those who seek its ethereal wonders.
The title is very appropriate because several of the characters often gaze up at the skies above Voulhire as if mesmerized by its endless beauty. Likewise, the cover art depicts the moment when Galen arrives at the village of Magnum Caelum under that same canopy of twinkling stars. The orange title font provides a nice contrast to the blue background of the image. Additionally, an ancient-looking map is included to bring the story to life. The book consists of unnumbered chapters; each section centers around a particular character and is named accordingly. The chapters that focus on Galen are told from his first-person perspective, whereas the chapters about the other characters are told from the third-person viewpoint of an omniscient narrator. Magic is infused into the story as one of the major themes; other themes include mystery, philosophy, religion, politics, and corruption. Above all, this novel skillfully analyzes the very essence of the human condition.
The plot is complex; there are many characters and subplots interwoven to create a marvelous tapestry of spellbinding backstories. As I mentioned before, Galen Bray is a new immigrant to Voulhire. Arriving from the war-torn Land of the Princes, this humble young man is eager to make the most of his new opportunities. Even though Galen is the main protagonist, he shares the spotlight with an extensive cast of characters. To name a few, Rowan is the rambunctious and streetwise executor of Galen’s uncle. Rowan is also an infamous womanizer. King Wilhelm Arcolo is the benevolent ruler of Voulhire; he seeks to protect his flourishing country and maximize its economic potential. Midius Maido is the devious and lecherous chancellor (second in command to the king). Midius enjoys using his position and influence to torment others. Meldorath is an evil and powerful mage from the past; his resurgence is feared by the people of Voulhire. Eldus Alderman is a clever new lord who is charged with improving the city of Hillport in the wake of Meldorath’s destructive regime there. Each figure plays an integral role as the plot progresses.
There is so much to enjoy about this book. First of all, the world-building is excellent. The Land of the Princes appears to be inspired by medieval Europe. In contrast, Voulhire is a more technologically advanced society; it is similar to the Renaissance or Enlightenment periods with aspects of modern society mixed in. Second, the descriptions are clear enough for the reader to envision what is happening in the story, but some details are left to the reader’s imagination. Also, thanks to the author’s effective use of literary devices, such as exposition and foreshadowing, I found myself guessing and trying to solve the mysteries that began to emerge. In terms of religion, Christianity is discussed in the book. The text contains a few instances where vulgar language is used. Additionally, sexual abuse, sexual acts, and violence are mentioned but not explicitly. Nevertheless, sensitive readers will want to keep this in mind. The book appears to be professionally edited because I only found 1 error. My sole complaint is that there is no table of contents. The inclusion of this feature would have made it easier to track and pace my reading progress.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much this story resonated with me and how relevant the themes were to occurrences in my own personal life. At times, the more upsetting topics were a bit difficult to read about, but those passages made the story even more realistic and impactful. Matthew Tysz succeeds in his mission to entertain, and he rekindled my passion for fantasy fiction. I became completely engrossed in the story, and I began to ponder the mysteries of the universe. Therefore, I am pleased to award We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies 4 out of 4 stars. I highly recommend this book to fans of well-written fantasy and science fiction stories. Steampunk aficionados may also enjoy this novel. However, due to the mature content within, it is more suitable for older teenagers and adults. In any case, I am anxious to read the rest of the series!
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon