Review: Quintana of Charyn (Plus Book-Pushing!)

Title: Quintana of Charyn

Author: Melina Marchette

Series: The Lumatere Chronicles #3

Published 2012 by Viking Australia, 516 pages


Reviewed by Holly

I’ve reviewed the first two books in the Lumatere Chronicles here and here, and in both of those, I’ve tried not to give away too much of the story…which leaves me which little to say here besides this: for the love of all that is good in the world, read these books. (And keep reading for a chance to win the first one!)

The first book, Finnikin of the Rock, I liked a lot – and then Amanda told me that there were 2 more, and I was definitely leery of the trilogy (see: Divergent). But you guys, these just got better and better.

I read Quintana in between books of the Song of Fire and Ice series, and while there are definitely some genre-similarities between the two, there was a big difference for me as a reader. I keep reading the George R.R. Martin books because I’m intrigued enough with all the storylines to want to know what happens next (well, and also because J is reading them and I want to keep up). With the Lumatere Chronicles, I kept reading because my heart is f’ing bleeding for these people. In a completely made up kingdom, Melina Marchetta writes characters that are real and nuanced and believable and flawed.

I love them. I want to visit them.

I got all three books from the library, but this is a series I will buy and re-read for sure.

This is the worst review ever. I have told you nothing about the book. I guess you’ll just have to start reading if you want to know what it’s about. I will give you a few lines from the book though….

And Phaedra saw her smile, with a hint of mischief in it, and she couldn’t help smiling herself and then she was laughing. They both were, and the savage teeth were the most joyous sight Phaedra had seen for a long time. It was as if they were dancing. There it was. Suddenly the strangeness of Quintana of Charyn’s face made sense. Because it was a face meant for laughing, but it had never been given the chance. It robbed Phaedra of her breath.

Hey wait, there’s more! My sister is a book-pusher, and wants YOU to read the Lumatere Chronicles too. Clearly I also think this is a good idea. Just leave us a comment telling us what book you think everyone you know should read, like yesterday. We’ll send one lucky winner (US  only for a real book-International for a kindle version) a copy of Finnikin of the Rock. This post is completely sponsored by Amanda, because she is nice. We’ll pick the winner on Friday, 6/13!

Review: Froi of the Exiles

Title: Froi of the ExilesFroi

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 Dexterat 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.

Parting Words:

“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?”

“Probably not.”

“Then choose another bond. One written by yourself. Because it is what you do for strangers that counts in the end.”

Five Stars

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.

Review: Finnikin of The Rock


Title: Finnikin of the Rock

Series: Lumatere Chronicles #1

Author: Melina Marchetta

Reviewed by Holly

Amanda, the fastest and most voracious reader I know, has actually described a book to me before as “I finished it, and I loved it so much that I immediately started re-reading it again.”

One, I know, she’s kind of a nut. Two, I loved Finnikin of the Rock (another Amanda-recommended – or demanded – read) about that much. I found myself slowing down the closer I got to the end of the book, flipping back through previous chapters to check back on details I couldn’t quite remember, because I wasn’t ready for the story to be over.

Summary from Goodreads:

At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh to save his kingdom. He stands on the rock of the three wonders with his friend Prince Balthazar and Balthazar’s cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood to safeguard Lumatere. 

But all safety is shattered during the five days of the unspeakable, when the king and queen and their children are brutally murdered in the palace. An impostor seizes the throne, a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere’s walls, and those who escape are left to roam the land as exiles, dying by the thousands in fever camps.

Ten years later, Finnikin is summoned to another rock–to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, heir to the throne of Lumatere, is alive. This arrogant young woman claims she’ll lead Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, to the prince. Instead, her leadership points them perilously toward home. Does Finnikin dare believe that Lumatere might one day rise united? Evanjalin is not what she seems, and the startling truth will test Finnikin’s faith not only in her but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.

I loved fantasy stories as a kid – books like A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – and I adore the Harry Potter books. Our dad chose The Hobbit for childhood bedtime reading, so I was probably primed to love stories about faraway kingdoms.

However, my love for this book started out slow. I wasn’t sure how I felt after the first two chapters. The first chapter basically repeated the summary on the sleeve (hardcover. library.) and then jumps to ten years after the people of Lumatere lost their royal family, and were either trapped  outside the kingdom in exile or stuck with an imposter-king inside. It took a minute to get into the story and make sense of what had happened and what Finnikin and Sir Topher were trying to do. However, the more I read, the more I fell in love with the characters: Finnikin, who  lost his father and his kingdom, and agonized over his perceived guilt in orchestrating those losses – and the novice Evanjalin, who is strong and gentle and fearless and vulnerable all in one.

There were a couple details that I wanted Marchetta to flesh out more – like how girls became “novices,” the stories of the goddesses, and the circumstances in which Finnikin heard the words of a prophecy about his future when he was just eight. Maybe I’ll learn more about the kingdom of Lumatere in the other books, but if not, I’ll have to be satisified with the explainations of those questions offered by context.

And maybe, I’ll pull an Amanda and re-read the book again quickly to see if I can pick up anything that I missed.