Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

January 8, 2012 Reviews 0

Melina Marchetta’s first novel Looking For Alibrandi was published in 1992 and was released as a film in 2000 which she also wrote. She taught secondary school English and History for ten years during which time she released her second novel Saving Francesca followed by On the Jellicoe Road.  In 2006 she left teaching to become a full time writer. Her first fantasy novel, Finnikin of the Rock was published in 2008 and in 2010 The Piper’s Son, a companion novel to Saving Francesca was released. She has written a children’s book, The Gorgon in the Gully, as part of the Puffin Pocket Money series.

I received this book for review from Candlewick Press, via netGalley.

Blood sings to blood, Froi … Those born last will make the first, for Charyn will be barren no more. 

   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 learnt 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 what 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 there is a song sleeping in his blood, and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen.

Froi begins a wonderful journey of self discovery as he sets off to Lumatere’s neighbouring kingdom, Charyn, and quickly finds out that there something mysterious and magical going on. As in Finnikin of the Rock, the magic in this book is understated and permeates the book without taking over the plot. Melina Marchetta proves, once again, that she is the master of stories involving exploration and understanding of self, and uses the magic of the fantastical world she has created as a vehicle for this. 

The Princess of Charyn is borderline insane for most of the book, and I thought she was pretty pathetic for a while, before her bravery and selflessness was revealed. Marchetta does a wonderful job of writing through a male point of view, and I’ve realised I like it a lot when the story is told this way. Froi is a great character who I found it easy to identify with, and his growth is slow, bumbling and realistic in a way that is rare on young adult fiction these days. 

My main disappointment in this book is the end. Finnikin of the Rock is a self contained story with a wonderful conclusion, while this book is very obviously sets up a sequel story. Many questions go unanswered and the epilogue tore my heart out. I need to read the next book as quickly as possible! This book is as unique and mesmerising as its predecessor, and I must point out that while it would be desirable, it is not necessary to have read Finnikin of the Rock to follow and understand Froi of the Exiles

Gripping, complex and wondrous all at once, Froi of the Exiles is a book that should not be missed by young adult readers. If you haven’t read a lot of fantasy, then Melina Marchetta’s Chronicles of Lumatere are a great place to start.

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