If you have noticed my inactivity for the last few days then there’s just one reason for that: I was busy reading the Lumatere Chronicles and I refused to be bothered by e-mails and comments. I still love you, guys but the pull of Marchetta was too strong that the only right thing to do was to keep reading until my body surrenders. So I will start this review with a warning. Beware of Marchetta. She will ensnare you with her spell.
In Froi of the Exiles, our young Sarnak Thief, Froi has grown up into a fine young man. Trained by Captain Trevanion and his guard, Froi became a lethal Lumateran assassin. And just when he thought that everything has already fell down into their right places, Froi was assigned a mission: Assassinate the Charynite King, the one responsible for the misery of the Lumaterans. As Froi devised strategies to kill the King, he was caught in a tangle of mysteries, endless sufferings and deadly revelations not only about Charyn but of his true identity as well.
Being the second book of the Lumatere Chronicles, one shouldn’t fear reading Froi of the Exiles. It certainly didn’t suffer the second book syndrome. In fact, it was as explosive as the first. The beginning chapters subtly elaborated the events that transpired with the lives of the Lumaterans after they succeeded regaining their Kingdom. Though the traces of misery are still evident, the Lumaterans were progressing well with the leadership of King Finnikin (No, I wouldn’t call him the Queen’s Consort) and Queen Isaboe. Seeing these two happily married made me a delighted camper. At least, afterall the pains that they went through, they deserve something wonderful. That doesn’t mean though that I had stopped grieving for young Isaboe/Evanjelin. Her plight to get back her kingdom would always be etched in my mind. This brings me to…
Just like the first book, Froi of the Exiles main story revolves around another Princess fighting—although not to regain her lost Kingdom—to bring peace and to keep her kingdom from falling apart by ridding it of a horrible curse. It is a story sprinkled with endless suffering, breathtaking revelations, deceptions, betrayals, to-die-for sacrifices, vileness of human nature, goddess worship, messy relationships and courage that would put anyone to shame. A lot of things were happening in this book that it was impossible for me to get bored. The plot was fabricated so thickly that unpredictability was surely achieved.
And the romance, guys…the romance. Similar to the first book (Finnikin of the Rock), it was in the right amount and never overshadowed the whole story yet, it didn’t fail to take my breath away. The romance between Froi and Quintana is achingly wonderful. I couldn’t believe that such romance could exist between two broken people.
What made me invested in this book so much is the ensemble of very strong characters that will not hesitate to tear you apart. After finishing book 2, I am now convinced that Melina can be considered the Creator in the world of books. In Finnikin of the Rock, every fiber of my being loathed Froi because he is such a spawn of the devil. I slowly warmed up to him after he pledged his life to Isaboe. But in this book, Froi’s past is already non-existent to me. I love him as much as I love Finnikin. When Quintana offered herself to him and he refused with vehemence, I was like…
Oh, Froi, if only men in this world are like you, I would welcome marriage and children like they are my lifeline. You, Froi, you… And this quote almost reduced me to stand on my knees…
“I don’t come to you pure,” she said.
“Not interested in purity. Only willingness.”
And just when I thought that no one could rival Isaboe’s/Evanjelin’s bravery, I’ve met Quintana, the mad Princess of Charyn. Know what, guys? The female leads of the Lumatere chronicles were somewhat moulded from the greatest female rulers of history. Quintana is mad (in a positive way), cunning, unpredictable, compassionate and most of all, selfless. What she did to save the girls from experiencing a traumatizing fate was mind blowing. Have you read the Vampire Academy series? If so, do you remember the last test Vasilisa Dragomir has to take?
“What must a queen possess in order to truly rule her people?”
“Nothing,” Lissa said softly. “A queen must possess nothing to rule because she has to give everything she has to her people. Even her life.”
And Lissa couldn’t be more right. If we base being queen according to the quote above, then Quintana is a Queen through and through. What she sacrificed is more than her life. There’s a raging battle inside my heart. For years, I’ve carried Katniss’ torch and after reading Finnikin of the Rock, I am sad and happy to report that Evanjelin/Isaboe and Quintana have ousted Katniss’ position. If I must say, Lumatere Chronicles have the strongest female leads I’ve met in my whole life. And sue me for saying this: Hermione, Katniss, Rose Hathaway, Katsa would pale in comparison. Don’t worry, girls, you’re still on my list of “Females that would likely change the world for the better.”
The world Melina has painted is so realistic to the point that I do not want to live in it. Although Lumatere is slowly being restored to its original grandeur, I would still decline an invitation to visit. What if I will be haunted by the horrible memories of the unspeakable? And Charyn is certainly not a place where I want to raise a family. There’s just so much pain there I’m afraid it will break me.
The prose of Froi of the Exiles is simply marvellous and moving. There’s no info dump and every scrap of vital information was introduced smoothly. Melina, you’re one of those few people whose words are far more powerful than a sword.
Before I wrap this review, I must warn you that there’s sex between two YA characters in this book. Sex in YA books is hard to pull off. But in Froi of the Exiles, it was beautifully constructed and certainly important to the whole plot. And I could go on and go on about it but I bet, you didn’t read this review just to read an in depth analysis of sex.
Froi of the Exiles is definitely one of those few books that drowned me in a whirlpool of emotions. Good ol’ LOTR could not even compete… this is High Fantasy at its best.