For generations the Ugaro of the winter country have traded peacefully with the Lau of the summer lands. But now a fatal mistake has created bitterness and hatred on both sides of the river, threatening to destroy a peace that has become tenuous.
Nikoles Ianan realizes, too late, that he should have prevented his own people’s unforgivable trespass – he should at least have tried. Now it seems impossible for a single Lau soldier to do anything to prevent the escalating tragedy … until the most famous scepter-holder of the summer country arrives.
Lord Aras Samaura has urgent tasks waiting elsewhere and little time to forge a new peace before bitterness turns to outright war. He’ll need luck – and all the help he can get from a young Lau soldier with a unique connection to the Ugaro people and the determination to do whatever he must to atone for his mistake.
Rachel Neumeier started writing fiction to relax when she was a graduate student and needed a hobby unrelated to her research. Prior to selling her first fantasy novel, she had published only a few articles in venues such as The American Journal of Botany. However, finding that her interests did not lie in research, Rachel left academia and began to let her hobbies take over her life instead.
She now raises and shows dogs, gardens, cooks, and occasionally finds time to read. She works part-time for a tutoring program, though she tutors far more students in Math and Chemistry than in English Composition.
While this is set before the events of book one, it really is best to read this after. This goes into greater detail of some of the events Nikoles tells Ryo about in Tuyo, as well as how Nikoles met Lord Aras and ended up in his service and how he learned that . We also learn some surprising things about Nikoles's grandmother, and why he learned to speak Ryo's language.
However, this was a bit slow, or the plot just didn't interest me as much, even when I finally had time to read it, and I did skim some parts of the last few chapters. Once the initial conflict between the winter people and the summer people was resolved, switching gears to being on the road and learning his new command seemed a bit anti-climatic, and the battle at the end with was a bit rushed, even with the reveal that
This is a prequel to Tuyo, so Ryo is sadly missing. Instead we follow Nikoles, a commander in the Lau forces. He's trying to find his way during a fair bit of an international incident. I say "international" but it's between the North and the South.
The Lau are the southern people while the Ugaro are the northern; current events in this story have their hatred, mistrust and violence against each other rapidly escalating. The Lau were actually the instigators when the situation had already been very precarious between the two. Nikoles is aware of this, but he is in an untenable position serving under the asinine Lord Maiokes.
Lord Aras, one of the two main characters from Tuyo, arrives to lend his hand in straightening out the whole mess. Nikoles finds himself in a quandary since he starts to feel more loyalty to Aras than his own bigoted lord. Furthermore, he feels a responsibility towards the Ugaro for his involvement in the unjustified provocation and violence that has occurred. He also has a tie to them via his deceased grandmother.
Nikoles is an honorable sort, so he was pleasant to be around, reader-wise. And I really like Aras from the first book. But this one had a somewhat different feel from the first. I guess it would have to be different since it is from a Lau's point of view rather than an Ugaro's. The latter have a unique way of looking at things. So despite this being a good and well-written book, it wasn't as absorbing for me as Tuyo. That one, highlighting the culture clash via Aras and Ryo, was spectacular. I can also see some people actually preferring this one over the other. It depends upon a reader's preferences.
I bought the others in the series so I will be reading the rest!
4.5 stars, because I liked it slightly less than Tuyo, and that's just because Ryo isn't in it, which isn't Nikoles's fault, but there you go. If you liked Tuyo, you'll want to read this anyway, and you will definitely enjoy it. (It does have Aras in it.)
(This one happens before Tuyo, and you could read it first, I suppose, but then it would spoil certain things about Tuyo, so all things considered, I think you should read them in publication order.)
Nikoles is a character study, a coming-of-age, or coming-of-realization story about a young man who is finally given the opportunity to act on the justice he has always believed in. Like Tuyo, it's about clashing cultures and the honesty and humility required to understand a different culture. Like all of Neumeier's work, it's also about power and honour and loyalty. I happen to think it's very sexy when powerful people act honourably, and this book is about Nikoles discovering what it looks like when a very powerful man uses his power with wise discretion. I loved the choices that realization inspires in Nikoles. A very satisfying story about a complex character deciding who he wants to be.
I have never encountered a book by this author that was not excellent. Every one of them is engaging and well done. I very seldom follow an author wherever they lead, but this is an exception. Try any of her stories, they are excellent. One of the things that she does that I appreciate is to tell the side stories of all of the interesting characters in their own separate books. This gives a fullness and multidimensional aspect to her books.
I found this soldier's eye view of the efforts to end an emotionally overcharged situation threatening to erupt into a bloody border war to be fascinating. Nikoles' contributions, both to the creation of the unhappy conflict and to the resolution of it, inspires me to believe that not only is redemption possible, but that one person in the right place can made all the difference, good or bad. The characters, the societies, the interaction of two different peoples and cultures - the author did a great job creating a wonderfully readable and attention-grabbing story in a carefully detailed and believable world with a frontier feel. This may be weird, but I think fans of J.T. Edson or Louis L'Amour may find this series worth exploring.
It seems a little odd to be to have the second book in a series be a prequel about a somewhat minor character from the first book, especially when we know the gist of the story already. I actually almost put this down because the first section is kind of depressing to read, as the winter tribes and the summer nations are having increasingly escalating conflicts, mainly bc the summer people are bigoted assholes. Just unpleasant stuff. Eventually the good leader from the previous book comes into things, and we get to see him solve a conflict, and see how the main character came to be one of his commanders. And that was all fine. Just not as engrossing as the first book. B+.
A little character study into one of the secondary characters from Tuyo. Though chronologically earlier than Tuyo, it definitely needs to be read after, especially because of one major spoiler.
Nikoles asks similar questions as Tuyo, perhaps more difficult ones. It's about a young man complicit in a horrible atrocity, borne out of anger and prejudice. How do you atone for such crimes? Can you? (You can't, but you have to try. Maybe you are damned, but you have to try.) Nikoles asks questions about forgiveness and redemption and blame and finding one's place in an oft cruel world. It's not particularly quick-paced or action-filled, but it's more about Nikoles coming into Aras' service and how he became who he was in Tuyo.
Speaking of Aras, it was a delight to see him again, see him younger, see him from the perspective of a Lau soldier instead of an Ugaro youth. I'm still obsessed with and fascinated by his character and demand more. It's no secret that I love characters that are too clever by half and burdened by power, but also by conscience and kindness, weariness and sorrow. It's about Duty but it's also about Kindness and inspiring righteous devotion and change (and it's also about being charming and maybe a little bit sad and lonely. Call it the batman/bruce wayne instinct).
A sequel to the earlier book, Tuyo. I wound up enjoying this book more than I anticipated from its beginning. I hate torture scenes and this book open with a scene of men being whipped to death. Thank goodness, the central character, Nikoles, steps in to stop it and realizes he never should have allowed it to start. So whew! That event triggers a string of retaliations between the winter country and the summer country until the king’s representative, his scepter holder, arrives to sort things out. The scepter holder also appeared in Tuyo, and I found him an interesting character in that book too. Nikoles gradually realizes that he needs to move on from where he is and find a wider life in the service of the scepter holder. Recommended.
As always, Rachel Neumeier’s ability to engage the reader, this time in a “prequel” to her book, “Tuyo,” is unrivaled, ( but read “Tuyo” first.) This story shows how an important sub-character came into the employ of the powerful, yet mostly clandestine sorcerer Aras, Lord Gaur.
It was marvelous to visit the borderlands again, and to remember the winter lands through Nickoles Ianan’s grandmother’s memories. My only complaint was that it was far too short a read! More! Morel
I enjoyed this book even more than the first, despite it being a prequel novella centered around a side character from Tuyo. As Tuyo was from Ryo’s perspective, it was very Ugaro-focused; it was really interesting to hear a Lau perspective and particularly another perspective on Aras. I loved the plot, which was essentially a hostage negotiation with a courtly intrigue vibe, and I can see how the last third of the book could lead directly to the events of Tuyo. My only regret is that I won’t get to see more of Nikoles after this, but there are always rereads.
The writing is so tight and clear. The grammar and word usage is close to perfection. The stories a unique & relational. About people living their lives and the conflicts are people conflicts. They tell stories of choices and have to learn from consequences - and characters that grow in the midst of adversities. They could use more magic. But then I love magic... And dragons!
This is another solid tale by Ms. Neumeier. This is the second book in the series although the events in it take place before the events in Tuyo. I recommend reading this book after reading the first book because the first book provides a lot more information about the cultures and beliefs of the two countries. Having this knowledge adds extra depth to this story.
I loved reading Tuyo and now Getting insight from Nikoles. The clash between cultures, and the discovery that two different peoples could be more alike than they realized. Rachel Neumeier captures the differences and the coming together of each individual as well as each group beautufully. I look forward to reading more books by this author. I highly recommend this series.
I was worried that I would not like this prequel novel as much without Ryo in it, but my worries were unfounded. Just as beautifully written and accomplished as the first. Although it is a prequel story, it is a full-length novel, with a satisfying emotional arc of its own, and could easily be read before Tuyo, although I don't recommend it. (It would spoil some of Tuyo's suspense). It is a more bittersweet book than Tuyo, but is similarly uplifting and exquisitely told.
I definitely thought this was a novella when I started this and was surprised to find out it was a full-length book, but I enjoyed it! It didn't have the same complicated loyalty dynamics as Tuyo, but it was still a fast read with some good character and worldbuilding stuff. Actually, I want a book about Nikoles' grandma now.
I don't usually read books concerning soldiers and war. But I liked this soldier right away. The character was well developed and I could understand his reasoning. I was amazed at the consideration for civilians. I liked this book and will read more in the series.
Prequel to Tuyo. I quite enjoyed the first half of the story (part I) but part II felt either like an unneeded add on or an underdeveloped book of its own. I guess the heart of the story was How Nikoles came to trust and work for Lord Gaur rather than How an particular Ugaro/Lau conflict was resolved, so it may be that I went in with the wrong expectations.
First person personal account of Nikoles introduction to Lord Gaur, in two high stakes adventures that would change his life forever. Maintains the emotional depth of Tuyo in a shorter story from a good Lau's perspective.
It took me a while to be ready to read this. I needed some distance from book 1 to cope. But it was equally enthralling. The only weird thing is that this feels like a book and a follow up novella, but it's not divided that way so you just turn a page to get from one to the other.
I found Nikoles a harder character to get into, which dampened my enjoyment a little bit. Nonetheless, this is still an excellent addition to the Tuyo series. Aras is featured in this, but unfortunately we don't really learn anything new about him, or really gain any insight into what's in his head, which is slightly disappointing. I actually am quite curious about Nikoles' grandma now, and would love to read that tale one day.