Three years after the curse on Lumatere was lifted, Froi has found his home … or so he believes. Fiercely loyal to the Queen and Finnikin, Froi has been taken roughly and lovingly in hand by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper with a warrior’s discipline. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds in its surreal royal court. Soon he must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad princess in this barren and mysterious place. It is in Charyn that he will discover there is a song sleeping in his blood … and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen.
Once again I find myself at a loss for words and I do believe I’m suffering from Marchetta Fever. If you’ve read any book by her, you may know the symptoms yourself: First it’s the euphoria that sets in right after you complete the book. Then, you find yourself thinking about the book long after you finish. You have the inability to form a single, coherent thought to review the book. And in the final stages, your palms go sweaty with the need for the next book. There is a reason why Marchetta is considered a master storyteller and if that wasn’t evident enough for me in Finnikin of the Rock, then it’s now blatantly obvious.
Froi of the Exiles takes place a few years after Finnikin of the Rock’s conclusion and is told from Froi’s point of view. At first, I was leery of that fact because I really disliked Froi in Finnikin due to the rape attempt on Isaboe. How do you redeem a character that was once viewed as a monster? I didn’t know if it were possible to pull it off or pull it off well, but I was wrong. Froi has come a long way since Finnikin and I think the other character’s views on Froi really played a big part in my ability to connect with him. For example, we learn in the beginning that he’s made a bond with Isaboe to never take another woman by force. Yet, he goes further and says he never will take a woman because he doesn’t trust himself. With each chapter, I saw Froi battling his inner demons. But what’s even more interesting is that, for me, Froi’s redemption came through Quintana’s characterization. Because, for Froi, Quintana is the product of what his actions could have created and at the same time falling in love with this very broken girl. I could go on and on about that dynamic, but I’ll suffice to say that the character growth in Froi of the Exiles is phenomenal.
The plotting was nothing short of sheer brilliance. I’ve said this before, but the only other author that I find comparable to this level of plotting is J.K. Rowling. While I did find the pacing slower than Finnikin, there were so many twists and revelations that kept me on the edge of my seat. We learn more about Froi’s past and I’m still blown how it all came together. There is simply no way to predict anything in this novel. And sometimes I feel like with being an avid reader, you get to the point where you start recognizing certain plot trends and twists. So by the time something is being revealed, it doesn’t really shock you. But not with Marchetta. Her plot was woven so thick, I had to take it in piece by piece.
By the end of the novel, I felt the same as I did with Finnikin. I felt like I had gone on such an intense emotional journey because so many events had taken place and I needed time to process everything. I loved everything about this book and though, right after finishing I hungered for Quintana of Charyn, I knew I simply couldn’t read The Lumatere Chronicles back to back. I’ll need to take a mini break before I dive into the conclusion that is sure to turn me into a swirling vortex of emotions. And that, in my humble opinion, is the true mark of a fantastic series.
ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley. (I’m just really late in getting to it.)