Tag Archives: Lumatere

Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

14 Jun

So, about a month-ish ago before I lost my mind trying to move all my crap for the umpteenth time this year, I reviewed Melina Marchetta’s Finnikin of the Rock. I loved the crap out of that book and was chomping at the bit for the sequel, Froi of the Exiles¬†(Candlewick Press). I think that, in an alternate universe, I will write a paper about the psychological state of a person delving into a much-anticipated installation in a series versus that of a person cracking open a standalone or a first book. Totally different experiences, and if any of you are academic types I give you permission to steal my genius ideas and go win the Nobel. Anyways, I was excited, and alas, while I did really like Froi I didn’t LOVE it the way I did Finnikin.

It’s been three years since Finnikin and Isaboe reclaimed Lumatere from the imposter king, and both the land and its people are still healing. Froi has spent the past three years working the land with Lord August, studying with the Priest King, and training with the King’s Guard. When Froi is sent on a mission to infiltrate the royal court of Charyn so he can assassinate the king who orchestrated the Five Days of the Unspeakable, he finds himself drawn into the tragedy of the mad princess Quintana. You see, Charyn has its own cute little curse: no child has been born or conceived there for eighteen years. Quintana, through her own oracular proclivities, long ago claimed that she was the only one who could break the curse, and so has been essentially whoring herself¬† out to royal d-bags for her entire young adult life in order to save her country by producing a child. As Froi struggles to find a way to fulfill his mission, he slowly loses himself into the twisted workings of accursed Charyn, and each twist brings him closer to finding out what his destined role in all the madness is.

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Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

22 Apr

I have a not-so-surprising secret to share:

I am a serious fantasy nerd.

I mean it. Before I went to college, became an English major, and learned that it is shameful to read anything but literary fiction, I was a rabid consumer of paperback fantasies of the $6.99 variety. If there was a dragon or a woman disguising herself as a man to become a mage/warrior/first class citizen or whatever the hell I was on it (and yes, I read A Game of Thrones waaaaaay before it became an HBO series). Then I was brainwashed into believing that if it wasn’t literary it wasn’t worth reading, and I spent years slogging through things that I didn’t really enjoy but appreciated. It was actually through delving back into the wonderful world of YA fantasy that I re-discovered my absolute mania for reading. However, my time as an English major changed me: I will still shamelessly indulge in genre fiction without coming close to giving a damn, but now I tend to filter my selections a bit more based on a little thing called “quality writing.” (But only a bit.) That’s where Melina Marchetta comes in.

I fell in love with Melina Marchetta’s writing when I read her Printz award-winning novel, Jellicoe Road. If you like really complex, slowly unfurling and beautifully written stories and like to cry a shit ton, then Jellicoe Road is probably for you. Once I read it I of course decided to pursue her other books, and that’s when I came across Finnikin of the Rock, her first fantasy novel for teens (which was published in 2008 but WHATEVER. I can’t be on top of every damn thing). Say what? Could a master of contemporary teen realism really make that transition? Well, in, short: hell yes.

When Finnikin was nine years old he received a prophecy stating that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh in order to save his kingdom, Lumatere. So, being a strapping young lad, he gets his two best royal buddies together on a rock and they each cut a chunk of skin out of their thighs all in the name of heroism. I mean, that’s pretty standard behavior for a nine-year-old, right? Right. So, right after they do the great thigh-cut-a-thon, the Five Days of the Unspeakable happens: the royal family is assassinated, Lumatere is invaded by a royal asshole of a cousin, half the kingdom flees, a healer/witch lays a blood curse on the land while she’s being burned at the stake, and then this crazy black mist thing engulfs the kingdom, trapping those who remained IN and those who fled OUT. Got that? Yeah, neither did I for the first hundred pages, but all in good time. Flash forward ten years to Finnikin, now a hunk of burning 19-year-old, wandering the land with Sir Topher, the assassinated King’s First Man, in an attempt to account for all the displaced Lumaterans in order to find a nice little chunk of land where they can settle without fear of being sold to slavers, abused, starved, forced to live in ghettos to die of disease, etc. This really pleasant past-time gets disrupted when Finnikin and Topher take on a mute Novice named Evanjalin who claims to be able to walk through the dreams of those still trapped in Lumatere. Oh, and she also says that the royal prince Balthazar, one of Finnikin’s royal thigh-cutting buddies, is still alive. Finnikin must rely on the evasive and suspicious Evanjalin to lead him to the Prince so that the exiled nation of Lumatere can return home.

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