4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
I want to start right off by saying We Are Voulhire: A New Arrival Under Great Skies by Matthew Tysz is a phenomenal book. There are several point-of-view characters throughout the novel, and each one of them has their own story to tell. Galen Bray is the only character whose story is told through first-person events, and although I believe he is meant to be the main character, the events that unfold in the novel itself don’t happen to him at all. The main conflict revolves around a town called Hillport where, only a few months prior, a terrible mage used to rule over the people and do unspeakable things. (Literally; aside from a few brief mentions of hearing screams or finding a gruesome painting, we never find out exactly what he’s done.) A former judge comes to Hillport to make everything better again but finds more questions than answers as he tries.
There really wasn’t much to dislike about the book. I found the changing points-of-view to be a little jarring at first, particularly when it switched to Galen because he’s the only first-person. But as the book continues, it becomes normalized, and I almost became excited to get a first-person insight into what was going on. There are many questions that are left unanswered by the end of the book, but as there are nine scheduled novels in the series, I wasn’t really surprised by this. In some ways, the book was more like an extended prologue, but it held my intrigue long enough and had an actual plot to it, so it wasn’t unnecessary in the least.
As for what I liked about this book, I barely know where to start. The concept of the novel is great, and although there are some expositional bits where a character tells about the past of the kingdom or a group or something, it isn’t completely out of left-field. It always made sense at the moment—characters were often telling Galen things because he’s from a completely different country and knows so little. And while the jumping around was a little jarring at first, it was delightful to see it all coming together. I was able to kind of guess where it was all going to meet up, although the author did so in an unexpected way, so I wasn’t sitting there rolling my eyes.
Nearly all of the characters were fantastic, even the ones that I don’t think you’re supposed to like. The first guy who made me groan was Midius Maido. He’s a politician who says flowery things that are laced with cruelty (in my opinion), and it made me sympathize with King Wilhelm, who has to deal with this guy all the freaking time. And then there were just several witty comments from characters that had me laughing out loud. Rowan, the executor of Galen’s great uncle, was particularly charming, even if he was the kind of guy that seems to attract trouble. After only one chapter, I could already say “what’s Rowan up to now” because I felt like I had known him the entire book.
There aren’t pages upon pages of worldbuilding, and yet I have a pretty good map in my head of the Kingdom of Voulhire. It was easy to track the character’s movements throughout the novel, and I appreciated the sprinkles of information here and there rather than a large info-dump. (I usually skip over such passages because it tends to read like an owner’s manual.) The author has done a fantastic job with creating Voulhire, and I can’t wait to read the other books in the series.
We Are Voulhire is a typical epic fantasy novel, and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the genre. It has a medieval flavor to it, but there is a very intertwined world of magic involved as well that is only just brushed upon in this book. (It’s a mysterious world to begin with, so I think this is done intentionally.) My only warning is that this book is a bit different from a typical novel in that it’s more of a set up to the rest of the series. It does have a plot of its own that makes perfect sense, but you will come out of reading this with some questions left unanswered. If that doesn’t bother you, I would recommend getting this book as soon as possible.
I would rate We Are Voulhire a 4 out of 4 stars. I found very few errors in the book, suggesting that it is professionally edited, and that maybe one or two mistakes made it through the cracks. It’s nothing too major—I would even say that the “errors” are more me nitpicking than true problems with the novel. It truly is a fantastic book, and I have nothing but praise for it.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon