Thursday, April 12, 2012
Review: Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta
Tags: YA, fantasy
For the past three years, Froi of Nowhere has devoted himself to serving his queen, Isaboe of Lumatere. An unexpected royal assassin’s mission into the heart of neighboring Charyn, however, uproot his life once more. For Charyn has been in the throes of a long curse as well, and at its center seems to be Quintana, the mad princess who declares herself to be essential to the curse-breaking prophecy. As, reluctantly, Froi begins to care about the people he meets in Charyn, he discovers just how deeply he is entangled in the affairs of Charyn…
Once in a blue moon I find that I would rather not write a review for a book, because there is just no chance I will be able to find the right words to express just how magnificent I think the book is. Unsurprisingly, as with nearly all of her books, Melina Marchetta’s latest, FROI OF THE EXILES, is one of these times. It just doesn’t seem possible that FROI is “just a book,” or “just a story.” FROI is an experience. It’s an event. It’s altogether unforgettable.
As always, Marchetta pulls off the miraculous feat of having characters that initially seem unlikable but then grow so much on you you find you kind of, sort of, maybe want to date them. If you remember Froi from Finnikin of the Rock, you’ll probably remember him as an angry and petulant adolescent with a hard childhood. Froi starts out much the same way in this book, but he grows until we see how truly noble, how fiercely loyal, he can be when his heart runs away from him.
Other characters, both old and new ones, get plenty of page time in FROI OF THE EXILES. We get heart-wrenching pictures of the rebuilding of Lumatere, the hurts that remain from the time of the curse, the difficulties of keeping happiness and hope alive in a crowd of hopelessness, resentment, and suspicion. We also get new problems in the Charynites and their curse, revelations about Froi’s past, and tensions between old characters we feel protective of and new characters that we perhaps love even more. Marchetta weaves brilliant tapestries of plot and conflict together, surprising and astounding us with their complexity.
Characters, setting, plot…I may have to go ahead and call FROI OF THE EXILES flawless. Not that I’m surprised. FROI simply reiterates the fact that Melina Marchetta can do anything when it comes to writing. It was a wonderful reading experience and I look forward to finding out more about Froi, Quintana, and the others, in the next book, Quintana of Charyn.
Cover discussion: Umm... is that supposed to be Froi? I don't know how I feel about that...
Candlewick / March 13, 2012 / Hardcover / 598pp. / $18.99
e-galley received from publisher and NetGalley. Thank you!