4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies by Matthew Tysz is the first book in a long-running series. Currently there are five books that have been released with a promise of four more to come. This installment acts as an introduction to the country of Voulhire.
The main character, Galen, is taken from his homeland of war and poverty to a country that offers more opportunity and comfort. He traveled by ship to a seaside town called Magnum Caelum, where he inherited his uncle's home and business. Unfortunately, he didn’t arrive before his uncle passed away. Before his death, his uncle hired a capable man to ensure that Galen arrive in Magnum Caelum and that he has everything he could possibly need to begin his new life. Galen learns that his uncle was a famous blacksmith and decides to learn the craft through a tome his uncle left behind. While Galen settles in, there is unrest brewing between two nearby towns. While he may have just escaped a country of war, he may soon find that his new home is not so different.
This book takes its time to teach the reader about the land of Voulhire. Slowly but surely, we visit nearly every town and city on the map which is provided before chapter one. It can get a bit confusing as the chapters switch between characters and towns, so the map was beneficial in that regard. It felt like Tysz let his ideas pour all over the pages, so we are left with a book that is solely meant to teach us about this place. Reading any other book in the series without reading this one first would be extremely confusing.
I enjoyed the almost alien feeling this book gave me at first. Going in, I thought I was being presented a generic medieval world, but that is not what I ended up receiving. While the technology appears to be at a medieval level, there are other things in the country of Voulhire I didn’t expect. Voulhire has lawyers, psychologists, courtroom judges, and other occupations that we are familiar with in modern-day. While they may have had vague ideas of these occupations in real medieval times, in Voulhire, they are practiced professionals.
What I liked most about this book was the unique universe it places us in. If you are someone who enjoys a story with dense lore, this would probably spark your interest. The magic system is mysterious but also well thought out. We learn about troublesome mages who specialize in biology, which means they can do anything they want with their victim’s bodily fluids. Trust me, they get creative. It has also been mentioned that the source of magic doesn’t come from their world, but mages are able to use their bodies as vessels of transport from the magic world. While I still have a lot of questions about how the magic works, I feel like this was intended and that I would learn more about it if I read the next book.
There was only one thing about this book that I disliked most, and it was the back and forth changing of the point of view. When a chapter was in Galen’s perspective, it was written in the first person. When a chapter was in the perspective of anyone else, it was written in the third person. Generally, I’m not a fan of first-person, but I will still read a book written that way if it’s interesting enough. I tend to believe stories read better in third-person, but having them both back to back like this made Galen’s chapters a sore spot for me. They felt weaker in comparison to the others, and I found myself wishing the author had stuck to one thing. I understand Galen’s chapters may have been written this way to make them feel more personal. The author wants us to relate and pay attention to Galen the most. It was an artistic choice, but a risky one in my opinion. Even though I kept reading, I could see this scaring off other potential readers.
I’m going to give this book a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. While I really didn’t like the point of view issue, I also felt like that is just a personal preference for me rather than an actual problem with the story itself. I eventually got over it and enjoyed reading from cover to cover, so it didn’t feel negative enough to affect the sore. The editing was flawless as I did not find one grammatical or spelling error.
I feel like both adults and teenagers could enjoy this book as long as they don’t mind the point of view shift. Anyone who likes a good and long fantasy series should definitely pick this up at some point. There are some instances of swearing, but it was mostly from one character and overall didn’t pull away from the creativity of the book. This author took baseline fantasy ideas and made them his own, and I think that makes this book worth sharing with other people.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon