4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
We Are Voulhire: A New Arrival Under Great Skies is a fantasy book by Matthew Tysz, set in a place called Voulhire. This is a fantasy land that seems to be thriving, with a generous king, prosperous cities, and magic. A large part of the story follows the character Galen, who moves to Voulhire from the Lands of the Princes, a deprived kingdom, and he is hopeful that his life will finally start to improve. However, all is not as it seems, as Voulhire has enemies that are beginning to stir…
In the beginning, we are introduced to several different characters, in different places, experiencing different plotlines. I found this had a similar feel to a collection of fairy tales, as each chapter was a new character with a new story unrelated to the last, except for the setting of Voulhire. Eventually these characters began recurring, and the separate stories slowly wove together to form a bigger story, but even in the beginning I found each story interesting in its own right.
The worldbuilding felt natural to me, information revealed throughout the course of the book rather than being introduced all at once. Although this leaves some gaps in knowledge as you read, it made it feel like a discovery of the world, and to me, this is a lot easier to read than books that try to establish all their history and characters within the first few chapters. By the time I was nearing the end of the book, I almost felt like I was piecing together a jigsaw puzzle: as you read on, pieces start to click into place and a bigger picture slowly builds up.
I greatly enjoyed the realm of Voulhire, the people seemed real and human. Even characters who could easily have become caricatures, such as King Wilhelm, had depth. While reading I found myself drawing comparisons to the world of Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher, not in terms of the writing, but rather how the actual world of Voulhire itself had it’s own complex and fleshed out culture, full of politics and magic.
Another thing I liked about the book was the humor. Although not a particularly comedic book, it has its moments, and I did genuinely laugh out loud at one point! From the description, I thought the book would be quite dark, but I was mistaken. There are certainly darker themes addressed, but overall, I would say the characters deal with it in a reasonably light-hearted way, filled with hope, and this made it very enjoyable to read.
As this book is an introduction to the world of Voulhire, it is not particularly fast-paced. There are many moments of action, but the story unfolds rather slowly. Personally, I enjoyed this pace, but people looking to read a book filled with epic battles or something similar should look elsewhere.
I didn’t find any spelling or grammar errors while I was reading, so the book does seem well edited.
There are a couple of things I disliked about this book, both specifically about the writing style, although they were only minor annoyances.
The first of these is the way Tysz describes actions. I like his writing style for the most part, a lot of his descriptions were quite unique. However, this could be a little clunky at times, with over-description or comparisons that don’t quite fit. The worst example of this I found was this sentence: “my brows swung like heavy levers when I emoted with surprise at the sight of myself.”
Secondly, there are some pieces of the book written in third person, and some written in first person. Within the story, the character Galen is written from the first-person perspective, whereas chapters following other characters are written in the third person. I did find it a little jarring to go from reading in the third person to the first person, especially nearer the start of my read through when I hadn’t noticed that it was only Galen written in first person, so I wasn’t sure who’s perspective I was reading from at that point. I will point out that each chapter title does clearly state the character who is being followed for the chapter, so it was no hardship to quickly check, but when you are in the flow of reading, sometimes you just skim the chapter title in your haste to get more of the story!
I would recommend this book to fantasy lovers, for example people who like the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and Terry Pratchett. This is because although I wouldn’t say We Are Voulhire: A New Arrival Under Great Skies is necessarily similar to their books in writing style, it contains many of the fantasy elements common to these writers. However, I think that people who are not usually fans of fantasy would not enjoy this book, as I think they would not be hooked enough to read past the first few chapters where the setting and characters are being established.
In conclusion, I give this book 4 out of 4 stars. The characters were easy to latch onto even while the reader is being introduced to a whole new world, and Voulhire itself is an intriguing mix of politics and magic. I wasn’t hooked completely from the start, but after a few chapters this book really starts to come together, and I am glad I continued reading long enough to really get into it. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
We are Voulhire: A New Arrival under Great Skies
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon