2 out of 4 stars
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There are many exciting facets to this book. Too many. The story opens with our naïve but loveable protagonist, Galen. I grew to like Galen, the young man traveling to Voulhire from his war-torn homeland and enjoyed hearing about how he settles into his new town. Next, I was thrown abruptly into a royal courtroom. Disorientated, I think that perhaps King Wilhelm is our main character, as we follow him through a series of somewhat tedious customs and traditions. Yet again, the book switches to a Lord Eldrus and the narrative of his family. It is difficult to be invested in four or five different subplots that barely tie together in the end. Some sequences are interesting, but this intrigue is hard to sustain when the narrative jumps between characters so frequently.
The author clearly has some great ideas about where to take their Voulhire series, but the organization of these ideas is far from perfect. There is a fine line between intrigue and confusion. As Lord Eldrus and his wife move into their new castle, we are initially interested in the former occupants and what has transpired. This suspense morphs into befuddlement as we are confronted with names we have not yet placed and backstories that are not properly explained.
Ironically, the entire history of the castle is then narrated to us in the next chapter, thus, undermining the confusing suspense-building and presenting some truly lazy writing. Eldrus’ daughter literally cries the words “storytime!” as the reader is patronized with a play-by-play tale of what happened in the castle. It is implausible for the daughter to know nothing but her brother to know everything, just to facilitate this filling in of exposition.
Regardless, the book is a relatively fun read with some enjoyable themes of magic, mental manipulation and illusion. However, too many ideas are introduced for it to be a cohesive story. In addition, some bizarre and crude themes are dropped into the narrative without serving any particular purpose. There are frequent references to pedophilia, yet this has absolutely no relevance to the plot. The bio-mage who causes all the members of a court to soil themselves similarly seems gratuitous and distasteful.
The book appears to be professionally edited, yet I can only award it 2 out of 4 stars on account of the numerous issues I’ve described above. Particular fans of fantasy books may enjoy this story more than I did. Indeed, perhaps the rest of the series ties together these disjointed elements and forms a fantastic story, however, I found We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies by Matthew Tysz distinctly unsatisfying.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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