Welcome to my Den of Delights! Please make yourselves comfortable.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

REVIEW: Froi of the Exiles (#2 Lumatere Chronicles) by Melina Marchetta

5 of 5 Stars!!!

Melina Marchetta is the Queen of Richly Developed, Real, and Complex Characters in YA!


‘They call her Quintana the cursemaker. The last female born to Charyn, eighteen years past.

Reginita, she claims to be. The little Queen. Recipient of the words writ on her chamber wall, whispered by the gods themselves. That those born last will make the first, and blessed be the newborn king, for Charyn will be barren no more.

And so it comes to be that each autumn since the fifteenth day of weeping, a lastborn son of Charyn visits the palace in a bid to fulfil the prophecy. But fails each time.

They weep for fear of hurting her. But she has no tears for herself. ‘Come along,’ she says briskly. ‘Be quick. I’ll try to think of other things, but if your mouth touches mine, I will cut it out.’

Most nights she concentrates on the contours of the ceiling, where light from the Oracle’s godhouse across the gravina shines into her chamber. She holds up a hand and makes shapes in the shadows. And inside of her, in the only place she can hide, Quintana sings her song.

And somewhere beyond the stone that is Charyn, the blood of a lastborn sings back to her.’

WOW. As with the powerful opening scene of On the Jellicoe Road, Melina Marchetta had me totally gripped with the Prologue of Froi of the Exiles. I found myself already aching and devastated for Quintana of Charyn. Quintana is one of the most fascinating YA female protagonists... But I’ll get more into that a bit later…

Aussie author, Melina Marchetta, is one of my absolute favourite YA authors! But to classify her Lumatere Chronicles series as just YA Fantasy would not do it justice. Melina Marchetta’s stories and characters are intricate, well-written and complex enough for Adults to appreciate. Melina Marchetta is well deserving of the multiple awards she has been nominated for, and won, over the years (including the American Library Association’s Michael L. Printz Award of Excellence in Young Adult Literature in 2009 for On the Jellicoe Road, and the Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Novel for Finnikin of the Rock).

Froi of the Exiles (Froi), the sequel to Finnikin of the Rock (Finnikin), was released here in Australia on 3 October 2011. It was the day I dropped my parents off at the airport. I was sad to see my parents leave, but what better comfort than a Melina Marchetta book! (Though "comfort" is not quite the right word, as this is a darker book than her previous works... darker even than The Piper's Son, though that was a difficult book to read, for personal reasons - Still amazing, though!). I COULD NOT WAIT to get my hands on Froi, such that I paid the AUD$26.99 that they were charging for it (and I admit, I SQUEE-ed, a little, because they had it at the airport ^_^). It would have been cheaper at the bookstore, but I didn’t want to waste time. I wanted to… Get. Right. Into. Froi!

The dark blood red cover, with the hilly, rocky kingdom in the background, Froi’s profile in shadow, and he’s… shirtless??? Say, what??? Whoa. And he has this foreign (almost elvish-like) writing across his right shoulder blade...and there are shiny red flower patterns around the title... I loved the cover and walked to the car, tempted to whisper, “My precious, my precioussss…” Seriously, THAT’S how happy I was to be holding Froi in my hands! LOL

The US Cover has another sword on the cover - What is it with US covers and SWORDS??? The image of Froi is lovely, though, with his piercing eyes...

Froi of the Exiles, like all of Melina Marchetta’s books, did not disappoint. It enthralled me, had me holding my breath, smiling, my heart aching, racing and even had me weeping – tears of sorrow and joy. 

Froi is almost twice the size of Finnikin. It’s BIG! (Get your mind out of the gutter! Oh, wait... that’s me! LOL) I was pulled in…no, enveloped into … every single one of its 593 pages! Melina Marchetta is like a spellcaster, whose words wrap around me and I am transported into the landscape of the Land of Skuldenore, immersed in the languages, the people, and cultures of the various kingdoms.

The landscape of Charyn is inspired by Cappadocia in Turkey

Three years after the events in Finnikin of the Rock, Froi has found his home... Or so he believes...

Froi was not what one would describe as an admirable or endearing character in Finnikin. He was downright feral, and I was interested to see what Ms Marchetta would do with his character when I found out that he was the subject of the sequel. Froi has come a long way since Finnikin. I highly recommend you read these books in order. It is essential to fully appreciate the complexity of Froi and the growth that he goes through as a person, as well as the journey of the cast of other amazing characters.

Froi is rough; he grew up on the streets, stole to survive, and it was a chance meeting at the slave traders market with Finnikin and Evanjalin that changed his life. As a result of the acceptance he found with Finnikin and crew, Froi became fiercely loyal to them.

Froi is ashamed of his past and fears that there is a monster of great baseness living within him. For this reason, he steers clear of the girls of Lumatere. He is impulsive and quick tempered and has been trained by the Captain of the Guard to count to ten before doing or saying anything. Froi counts a lot. And despite his coarseness, Froi has a sharp mind and an affinity for languages. But it was his moments of compassion and tenderness (which he considers himself incapable of), especially with Quintana, that really got to me and won me over.

In this sequel, Froi is sent into the enemy kingdom of Charyn on a secret mission.

His mission involves the half-mad Princess of Charyn, Quintana, with her tangled, bird’s nest hair, crooked teeth, eyes that squint and stare unabashedly, filthy clothing, and strange, crazy way of talking. As I mentioned, Quintana is one of the most fascinating YA female protagonists I have ever come across...and my heart ached for her. She is an interesting mixture of vulnerability and strength, ferocity, cynicism and wonder, conflicting multiple personalities, and is…quite mad, really. Yes, that’s right. She’s mad. Having that glimpse of what she suffered in the prologue, you can understand, to some extent, her madness, though, right? But there is much more to the story…

I won’t go into the plot except to say that there are plots within plots and twists, and it is tightly written, as I would expect from Melina Marchetta. There are multiple storylines with scenes weaving back and forth between the going-ons in Lumatere and in Charyn, keeping me intrigued.

Being drawn into one of Melina Marchetta’s stories is like watching an intricate, beautifully choreographed dance, which is performed with such raw emotion, moves you to tears, and leaves you in awe… And you want to watch and experience it all over again.

The love story between Froi and Quintana is… startling – I mean, when you read about these characters, you wonder how these two damaged people could fall in love - but there is an aching beauty to it. Melina Marchetta said on her website that “Froi's love story was the most difficult because I had to find the beauty in a relationship that begins out of deceit for one, and duty for another.”

There is more than one love story in Froi of the Exiles. We get to see Finnikin and his love in their marriage (so sweet and sexy!), Lucian of the Monts and the wife he didn’t want (I can’t wait to read more about them!), and Trevanion and Beatriss who broke my heart with the wounds of the past that threatened to keep them apart… and we also get to meet some really interesting new characters!
‘ ‘Ask me,’ she cried. ‘Ask me something. You never ask me of the past and without questions, I can’t speak, Trevanion. These unspoken words choke me inside.’

He looked at her, shaking his head with despair at not being able to release the words himself.’

‘What do you want me to ask you, Beatriss?’ he said, anguish in his voice.’

Melina Marchetta’s stories always have strong themes of loss, separation, family, friendships, community, love, belonging, and growth of self that have moved me so much, as she interweaves the story with such a realness, and magic, all at the same time. Her characters matter to me. I feel their pain, their hope, their anger, their fears, their love, and their need to belong - to a love, a family, a people, a place.
“If we forget who we lost, then we forget who we once were, and if we forget who we once were, we lose sight of who we are now.”
If you’ve never read a book by Melina Marchetta then you are really missing out!

Warning: This books ends in a cliffhanger. I knew this before reading it but it sure didn’t stop me!

I am VERY EXCITED for Quintana of Charyn to be released next year!! *bounces*
‘‘Is your queen what you are searching for in a woman, Froi?” Grijio asked.

Froi thought for a moment. ‘I never imagined I was looking for something in a woman. But if I did, I’d have to judge her by the way I felt laying beside her before I went to sleep at night and how I felt in the morning waking up to her.’

‘Oh, too profound, my friend,’ Olivier mocked. ‘Much too profound.’’
The Lumatere Chronicles Reading Order:

1. Finnikin of the Rock - My Review Here
2. Froi of the Exiles - US Release 13 March 2012
3. Quintana of Charyn - Australia Release October 2012
Froi is capable of compassion and tenderness
...even if he doesn't think so...
But Froi is fierce and he grew up wild...
Princess Quintana has tangled, bird's nest hair...

And she has multiple personalities...
But she is more than she seems...

My Froi -Thomas Dekker
My Quintana - Hannah Murray 

The photo of Cappadocia, Turkey, is from Melina Marchetta's website (link below). Interesting Info: Melina Marchetta will be travelling around Europe for further research to fine tune the landscape for Quintana of Charyn:

No comments:

Post a Comment