Welcome to my stop for the Tuyo Book Tour with Storyteller’s on Tour!
AUGUST 30TH – THE OPENING
Whispers & Wonder
SEPTEMBER 5TH–THE CLOSING
For more about this tour visit Storytellers On Tour.
Raised a warrior in the harsh winter country, Ryo inGara has always been willing to die for his family and his tribe. When war erupts against the summer country, the prospect of death in battle seems imminent. But when his warleader leaves Ryo as a sacrifice — a tuyo — to die at the hands of their enemies, he faces a fate he never imagined.
Ryo’s captor, a lord of the summer country, may be an enemy . . . but far worse enemies are moving, with the current war nothing but the opening moves in a hidden game Ryo barely glimpses, a game in which all his people may be merely pawns. Suddenly Ryo finds his convictions overturned and his loyalties uncertain. Should he support the man who holds him prisoner, the only man who may be able to defeat their greater enemy? And even if he does, can he persuade his people to do the same?
SERIES: Tuyo (#1)
PUBLISHED: May 22, 2020
GENRE: Epic Fantasy
This is my first experience with Neumeier’s work, and I am so happy to have come across this book! Tuyo is an adult fantasy novel, and while the length is true to this description, it does have the feel of the classic epic fantasy that I grew up reading. The language, tone, and overall progression of the characters lend itself to more of a NA categorization, but this was not a detractor by any stretch.
Character is the primary focus of this work—we follow Ryo inGara after he is left as a sacrifice—a tuyo—as is the cultural norm of his people and is spared by Lord Aras, the warlord who comes upon him at his abandoned camp. Aras spares Ryo in the hopes that they can join together to defeat a plot that utilizes sorcery and threatens both of their lands and peoples. Initially, Ryo feels bound by honor to follow Lord Aras, although they are technically enemies. But as time progresses, their bond grows to genuine friendship and loyalty. Neumeier makes it a specific point throughout that this is a platonic relationship, to the end of being a bit heavy-handed, in my opinion. Despite these jarring insertions, the book’s primary focus is on male platonic relationships and exploring the growth of these two men as they prepare for their goal’s culmination.
World-building is secondary to character, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t substantial. There is an interesting interplay of environmental determinism where cultures are quite literally defined by their geographical locations. Ryo is from the Winter Lands and the Ugaro people who are the people of the moon. Aras is from the Summer Lands and the Lau people. It gets particularly interesting because these tribes have explicitly evolved to only survive in their home climates—if a person from the Summer Lands were to travel into the Winter Lands, they would die of extreme frostbite and hypothermia. Similarly, those from the Winter Lands would die of heatstroke and sun damage if they were to venture into the Summer Lands.
Some other fascinating groups live in the North and South’s further reaches, but it is clear that the focus is primarily on the Summer and Winter. The descriptions of the world and all of these various tribes felt a bit euro-centric, and I find that to be a frustrating trend in epic fantasy in general. However, Neumeier does not succumb to the common pitfall of resorting to thinly veiled prejudices that reflect real-world biases. Despite cultural prejudices that exist, the fact that humanity is shared across all groups is not ever in question.
The writing itself is where I had the biggest hang-ups. The sentence structure and dialogue is formatted in a clipped and formal way. This lends itself to that old-school fantasy feel, but it also made for reading that could be tedious for me. There was a general lack of varied descriptions. Because the novel is so character-based, most of the descriptive energy focuses on these people, and dialogue occupies a considerable part of the narrative space. I also would have liked to see some women in more prominent narrative positions throughout the novel’s entirety. The main thrust of this story is a relationship between two men, but there was a lack of exploration outside of that, and I found it to be a noticeable drawback for me.
All in all, this is an excellent first entry in a series, and I am excited to see how this world is expounded upon and how the storytelling grows.
Rachel Neumeier earned a master’s degree in ecology before deciding she preferred writing fiction to doing research. She now lives in southern Missouri, dividing her time between writing, reading, and gardening, always assisted in all three activities by a lot of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. She has been writing young adult and adult fantasy for twelve years. This is her sixteenth book.