4 out of 4 stars
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We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies by Matthew Tysz isn't a novel about just one character - it's about an entire nation. Voulhire is a nation in its golden age, trying to continue to make progress in terms of prosperity and happiness - but only a select few know about the country's deepest darkest secret.
Voulhire is arguably, truly about Galen Bray. At twenty-eight years old, he is an immigrant to Voulhire from the Lands of the Princes - a war-torn nation where you're either useful in supplying/supporting the military, or you are cannon fodder in the brothers' fight for sovereignty. While Galen is ignorant of the master workings of his new homeland, it is his perspective alone that is in first-person. We additionally get to see the world from the eyes of King Wilhelm, Lord Eldus Alderman, Isla Alderman, First Knight Midius Maido, Beth of Caromentis, Host Vidius Crodai, Captain Barcaedi, Head Servant Beverly, those that interact with Alabaster de Lasette, and the short-lived agents of the Mianoran order - but they are all narrated in limited third-person. If we assume that innocent Galen is the main character because of the first-person narration, then all of the other characters serve as a stark contrast to that innocence - we get to see the depth and the corruption of wider Voulhire, and piece together the mystery of General Meldorath.
With Voulhire only being 138 pages, one would think and expect there to be little world-building or little action. Tysz somehow manages to give the reader both an in-depth exploration of this alternate universe and enough action to keep the reader interested without sacrificing character development. This universe that Tysz created is intriguing because some things point to it being like ours - ice hockey, parade floats, health retreat spas, etc. However, there are also differences outside of the apparent (country and city names, monarchies, etc.), namely, magic and the parallel dimension, Caromentis, that magic comes from. Additionally, some people are even able to manipulate physics in the "regular" dimension, Cosmos, as if it were magic.
I chose to read the PDF version of We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies, which wasn't the best situation. But if you can get it through Kindle Unlimited instead, I 100% recommend it. There's no explicit content, but it does have violence as well as some adult themes and profanity that makes it unsuitable for younger audiences. Trigger warning: there is heavily implied pedophilia, but it's never physically manifested. I'd suggest a minimum age of 16, depending on the reader's comfort level. It is a quick read, and if you're a fan of fantasy, science fantasy, Camelot-esque Europe, mystery and corruption, conspiracy, or clueless main characters that are capable of much more than they currently are, then you'll love Matthew Tysz's series.
I'm giving We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies by Matthew Tysz 4 out of 4 stars. There are a couple of grammar mistakes that are so minor they are almost insignificant; I've seen much worse from more mainstream authors/publishers. My only complaints are that the climax seems drawn out and that you don't know what happens to a particular character. I won't reveal the latter because it is a spoiler, but the former I'm not sure how to resolve.
We switch to Galen immediately after the climax; we need a resolution to Galen's adventures, but he is so separate from the climax, that he feels out of place. And it's not until six pages later (a significant amount of time for such a short novel) that we get our "true" resolution from King Wilhelm. It was at this time that the novel could have appropriately ended, but we are served one last visit from de Lasette. This interaction is the clear set up for the next novel, but it feels out of place. Maybe flip-flopping the order - King Wilhelm then de Lasette then Galen? That would erase the disconnect between climax and resolution and allow our main character to have the "last word," so to speak.
Overall, I loved Voulhire, and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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