Title: Froi of the Exiles
Author: Melina Marchette
Series: The Lumatere Chronicles #2
Published: 2011 by Viking Australia, 593 pages
Reviewed by Holly
Well, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I have to say – I was not sure about reading this book, Amanda made me do it, and OMG she was right. AGain. And, I will try not to post any spoilers, BUT, this is the second book in the Lumatere Chronicles, the first being Finnikin of the Rock, so the synopsis of this one may ruin some of the magic of that book. Consider yourself warned – but I’ll save the synopsis for the end of this post, and first tell you exactly what was so amazing about it.
I dilly-dallyed on this book for two reasons:
- Amanda made me read Divergent, which I loved, and then that series devolved into a hot-mess which I hated. I loved Finnikin, which I read not realizing at first that it was part of a series. I did NOT want this world to turn into something completely silly too.
- The title character in this book is Froi, who was introduced to us in Finnikin. You guys, Froi is not a likeable guy. In fact, Froi does something really awful in Finnikin – as in, attempted sexual assault. Ugh. I really could not abide the thought of reading a book with that guy as the main character – I mean, was he supposed to be some kind of hero?
Fast forward to my finishing Froi – I sent Amanda a short text: “Froi. Done. Heart hurts.”
The fact that this book tugged at my heartstrings so much – for Froi, and the people he has come to love, and the people who have come to love him – is a testament to Melina Marchetta’s amazing writing. I am not even sure how to describe what she did – Froi’s actions in Finnkin were not swept under the rug, and they were not merely forgiven and forgotten. From his experiences, he grows and changes and becomes better, but it certainly doesn’t come across as an after-school-special type lesson of finding the silver lining in a terrible situation. Rape is a prevalent theme in this book, but it’s not rape as a plot device (I’m looking at you, George R.R. Martin).
In fact, even if you don’t pick up on the subtleties, Marchetta delivers her point with a heavy-hand:
Men don’t rape women because their women are ugly,” cousin Jostien said, but there was a protest at his words. “That’s what my fa said! He says that inside their hearts and spirits they are nothing but little men who need to feel powerful.
Froi is not let off easy for his transgressions, by those around him and by himself. Froi is afraid of the darkness within himself, and he actually reminds me at several points of Dexter – you know, America’s favorite serial killer. Dexter (I’ve only watched the show, not the read the books) goes on and on about his ‘dark passenger,’ and Froi carries a dark passenger of his own. Dexter lives by the code of Harry, and Froi lives by the bond he has sworn to his adoptive homeland and family. I have been siding with Dexter for seven seasons now (have not watched #8 yet!), and, at some point in this book, I began to side with Froi, and hope that he could find light amidst his darkness.
Go read Finnikin, and then read Froi! There’s a third too- Quintana of Charyn, and you better believe that one is near the top of my to-read pile.
“I fear that I will do something to bring harm to those I love,” Froi said. “So I will follow their rules to ensure that I won’t.”
“But what if you bring harm or fail to protect those you don’t know? Or don’t love? Will you care as much?”
“Then choose another bond. One written by yourself. Because it is what you do for strangers that counts in the end.”
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.