4 out of 4 stars
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Have you ever wondered what would happen if someone like Harry Potter moved to a slightly more advanced Westeros? Well, look no further. We Are Voulhire: A New Arrival Under Great Skies by Matthew Tysz is exactly that.
Galen Bray (our figurative “Chosen One”) escapes the war-torn Land of the Princes when his estranged uncle reaches out to him. He moves to Voulhire to claim his inheritance. Voulhire is the one country everyone wants to go to. It’s advanced, intellectual and, above all, safe. Turns out there’s a lot more lurking under Voulhire’s pretty picture. At the same time, we follow the story of Lord Eldus Alderman. He is given a Lordship over Hillport and tasked with making right the wrongs committed by its previous rulers.
You can read We Are Voulhire in one of two ways: You can read it as a story and follow where it leads you. Or, you can sink into the pages and explore the book’s deeper messages.
On the surface of it, the story seems simple enough in comparison to a lot of other fantasy novels. The story is captivating and, for the most part, easy to follow. There are moments where the story seemed to drag along, as well as chapters I just wanted to speed through to get to the good parts. This might be the only noteworthy complaint I have about the book.
The real magic happens when you look a little deeper into the story. There are so many little philosophies and commentaries scattered through its pages. My personal favourite of these is when Lord Eldus's son equates his task of "inspiring the people" to manipulation. It's two lines in the book; no more than 11 words. However, it made me stop reading to consider the idea.
Something that grabbed my attention, and probably the thing I liked most about this book, was how Tysz used first and third person narration interchangeably. It’s something I’ve never come across. Each shift in narration changes the reader’s personal perspective of the story. Most of the story is written in the third person and it lets you observe everything that happens objectively. Galen’s story alone is written in the first person. That, to me, brings his naivety and innocence to the front even more than his story arc already does. Galen is new to Voulhire. He doesn’t know this land and its customs. We know nothing about this world Tysz created either. We learn along with Galen. We’re given a subjective experience as a part of the story.
That being said, despite Galen being singled out like that, the story isn’t necessarily about him. We Are Voulhire seems to be one of those books where everyone picks a favourite perspective. Some people are more interested in Galen’s story, others prefer reading about Lord Eldus and Hillport. Some care more about the King and Voulhire’s politics, others would rather read about the dark wizard Meldorath.
This is a great book for people who want something a little deeper than the average story. I would also recommend this to someone who wants to start exploring the fantasy genre but doesn’t know where to start. There are very few errors and most of them are nothing more than typos. The author’s style is, plainly said, eloquent.
All in all, I give this book 4 out of 4 stars. Yes, there are errors and, yes, there are some parts that trudged along. But, overall the book was such a great experience, I had to read it twice before sitting down to write this.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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