4 out of 4 stars
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Matthew Tysz’s We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies, his first instalment in the science-fiction We Are Voulhire series, is a thrilling, deeply immersive introduction to the land of Voulhire and its inhabitants - both good and, more often than not, bad. Right from the start I was presented with a map which left me with an immediate appreciation for the depth of world-building put in by the author. Despite frequently encountering new characters, locations and all the various names to remember, this proved fairly easy with each chapter portrayed from a different point of view. On the one hand, there is the omniscient narrator following multiple established political members of Voulhire, and on the other we have our protagonist, Galen Bray, guiding us through with a first-person narrative. I liked this choice, feeling it allowed me to have a more personal relationship with each character and become more invested in their individual stories.
Galen, originally from the war-ridden Land of the Princes, finds himself journeying to a new life in Voulhire as a blacksmith. Instantly a likeable character, I got to experience everything alongside him thanks to the stream of consciousness style of writing. Readers, like Galen, are innocent and seeing the new world through his eyes. However, the dark side of Voulhire and the universe it resides in are quickly exposed. Perhaps Galen’s new friends, Rowan and Demetrius, are more than they seem and as Eldus Alderman, newly appointed Lord of Hillport, works to improve the little fishing town, perhaps the reported death of dark mage and previous cruel Lord of Hillport, Meldorath, isn’t going to make things so easy after all.
Easily one of my favourite things about this book was its dialogue, and I thought it the strongest part of Tysz’s writing. Despite tackling serious topics like war and politics, the dialogue remains fast-paced and often humorous throughout, littered with enjoyable tongue-in-cheek quips thanks to several comedic characters.
I did think some of the novel, especially at the beginning, to be a little stilted in parts. Although the simple language and style of writing allowed me to follow along easily without confusion, at times there was a lot of repetition which I disliked and found to be somewhat jarring. Luckily however, this did not at all detract from the well-thought-out plot nor the tension Tysz creates. In fact, at the climax of the novel, I was eagerly reading along on the edge of my seat.
Overall, I would rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. There were some instances of sexual content and frequent use of profanities but it is very well edited and a great read for fantasy/sci-fi lovers. Readers are promised the beginning of an adventure in an exciting, intricate world and it does not disappoint, earning this top score from me. I will definitely be searching for the rest of the We are Voulhire series for me to read.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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