by Melina Marchetta
Plot 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.
Review:So I reviewed Finnikin of the Rock awhile back and was blown away by the storytelling and the characters and the world the author created, and in Book Two, the awesomeness just continues! It's a book that has a darker tone than the first, probably inescapable due to the darker, volatile nature of Froi and the mad, complex little Queen Quintana. I was surprised (though I shouldn't have been) that this book is really very High Fantasy and gritty and realistic while keeping the close perspective angle common in Young Adult novels. And while it was a little slow to get into this book - it does take place three years after the first and establishes some of the changes made during that time - the story definitely picks up quickly and starts throwing a lot of characters and history at the reader. It was a little confusing at times, especially when it came to twins, but I think that was only because I was trying to read so fast, I couldn't wait to know what was happening next. There's so much that goes on this book - so many perspectives opened up and revelations made, that I am yet again amazed by how rich and involved this world is!
The characters are what really make this book work because they are so complex - with their flaws and more importantly with their secrets. I just loved how a new (sometimes devastating) reveal was made about a character's past just opened up so much understanding about their character and put to rest that little question in the back of my mind of why they are acting they way they are. The author just has such masterful control of who these characters are and what their role is in the story; it's beautiful to read it unfold. Froi in the beginning was a difficult to character to like, but he is one to admire, and the journey towards understanding him and finally liking him is labyrinthine, but so worth the investment. As is getting to know Quintana, but there is definitely more to explore for her character and I can't wait for that!
There are a lot of political machinations in this book that tear apart Charyn, and while I don't usually find that angle very interesting, the fact that it's rooted in the characters and their beliefs really help make the political angle relatable and intriguing. Charyn is almost nothing like what I expected from the first book, and it was great to find out the truth in this story. Again there are just so many revelations made that completely overturn expectations set when the series began. So by the time I got to the last few pages of the book I really did not know what to expect. I can't even believe some of the things that did happen! Consequently I need the third book in my hand NOW. Froi of the Exiles is an absolutely fantastic ride of a novel, with such a compelling narrative and ridiculously intricate characters. I haven't read the last book yet, and I'm not sure how I'll feel about it (I have to say I'm a little scared because there is so much at stake) but I am sure everyone should read this series!