“Froi of the Exiles” by Melina Marchetta
Publication date: March 13, 2012, Candlewick Press
I was hesitant to read “Finnkin of the Rock,” but once I started it, I couldn’t put my computer, iPhone, iPad, Kindle down until I was done. And then I promptly re-read it all over again. So when Alex let me know via Twitter that “Froi” was available on NetGalley, I immediately asked for access. I’m so, so glad I have amazing Twitter pals who will nudge me in the right direction when it comes to books. And I will state now that whether or not you like the fantasy genre, you MUST READ “Finnikin” and “Froi.” Just ask Tee at YA Crush. She knows what I’m saying.
I’m blessed to have an amazing day job, so I was able to review “Froi of the Exiles” for Common Sense Media. I gave it five stars. Needless to say, I’m a huge Melina Marchetta fan. She’s an expert at creating rich worlds where everyone is beautifully flawed. Her characters are never of the clear “white hat”/”black hat” variety, and her Lumatere Chronicles are, like her contemporary novels before it, full of the kinds of people you come to desperately love and respect — even when they’re making choices that make you want to scream. Here is my CSM review (keep in mind that reviews there are always short and to the point):
Melina Marchetta is an exceptional writer, but it has still been surprising to see a specialist of contemporary teen fiction transition so seamlessly to the fantasy genre. Despite their medieval setting, the Lumatere Chronicles explore the same themes that Marchetta so beautifull conveys in books like Jellicoe Road and Saving Francesca. As the author herself has acknowledged, Froi and Quintana have the same trajectory as Jonah and Taylor in Jellicoe Road — they’re emotionally broken and in need of the other to help heal.
Like Finnikin and Isaboe, Froi and Quintana feel an almost otherworldly pull to be with each other, but their story is even sadder — and more frought with obstacles, if that’s possible — than the queen and her king’s. Once again, the book follows several points of view, and some of the secondary characters are just as compelling as Froi, especially Phaedra, the estranged Charynite wife of Lucian of the Monts; and Lady Beatriss, who finally realizes that she wants Captain Trevanion to know what really happened to her during the decade they spent apart. Gorgeously written and thoroughly detailed, this is one of the best fantasy epics in all of young-adult literature. Even those who eschew the genre should give it a try.
“In a kinder world,” he whispered, “one I promise you I’ve seen, men and women flirt and dance and love with only the fear of what it would mean without the other in their lives.” — Froi
“‘No stories or explanations,’ Finnikin had once told him. ‘When it comes to women, straight into an apology and you will find the rest of your life bearable.'” — Froi
“Don’t ever ask me again if I hate living anywhere with you and Jasmina. This Rock reminds me of the boy I was and being with you in the palace reminds me of the man I want to be.” –Finnikin “Not just any man,” she whispered. “A King. Mine.” — Isaboe
“If Froi understood anything, it was that in this world one’s worth came from others. He had no worth until he crossed the path of the novice Evanjalin and Finnikin” — Froi
Many thanks to Candlewick Press for providing a review copy of the novel