#SPFBO Review : Tuyo by Rachel Neumeier (Tuyo #1)

Posted On 25 October 2020

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: , , ,

Comments Dropped 10 responses

Artboard 1

300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.

You can find my updates for batch 1batch 2batch 3, Batch 4 and Batch 5 by clicking on the  links.  My recent update in which I announced further cuts and two semi-finalists can be found here.

This is my final review for the 10 books I rolled forward for SPFBO.  Following this I will post an update for the past five books at which point I will make cuts and select my next semi-finalists.  On the 28th I hope to announce my finalist.

TuyoTuyo was another very impressive read from this batch.  The writing is really good, there’s a good story and some interesting world building but the two central characters really stole the show for me.

As the story begins we meet Ryo inGara.  Ryo has been left by his war leader as a Tuyo.  Basically, a sacrifice left to appease the enemies and allow the rest of the tribe to make their escape.  I have to say that Ryo has a great voice and I was immediately hooked by his plight.  Within fairly short order we also meet the other MC – Aras, Warlord of the Lau.  Ryo’s fate lies in the hands of this enemy Warlord and, no matter the outcome, he can only hope that he doesn’t shame his family.

In terms of the plot, and I don’t think this is a spoiler at all, Aras decides to keep Ryo as a translator and advisor.  The Lau and the Ugaro lived relatively peacefully alongside each other until recent troubles seemed to have spiked and caused unrest.  The Ugaro live in the Winter lands where cold snaps can be deadly.  The Lau live in the summer countries where the heat can be intense and heat sickness and death is a real possibility. Both these lands sit on opposite sides of a river – I realise this seems a little unlikely but I decided to go with the set up and not question it too deeply and to be honest it didn’t seem unlikely at all as I was reading and this is a fantasy novel after all and one in which magic plays a role.  As the story begins to unfold and Ryo and Aras learn more of each other’s customs it becomes apparent that a third party is actually a bigger risk to the Lau and the Ugaro and in order to survive the two may have to overcome their mutual distrust.

To be honest that last part encapsulates so much of what makes this book a good read. The Ugaro and the Lau are so very different and the author does a really good job of getting across the culture and lifestyles of both.  It’s these very differences of course that cause fear and distrust and this is a winning element of the story – watching the gradual change as both characters learn more about each other’s way of life.

Aras, as it turns out, is able to perform magic, in fact it seems that many of the Lau had minor abilities in this respect, but Aras is much more powerful than even his close friends are aware of.  His magic relates  predominantly to mind control and although I would love to go into this aspect more thoroughly I’m conscious of spoiling the read for others so I’ll leave it at that. Suffice to say there are some interesting elements that arise as a result of the magic which helps to create some unique situations.

The characters.  Well Ryo and Aras are central to the plot and in fact Ryo narrates the story.  Both are very easy to like.  They both share a strong sense of honour and obligation and both are prepared to learn more in order to overcome their prejudices.  Watching the two in their own environment and then observing them when they’re out of their comfort zones was really interesting. The Lau feel a little more typical fantasy fare, they reminded me a little of the Romans and their legions although I guess you could liken them to any empire with an organised and disciplined army.  There was focus on how their army camps operate and mostly this was easy to imagine.  I really liked the amount of thought that the author gave to the Ugaro and their customs and rituals.  This aspect was really fascinating.  Particularly as the action ramped up and war counsels were organised.  Meeting Ryo’s family was really interesting and I loved all the interactions.

In terms of criticisms.  I have very little to be honest.  I think the point I mentioned above about the different places being so strictly defined is a little unusual at first, I mean, literally, cross a river and find major change.  To be fair, I didn’t really find it an issue but maybe worth a mention.

Overall this was a very enjoyable read.  Friendships and trust where you least expect, overcoming differences and prejudices and really great characters.

I received a copy from the author for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.