Sunday, July 28, 2013

Froi of the Exiles

Froi of the Exiles
By: Melina Marchetta
Froi of the Exiles (Lumatere Chronicles, #2)
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.

Okay, so WOW! I just finished this book and I seriously have no words to explain...or articulate...or speak about...or think about the complete and total brilliance of this book and this series. The connections you make with all the characters and that they make with each other are just beautiful. Even (or maybe I should say especially) the characters who, by all accounts, should be considered unlikeable. The complexity level just skyrockets in this book. It's not just Lumatere that you care about or know about anymore. Nearly right away in this book the reader is plunged into the even more complex political situation in Charyn. At least the Lumaterans were mostly united through their curse. The Charynites are falling apart at the seams and have been for eighteen years. That's why this story was darker, grittier, and more complicated.

Instead of just throwing rambly and gushing words at you (as I am in danger of doing), I'm going to list all the things this book did right (namely, everything):

You want to know what blew my freaking mind about this book? That a cast of characters who are almost all unlikeable were able to make you care about them so deeply. You hurt when they hurt, even when you were in the middle of hating them. You don't love them because they did the right things, you loved them because they made the wrong choices and a lot of times that's easier for us to relate to. We aspire to be the brave characters, but we are the characters who screw up when it matters most.

Characters in Charyn:
Froi: Let's just talk about my baby for a second. Basically, he's such a great character. You caught a hint of it in the first book, but his underlying complexities really shone in this book. His relationships with Gargarin, Arjuro, Lirah, and Quintana were enough to shatter your heart and mend it all at the same time. I loved that his feelings (and the feelings of all of the characters) were never clear cut. Yes, Froi loved them all, but sometimes he hated them despite his love for them and sometimes he was hurt by them and sometimes he hurt them. We don't always do right by those we love most and sometimes we say things we wish we could take back. But their little family protected each other even when they didn't necessarily want to.
and Froi has the habit of befriending the most important people (both in Lumatere and in Charyn).
Also, he delivered some of the most heart-breaking lines in the whole book,

"Oh, you fool, Froi. You've always wanted to be someone's son."

"Weak boy. Stupid, useless boy. Froi wanted to kill that boy he had been."

I loved Froi's dynamic with Trevanion and Perri toward the beginning of the book. They got REALLY frustrated at each other, but only because they loved each other fiercely.
Quintana: A wonderful addition to the series. She's every bit as strong as Isaboe and Beatriss, she just doesn't have the luxury of being as stable. She's been treated like crap since the beginning of her life and the beginning of the curse. She was feared and tossed around like she was mad. And against all odds, she survived. Her connection with Froi had the reader confused and entranced and hopeful from the very beginning. Everything that has been brought out in Froi in the three years since meeting Isaboe and Finnikin has made him the kind of man who can support and care for Quintana.  I both loved and hated their dynamic. By that mean, it was brilliantly written and perfectly executed, it just hurt my heart a lot of the time.
Arjuro:  He definitely wasn't a light character or anything, but he did add some relief into tougher situations with his sarcasm (particularly when he and Froi went back and forth with retorts).

"When you're both finished trying to frighten each other away with the sordidness of your pasts, can you help me, please?"

"Arjuro shrugged. "There's nothing like a bit of patricide and regicide to convince me of someone's worth."

Gargarin: He was so smart and clever, but he was also coward. I know that we see a fair amount of him in Froi of the Exiles, but I am still not sure I've completely figured him out. He's a good guy (or at least, tries his best to be), but I just simply don't understand his relationship with Froi. But I do know that Isaboe's declaration at the end of the book was enough to scare me. I guess he's the kind of character that sneaks up on you, and before you know it you're invested in that. You want that character to survive.
Lirah: Another sneaky one. You don't see her softer side until a good half-way through the book. That's not to say she wasn't a fantastic character before that, because she definitely was. Her relationship with Froi hurt me, too. Because they both just weren't saying the right words to each other and so they kept missing their chances to relate to each other. Until the scene where they rode horses together, which was brilliant and it made my heart smile despite the horridness of what was going on.
Lirah and Gargarin was also an interesting dynamic. They were good for each other and they weren't. It was confusing and weird and occasionally sweet.
Grijio, Olivier and the firstborns: I loved Grijio's bromance with Froi. Just heartwarming. goodness knows he could use a friend or two.. I also loved Tippideaux's relationship with Quintana. The De Lancey children were so funny and sweet to Froi and Quintana and I want to see more of them.
Now Olivier is a totally different matter. I just...I just don't want to talk about him. at all.
Hamlyn and Arna: Oh goodness. I think they had a total of about ten pages, but I want more of them. So much more. They had such hope and hurt and their back-story broke my heart.
Especially lines like this just solidified what the citizens of Charyn were going through,

"A horse handler with no horses and a midwife in a barren kingdom"

Characters in Lumatere or the Valley:
Finnikin and Isaboe: I absolutely loved seeing them again all married and cute and what-not. I still can't get over how lovely their relationship is. They respect each other, but that doesn't mean they can't disagree with each other or have fights. We're seeing that their happily ever after isn't perfect, but that it's perfect for them. They had problems to deal with, but they did it together.
Lucian and Phaedra: I felt for Lucian, I really did. He's had to deal with losing his father and taking over ruling the Mont people. He didn't handle any of it extremely well at first, but by the end of this book he'd gotten the hang of it (with a bit of help). I loved that Phaedra was the catalyst for him. That when he finally let her in and let himself care, he started learning how to lead.
and Phaedra. Add her to the list of brave and genuine women in this series. She has quickly become one of my favorite characters in these books. She proved herself to be wise and kind, but she had a tough side. She felt like an outsider, but she was brave and kind and wise anyway. There was a solid period of time when I was so terrified and sad for them both. I actually teared up for Phaedra (and I hardly ever cry in books).
Trevanion and Beatriss: finally. FINALLY. It took a lot of healing and helping to get here, but in the end they figured things out. I still love Beatriss so much. She is still so strong in everything. Even in her regressions she shows her strength in weakness.
Trevanion, Beatriss, and Vestie all together are just so cute I could die.

What I'm trying to say is that the thing making this book and this series great is the realistic relationships. Not everyone had the right words for the right time in their relationships. Sometimes the words came out too late or too awkwardly or in the wrong way. That was the horrible and wonderful part of this book. The relationships felt real.

The expansion of Skuldenore in this book was magnificent. The craziness happening in Charyn just served to complicate and deepen everything about this beautiful world. I can't wait to see where this series goes in the last book, but I don't want to leave Lumatere.
The emphasis on different languages and prejudices and suspicions across the different countries was really really REALLY well done.

Heart-Break: CHECK
I won't be able to adequately describe the amount of sentences in this book that tore my heart to shreds. So I am just going to list some for you.

"It would help if this kingdom didn't see us as a family of savages." There was silence after that. It was too strange a word for Gargarin to use. Family."

"When you laugh, you look like your boy, Lirah."

"They camped that night under a full moon and a sky crowded with stars that made Froi forget that there was an old man waiting to die and remember that there was a kingdom dying to live."

""These gifts are curses," Arjuro cried. "Curses."

"That his broken spirit and hers had created rather than destroyed something for the first time in their wretched lives."

"He wanted to say the words, "I would not have gone through with it." But he'd never know, and that was his punishment. That, and being in love with a girl whose spirit had been broken by men like Froi."

All of these quotes are just to say that the writing in this is wonderful. brilliant. fantastic. breath-taking. awe-inspiring. Melina Marchetta was born to write beautiful things.


"I can do this, he read in her eyes.
You can do anything, he was saying in return. But I wish you didn't have to."

"If we forget who we lost...then we forget who we once were, and if we forget who we once were, we lose sight of who we are now."

"How can you fight the world with a quiver in your voice..."

"Some of us weren't born for rewards, Froi. We were born for sacrifices."

"In a kinder world, one I promise you I've seen, men and women flirt and dance and love with only the fear of what it would mean to live without the other in their lives."

"It's the same with her. Imagine who she would be if we unleashed her onto the world. I think she would rip the breath from all of us."

"Because matters of the heart are not there to be understood, brave girl."

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