March 9, 2012

Review: Froi of the Exiles, by Melina Marchetta

Author: Melina Marchetta
Title: Froi of the Exiles
Series: Lumatere Chronicles (#2)
Publisher: Candlewick Press(March 13th 2012)
Disclaimer: Copy received for review purposes.

Buy your copy: Hardcover

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From master storyteller Melina Marchetta comes an exhilarating new fantasy springing from her celebrated epic, Finnikin of the Rock.

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.” GoodReads’ blurb

Finnikin of the Rock was one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. You can read my full review here, but, in short, it was a wonderful tale of very human characters against very human evils. Froi of the Exiles takes up the same mesmerizing prose, the same depth, the same feeling... And doubles it all.

Where Finnikin was, ultimately, a tale about fear and hope, Froi touches on something even more elusive: through the whole adventure, there’s a theme of forgiveness, of mending. It’s about finding the good where our anger made us see evil, it’s about picking up the broken pieces and building a future.

Though this book was shelved under “Juvenile”, I imagine some people will find it an appalling read for the young readers. What Froi finds when he reaches the Charynite court is nothing if not dark – the kind of oily, base dark that sticks to you and makes your heart cringe in your chest. Still, I’d not think twice before handing this book over to my teenager son if I had one. Then, I’d ask him to re-read it when he turned twenty. And again, when he turned twenty five. Then, I’d hope that he’d remember Froi of the Exiles as much as I ever will.

Some people don’t like the books for their young to have violence in them, and I understand and respect that. But the lessons to be learned behind the compelling story, the breathtaking adventures and the musical prose are to be learned from one’s youth:

In this second instalment, Lumatere has been united for three years and it still isn’t whole. We peek at their issues from time to time, not less important for their brevity, and the mistrust is a direct consequence of the fear we read about in Finnikin. The bulk of the action, though, takes place in the Charynite border and the Charynite kingdom: it involves a people hated by Lumatere, despised because of what they did to them during the curse of their kingdom, considered nothing but assassins and brutal beasts.

And through the whole novel, Melina Marchetta will show us that the bestiality is there, along the kindness and the passion and the love of learning and all the good things in men. That’s what I would want my kid to get out of the book, and that’s why I think they’d need to read Froi sooner rather than later.

There’s more, of course. There’s so much more. There’s love, torturous and confusing but just so right. There’s treason. There’s courage. There’s hope, there’s pain.

When I finished Froi of the Exiles, I had to put it down and take a deep breath, and let it sink in. I had to give myself a moment to absorb everything that had happened, to contemplate what would happen.

It was raw, touching, moving. Both painful and awe-inspiring. And so very, very beautiful. Without a doubt, one of the best books I’ve ever read, and a story that will be part of me from now on.


  1. Wonderful review, Ron. I have to review this soon, too. I'm still shaking every time I think about that scene with the knife in the cave. It was one of the most powerful things I've ever read.

    I love it when you write emotional reviews!

    1. I think that word completely describes the whole book: powerful. The scene with the knife is breathtaking, but I think my personal favorite is the one with the ruby ring bargain.

      Also, I'm so glad you liked the review! Sometimes, when I get this emotional about books, I feel almost shy - as if I'm sharing more than if I were just raving or giving insight. But Froi? I couldn't do any less for him.

      Have you seen the cover for the next book? It's Quintana of Charyn, and it should be out late summer/early fall, I think!

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Yes, I saw the Aussie cover, but I'll end up buying the Candlewick one to match with the others. All my books have to match, I'm very OC about that. :D

    It seems that we get moved by similar things. I love that. :)

    Oh, and I'm always shy about my emotional reviews too! I think my two most painful ones were Feed by Mira Grant and The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell.

    1. I do recall a certain series I stopped buying because they changed the format and desing in the fifth book... (children of the earth? however was that one called in English?)

      Must check out your review for Reapers... I hadn't heard of it, but the title sounds very enticing. And plus, as you said, we seem to get moved by similar things so... I need to read your review of that one!

  3. Awesome review Ron, this book touched deeply so many of us. Now we only have to sit and wait for Quintana to be released.
    PS: I'll be waiting to see what you think of Grave Mercy, by the way!
    Lisa O. @ The Nocturnal Library

    1. Thanks, Lisa! Yes, this is without a doubt one of the best books ever... I just hope that the waiting is not too long!

  4. I have got to read this series. This sounds amazing I know I have read your review for the first in the series.
    Wonderful review Ron!

    1. It's not your average writing style - much more musical and beautiful, without sacrificing plot! But, definitely, one of the best books I've ever read. I'd tell you to go ahead and order them as soon as possible!