May 16, 2013

Remember the Past

Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

Release Date: October 2011
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: 593 pages
Series: The Lumatere Chronicles #2
Source & Format: Bought; Paperback
Amazon Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
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.

Thoughts on Froi of the Exiles
With Finnikin of the Rock, the prologue really set the tone for the rest of the book. In the same way, the prologue for Froi of the Exiles sets up the conflict and revelations that are to come. Despite being only half a page, I found it so interesting just how much Marchetta packed into those few paragraphs.

Lumatere's curse kept the people trapped inside the city's walls, but the Charynite curse keeps its people from reproducing. While Lumatere had hope that one day their people would be reunited and their kingdom restored, Charyn will cease to exist if they cannot have children.

One of my favorite things about Froi of the Exiles is the way Marchetta takes an extremely flawed and dishonorable character and really transforms him. You could see the seeds of Froi's growth as Finnikin of the Rock went along, but this is the book where you finally get to see him blossom. He has been educated, and he feels true remorse for the mistakes of his past.

When Froi is sent to Charyn to meet the Princess Quintana, he sets himself apart from everyone else just through his interactions with her. He wants to do what's right and to please the people who saw him at his worst and believed in his future. I just loved seeing this new side of him! He stole my heart in a way Finnikin never could - just seeing all the tension warring inside him.

There is such a shift in his attitude. Whereas before he cared only for himself and his own survival, he has now learned to care for others. He legitimately cares for the people who need his protection, for those who have been used and abused. It's interesting to see Marchetta really excel with his characterization and to see the way she redeems him from his past.

We also meet two characters, Lucian and Phaedra, who absolutely became my favorite characters of the entire series. While most of that happened in the last book, I love how Marchetta sets up their relationship and its problems in Froi of the Exiles. It was also nice to see a woman character that was admirable. While Evanjalin and Quintana have positive qualities, there are prickly woman. They lie and manipulate to suit their needs and agendas. So it can sometimes be hard to love them - because everything they do kind of pushes you away (as a reader). With quiet and unassuming Phaedra, you get to see a character come into her own. You see her discover her own strength and courage in a way that made me want to give her standing ovation.

As with Finnikin of the Rock, I felt that the love story in this book was its weakest element. There is just SO MUCH going on that the development of the relationship between Froi and Quinanta was lacking. However, I still enjoyed this book more than Finnikin of the Rock. Despite being longer, I thought it moved quicker and was a more gripping read. I had a hard time actually stopping each week for the read-along - I just wanted to keep going.

If you read Finnikin and loved it, you'll obviously want to come back for more. If you read Finnikin and felt a little blah on continuing this series, I'd absolutely recommend picking up this book and sticking with this series. You can truly begin to see Marchetta hitting her fantasy stride in this book. Even better? Just wait for my thoughts on the conclusion to this series!

So Quotable
"'If we forget who we lost,' Lady Abrian would tell Froi and her children, 'then we forget who we once were, and if we forget who we once where, we lost sight of who we are now.'"

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