Review: Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

Publication Date: October 3rd, 2011
Viking Australia
Format: Paperback, 608 pages

Goodreads Summary

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.

_______________________________________
MY TAKE: 5/5 STARS (I wish I could give it more!)
I have the most profound love for Melina Marchetta and her books. Anyone who follows me on Twitter and who reads my blog knows this. I love her work so much that I spent close to $70 on this book alone. International shipping and custom dues are very expensive. I am not ashamed to admit that I blew my book budget for the month (?). Considering this is not out yet in North America, it was well worth it and then some.

I cannot even begin to summarize what Froi of the Exiles is all about. The story line focuses on Froi’s assignment as the assassin sent into Charyn to kill its King. If you’ve read Finnikin of the Rock, you would know that Charyn was the primo enemy of Lumatere. Because of that, I was infinitely set on hating this kingdom and its people. But as the story progressed, and in true Marchetta brilliance, everything was not as they seem in Charyn. Some were as oppressed as the Lumatere exiles in Finnikin of the Rock, and some were as resigned as the Lumaterians who were cursed, trapped inside unless the curse was broken. Charynites, however, were blighted with a different curse: the inability of anyone of age to reproduce. I’m going to stop with my interpretation of the Froi’s blurb right here, because honestly, I don’t want this review to be a drawn-out synopsis of the book. Besides, there were a million things going on in the book that I just can’t give it a justified summarization.

So here’s what I thought:

Was I surprised that this book turned out to be ho-hum, brilliant? Uhm, NO.

Was I surprised that this book was considerably much more complicated than its antecedent, Finnikin of the Rock? NO.

Was I surprised by the intricate way with which Marchetta revealed certain plots and sub-plots painstakingly as if she were peeling layers upon layers of delicate phyllo dough? No. In fact, I’ve come to expect it. Often times, I fought with myself; wavering to skip pages but couldn’t bring myself to do so. It’s a dishonor to the book and to Ms. Marchetta herself. And in any case, she made it so that every word, every sentence, every punctuation of this book was significant to the great cohesive magnificence of the entire novel.

I find myself unable to find the right superlative for Froi. It seemed underwhelming to simply say it was brilliant – an understatement of epic proportions.

The characters that were introduced gave this book a whole different dimension of literary genius. Quintana, for one, is a fascinating character. She’s not what you would call a beauty in a seemingly mass-produced heroine assembly line. She was strong and at the same time acquiescent to the role she must play in her kingdom as the King’s daughter. I can’t tell you what she had to do but her situation was extraordinarily sad and the exact opposite of venerable. This is also another reason why Froi left me in a haze of wonder. There were topics that were, let’s just say, of mature audience variety; raping, whoring, violence, sex, with a hint of incest. And although we’ve had a taste of most of the above in Finnikin, it was still a shock to me. But let me be clear, Marchetta does not write anything for shock value. In the end, a book, much like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. You can take it like it is and give it your own interpretation. I myself could say that everything in this book was tasteful and genuine to the story line.

Shall I talk about Froi? Well, in Finnikin, Froi was an undesirable character up to the latter part of the book – in the end, I eventually took a shining to him. I am not going to say that I’ve fallen in love with him here, but let me say that uncovering who he truly was overwhelmed me – completely. He was a multitude of characters and traits – snippets inherited from all the kingdoms where he once roamed and lived. But the best part of knowing the real Froi, was finding out who his parents were and how deeply connected he was to Lumatere’s enemy.

For me, Finnikin and Isaboe will always be the royalty of literary characters ever penned. I loved reading about them as young rulers of Lumatere and as parents. As a husband and wife, I found it funny that that Isaboe had to plan a tryst in a closet for a moment with her husband.

Sigh.

And finally, finally, Lady Beatriss and Trevanion. Wow. I have a brand new appreciation for the word, CLOSURE. That’s all I’m going to say about them. I wish there was a separate book about these two: how their love story started and what they had to endure during their ten years of separation.

I wish I can say that this book ended how Finnikin did – with resolution and satiated feeling that everyone got their happily ever after. Unfortunately, that is not the case at all. One thing I can say for sure is that the third book will have to be epically exceptional to top this one.

Geebus. I have to wait another year for the third book. Gah!


  • I read Saving Francesca first then The Piper's Son. After that, Jellicoe Road. Oh boy. If i thought Saving and Piper's were amazing, Jellicoe Road just blew all of my preconceived notions about MM right there and then. Jellicoe Road is one of those books that I always go back to when I'm on a reading slump. It just makes me fall in love with books all over again. After that, I just had to read Finnikin. Best fantasy/historical I've ever read. EVER!

    Thanks for visiting my blog! I'm always happy to find a fellow Melina Marchetta admirer!

  • I've been curious about what your review for this book would be like. Being a Marchetta fan myself after only reading Looking for Alibrandi, I've been eager to read the rest of her books. I've heard The Piper's Son and Saving Francesca are quite good as well. What's your favourite of Marchetta's books and what's the first book of hers you've read?

    After all your excitement (and spending a whopping $70!!!) for this book, I'm glad it was entirely worth it for you. I'm sorry you have to wait so long for the next one. I hope time flies for your sake:)

    Happy Reading!