4 out of 4 stars
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We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies by Matthew Tysz is the first in a series of novels about the kingdom of Voulhire and its inhabitants. We loosely follow our main protagonist, Galen, the referenced “new arrival” to the kingdom as he learns about and travels around the kingdom in order to pursue his inherited future career as a blacksmith. The novel also includes other points of view. We hear from people like the king, the head of the knights, the head of the rebel group called the Riva Rohavi, and others. Secondary to Galen’s story, we follow the story of Eldus, the king’s friend who is sent to become the lord of a town (Hillport) that has suffered immensely from the mismanagement of two previous lords. This story provides most of the plot in this book.
The world building in the book was spot-on. Tysz begins by offering a map of the region, but also provides links to his website which has a wealth of information about this world. In the novel itself, Galen brings a perspective that is similar to the reader’s own: a newcomer ignorant in the ways of this world. The other perspectives usher in the plot of this particular novel, showing the various conflicts and groups/individuals working behind the scenes in the kingdom. While Galen’s story doesn’t seem to directly connect with any of theirs at the moment, it is safe to assume that in future novels, he may enter into some of the action.
One of my favorite parts was learning about the town of Hillport and Lord Eldus’s family. There is a real mystery going on there involving the magical influence of Lord Meldorath, the evil sorcerer who was one of the previous lords. I also enjoyed meeting Eldus’s son Marshus. He is a solid mage and also had interesting progressive political leanings. I hope to see him again in the future.
One of my least favorite parts of the book was Galen’s “friend,” Rowan. Rowan is the executor of Galen’s uncle’s will who arranged for Galen to travel to Voulhire. Galen quickly becomes reliant on him as a guide. The first thing Rowan did though was to push Galen into being an amazing blacksmith even though Galen has no clue about his new position. I thought that was illogical and presumptuous. Let him learn first and then he can build up to being the best. Also, as the novel went on, Rowan seemed to lose maturity. He cussed often, often discussed his female conquests, and also used weird immature phrases like “hiney.” He was just a striking contrast to the world that was built in the novel, almost like an overgrown teenager. I also suspect he has ulterior motives and honestly just didn’t like him at all.
As previously mentioned, there are expletives used in the book, particularly through the character of Rowan. There are also some descriptions of sexual acts that occur outside the text and one mentioning of magical intervention as relates to a sexual act. Compared to other similar novels though, this one is fairly tame when it comes to the sexual content. Instead it goes heavy on the violence and gruesome deaths. Due to this violence, I would recommend this book to adult fantasy lovers.
The novel appears to be professionally edited, as what few errors I found were often simply less commonly used forms rather than outright errors. The world building is phenomenal (particularly when you factor in the website) and the characters are engaging. The plot is delightfully unpredictable and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. For that reason I give We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies 4 out of 4 stars.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
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