First read and reviewed in March 2012. Re-read in February 2013.
Blood sings to blood, Froi . . .
Those born last will make the first . . .
For Charyn will be barren no more.
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 trained roughly and lovingly by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds. Here he encounters a damaged people who are not who they seem, and must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad Princess.
And in this barren and mysterious place, he will discover that there is a song sleeping in his blood, and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen.
Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta
Update 2013: I’m rounding up the rating after the reread.
What kind of ridiculous name is that? That’s what I thought when I first read Finnikin of the Rock and marvelled at the fact that he was going to be the main character of the second book. Then I read the ending of Finnikin and decided I didn’t care. I decidedly didn’t care. I wanted to read Melina Marchetta’s books and that was it.
I’m happy to say the gamble paid off. Froi of the Exiles not only deepens the world building (maybe not enough for the severest critics) and further explores other characters, it brings alive Lumatere’s greatest enemy: Charyn and its people.
Froi is sent on a mission for his Queen and country, but he ends up finding himself instead. The exile without a past finds out exactly what he’s lost. Through a journey that isn’t that dissimilar from the one Finnikin and Evanjalin took, Froi finds a home and a family if not, yet, a place where he belongs.
I have my doubts about the love of these two broken people are still developing, but I don’t doubt my love for the secondary characters. The brothers who share a face and their lost loves were who I really found myself invested in. Let’s just say that Arjuro needs his happy ending. It’s non-negotiable.
What was a throwaway remark in Finnikin was also further demonstrated in Froi. Bonding–what the people of Skuldenore call a marriage–is completely asexual. It’s part of why I love these books so, but it’s not the only reason.
For all the good there’s so much more wickedness. It’s like the ick factor of Finnikin and the turnside of the war is multiplied in Froi, but the story’s set up and the characters ground it and make it believable if not bearable. A word of warning, though. If you can’t forgive and look past what Froi did to Isaboe, you most likely won’t like what’s done to Quintana and others. Many, many others.
It isn’t a secret that this book ends with a cliffhanger. I knew it going in and it honestly didn’t bother me as much as it would others. What did annoy me, were the very last lines of the epilogue. I didn’t need that trick to be revealed. There’s very little mystery in these books and all that keeps me reading is the need to find out how it’ll happen. The what is easily guessed.
Marchetta’s magic is in the words, not in the misdirection and slow reveal of a mystery. What I’m trying to say is that I’ve read better storytellers, but I’ve read few authors whose writing speaks to me like hers does.
Oh, and the story behind the ridiculous name is explained as well. I could tell you, but I won’t. You’ll just have to read the book to find out.
I received an Advanced Readers Copy from the US publisher through NetGalley.