Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta (The Lumatere Chronicles #2)
When I saw the title of the second installment of The Lumatere Chronicles and quickly realized we would be spending most of our time with Froi rather than Finnikin, I was slightly disappointed. I loved Finnikin in the first book, and wanted more of his story. But how wrong I was.
While we still get some Finnikin, and Isaboe and Trevanion and all the others from the first installment, I found myself not missing them as much as I thought I would. By the end of Finnikin, Froi had already begun the transformation from mannerless thief to someone they could trust, and by the time Froi begins, he is well positioned in the kingdom of Lumatere and has grown tremendously. As part of the King’s Guard, he’s been trained in combat and stealth, but also in how to control his rage and respect others. As a farmer, he’s learned patience and a desire to earn his living and work with his hands.
Three years have passed since the events in Finnikin and the kingdom is slowly coming together once more. In neighboring Charyn, however, things have taken a turn for the worse. The fate of one kingdom affects the others, and there are a lot of side plots regarding both the growth of Isaboe and Finnikin as leaders and the people of Lumatere and how they’re coping. Not to mention the unease and tension caused by neighboring strifes.
Just as a curse had afflicted Lumatere in Finnikin, Froi features a curse on Charyn, one that has left the kingdom childless for 18 years, and Froi must slowly confront his own personal battle of doing what is right versus doing what he’s bound to do.
Marchetta has a way with characters, and Froi is no different. Quintana is legitimately crazy, the twins Gargarin and Arjuro are broken, mean-spirited, and brilliant, and Phaedra slowly captured my heart, along with the rest of Lumatere.
At almost 200 pages longer than Finnikin, Froi is a chunker of a book, and while most of the time I didn’t notice it, other times I had no idea where the story was going to go and was ready for it to pick up. Specifically the middle section, when there’s a lot of introducing of characters and answering of questions and not so much of a plot. Towards the end there’s quite a bit of wandering from province to province and a lot of angry teenage angst that I could’ve done without.
That being said, I love putting little pieces in the story together, and Marchetta does that so well. And the ending! It rips at me, it makes me desperate to pick up Quintana of Charyn even though I said I was going to take a break from the binge-reading of the series.
There’s a lot of mystery and hidden connections, and we get to explore the kingdom of Charyn and its inhabitants, and maybe find we don’t hate them as much as we did before.
There are multiple sides to all stories, you’re not quite sure who to believe or trust at times, and the cliffhanger at the ending is setting the finale up to question what is right and what is evil, and characters will need to make choices between blood, love, pride, duty, and honor.