by Melina Marchetta
Plot Summary:There's a babe in my belly that whispers the valley, Froi. I follow the whispers and come to the road . . .
Separated from the girl he loves and has sworn to protect, Froi must travel through Charyn to search for Quintana, the mother of Charyn's unborn king, and protect her against those who will do anything to gain power. But what happens when loyalty to family and country conflict? When the forces marshalled in Charyn's war gather and threaten to involve the whole of the land, including Lumatere, only Froi can set things right, with the help of those he loves.
Review:The is the third and final book in the Lumatere Chronicles, and what an amazing ride this series has been. From a first book that is full of beautiful moments with characters we are just getting to know and understand to this final installment where the full realization of who these varied and complex people truly are; I was completely blown away by the awesome scope of this trilogy. With the first book centering on the tragedy of Lumatere at the hands of Charyn, and the second book examining the circumstances that led to the corrupt government of Charyn, the third book tells the story of how these two lands can start to heal. There are so many plot threads from the beginning of this series that find a different meaning in the third book as the reader starts to see the complete picture. It's perfect interweaving of plot threads and characters by an author who I'm fast believing has a completely unearthly writing ability.
This series is high fantasy, but often gets put into YA as a category and I think that fits because as so many people point out, YA has stories where characters feel very strongly and dramatically over every little thing, but with this series those emotional moments are rightfully dramatic and feel life and death. Whether it's filial or romantic love, love for your land or your child, the stakes are so high in this story that its hard not to feel just as invested in every love story and every heartbreaking plot twist as these characters who must fight for justice and healing. It's again incredible how Melina Marchetta writes such realistic characters with believable emotional development who are not always likable, but real and relatable.
Quintana as the title character of the book, doesn't have much more scenes than the other characters in this book in my opinion, but she does change the most throughout the story - especially in the final chapters - where you see how much she has learned from the people who took care of her during her pregnancy. It was so touching to read how this group of women who almost hated each other for most of their forced time together, became so close at the end of it and Quintana was able to grow so much because of that. It's also interesting to see the parallels in the fierceness of the two Queens in the story - Quintana and Isaboe and their interactions was a joy to read.
There's something that Melina does in this book that I like to think of as deferred pain - because there are so many moments that as a reader I was eagerly awaiting because I knew it would pack an emotional punch, but when it finally happens there is something else very important that needs to play out before that emotional punch can land, so that the emotional set-up of the moment is brought to fruition some pages later resulting in immediate tearfulness for me. No set-up needed. It was kinda fun actually being put through the emotional wringer with this book!
I can't recommend this series enough - the story never let me down, it's a moving and engaging portrait of strong, wonderful characters against a backdrop of broken lives, patriotic love, hope and friendship.