SPOILER WARNING: The synopsis and review will contain spoilers for the first book in The Lumatere Chronicles, Finnkin of the Rock. My review for the first book can be found here, but my review will not contain spoilers for Froi of the Exiles.
Title: Froi of the Exiles
Series: The Lumatere Chronicles #2
Author: Melina Marchetta
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Synopsis: 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)
Let me say this up-front to get it out of the way: Froi is one of my favourite characters in this series, and I have a serious love-hate relationship with him. Hate mainly because he does seriously horrible things in the first book. I don’t think it’s right to declare him a perfect innocent baby because he’s not. Normally I would shun characters like this right off the bat. Why is he my favourite? Because of how he progresses through the series, especially through this book. For me, he’s so different from the Froi I met in the first book, showing how fiercely he cares for the people he loves, and I appreciate the development.
However, I did have issues with this book. As I said in my Goodreads minireview of this:
Reading this was like going to a reunion of old friends, and realising that they talk way too much. You enjoy their company, find their stories interesting, but you find yourself wishing that the night would end soon because it is just dragging on and on. Oh, and they keep switching from story to story, and there’s a lot of stuff that they don’t say because they’re rather just leave it implied rather than outright stated. Sometimes kinda vague.
This book felt much longer than the first, and I felt it tended to drag at certain points. Maybe it’s because there was this whole new fascinating world of Charyn and new characters like Quintana, but the story kept bouncing back to the people in Lumatere. I guess I just really wanted this book to explore new relationships, with more focus on Froi as a main this time. That being said, I was fascinated by Charyn and the varying people living in it. They’re all so different in their ways, and the cultures feel so vibrant and fleshed out.
What I liked reading about is showing how prejudices and beliefs can dehumanise entire kingdoms or groups of people to each other, because the same events may be completely different in another country’s history. Savage barbarians may have been boys that were forced into their orders, groups of people who were looked down on as exiles or seen as animals rather than people may be the most community-oriented and helpful groups. I found my heart aching for the people of Charyn who were innocent, but caught up in the mad wars and battles, something they couldn’t control.
The plot is… Well, I didn’t think it was simple, I’ll give it that. There’s a lot of things that happened, some twists I didn’t see coming and some that I did. I think there’s a lot more blood in this book, a lot more political power struggling going on, and the issue of morality (doing what must be done, doing what you think is best, etc). It took me a while to finish this book because of the pacing. Like I said, it tended to drag at certain points but would suddenly pick up again.
Overall: While I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first book, I still give this book four out of five stars. I did like seeing the new kingdom of Charyn, the new characters that were introduced, and Froi’s character development over the course of the book. But I felt that the book tended to drag at certain bits, and I’m not sure if I was a huge fan of the story view switching over to the people back in Lumatere. Yes, I know that Isaboe and Finnikin are great and have good banter. Yes, I know that Beatriss is noble and smart. Yes, we covered all this in the last book, thank you.
Will I continue the series? Of course! I need to go borrow Quintana of Charyn!