TITLE: Froi of the Exiles (Lumatere Chronicles, #2)
AUTHOR: Melina Marchetta
FORMAT: eBook, 400 pages
PRECEDED BY: Finnikin of the Rock
The throne of Lumatere has been restored, the dark curse lifted at long last. Three years after liberating their kingdom, the people of Lumatere are still in the process of healing. Froi, once a slave and now one of the King and Queen’s most beloved friends, has come to see this land as home. But blood sings to blood, as he discovers when he is sent into Charyn on a mission that will endanger his life and make him question where ‘home’ truly lies…
So since I’ve become semi-famous in our little corner of the book blogging universe as the official Finnikin Ambassador, you should not be surprised by my enthusiasm for the second book in the series. GUYS. So much love for this world and the people in it. I can’t even articulate it properly. Every time anything related to the Lumatere Chronicles is mentioned I seriously just fall apart into a mess of lovestruck babbling. (Also, every time I see someone I know adding these books to their TBR pile it makes me feel all kittens-and-rainbows for at least the next 24 hours.) Anyway, I must warn you that it was really pretty impossible to write this review without including massive spoilers for Book I, so please run away NOW if you haven’t read Finnikin of the Rock yet!!!
Getting this out of the way now: the reason why I took off half a star was because this book kind of dragged for me in places. I think the first had better pacing. There were moments that did feel rather repetitive and drawn out. But I can’t really complain, because there is still so much power and emotion that it tides you over throughout. It never felt like an in-between book, although I am definitely terrified to start Book III now because I DON’T THINK I CAN SURVIVE IT. And I don’t think I can say goodbye!!!!
This second book has a slightly different feel to it than the first. It isn’t a negative change at all, just a very palpable difference between the two installments. As you might have surmised from the title, Book II shifts its focus to Froi and his journey beyond the borders of Lumatere into the neighboring kingdom of Charyn — the land responsible for the terrible crimes committed against Lumatere in the first book. Now, Froi is not Finnikin. He’s an entirely different creature, as fierce in his hatreds as he is in his loyalties, and there is a savagery in him that Finnikin doesn’t have. I honestly was so engrossed in Finnikin and Evanjalin during the first book that I hardly considered Froi, although I did get the sense that he would play a much larger role in the future. I’m glad I was given this chance to get to know his character better, because I ended up loving him as much as I love Finn. (But not as much as I love Isaboe. Because Isaboe is my spirit animal.)
Froi carries the story effortlessly. I loved his ferocity. I loved his unexpected patience and deep-seated affection for Quintana, in all her many moods and eccentricities, and despite the fact that she isn’t the easiest person to care for. I loved that the things Froi loved most in Quintana were a wild heart and unpredictable mind. But most of all, I was rendered a complete mess by the intensity with which Froi believed in Quintana — in all the things she could be, rather than what she might never be. “Imagine who she would be if we unleashed her onto the world. I think she would rip the breath from all of us.” Okay, try to sit there with a straight face and tell me you wouldn’t fall helplessly in love with someone who held so much hopeÂ and unwavering belief in his heart for you. Froi never focused on Quintana’s fragility, but on her strengths. He doesn’t try to change her, loving her instead for the person she is. Their relationship involves complications that aren’t present in the dynamic between Finn and Isaboe, but I came to love this pair so much more than I initially thought I would.
Speaking of Finn and Isaboe, can I just mention how much I appreciated being able to see them again?? So often in a series we spend the entire time waiting with bated breath for the happy ending, not reaching it until the last book. In this case, we’re able to see what happens after the happy ending, the joys as well as the sorrows. I loved that Marchetta didn’t skirt around the issues between Finn and Isaboe, issues that weren’t just magically laid to rest when the first book ended. I loved that Isaboe, a character I love with an intensity you can’t even imagine, was portrayed in all her greatness but also in her weakness. I think we didn’t see enough of this side to her in the first book and it really rounded out her character for me, making her more believable. As well, we’re able to see these two continually working on maintaining a balance between Isaboe’s position of power and Finnikin’s underlying insecurities because of that.
And I knew this book was going to facepunch me with the feels, but the thing is that I never expected it to come from Lucian’s corner. Just… wow. I really liked him in the first book and was so excited to see him take a larger role in this one, but I had NO IDEA he and Phaedra would leave me squeaking incoherently and flailing around like a moron. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO HANDLE THIS?? I barely made it through Finn and Evanjalin and all THEIR feels, which btw are still on-going. Now I’ve also got Froi and Quintana PLUS Lucian and Phaedra and I JUST. I CAN’T. How is it possible to love fictional people this much???
It’s hard to believe Melina Marchetta’s earlier novels are all contemporary. I would never have guessed this based on how masterfully she writes fantasy — from the depth and scope of her world to the relationships between her characters and the raw emotion she can invoke through them. I am so invested in this series at this point that I have no idea what I’ll do when I finally bring myself to read the last book. How will I move on?? It’s so rare for a series to move me as deeply as this one has so far. As the official Finnikin Ambassador, I hope you’ll consider reading the books.
… And by that I mean I hope you go get them RIGHT NOW.