Froi of the Exiles (Lumatere Chronicles, book two)
By Melina Marchetta
Published 2012 by Candlewick
WARNING: There may be spoilers ahead. For my review of book one, go here.
Three years have passed since the curse ended and Froi believes he has found his home. But when he's sent to the kingdom of Charyn on a secret mission, he will learn things he never expected and find answers he can no longer deny.
Finnikin of the Rock was one of my absolute favorite reads of last year, so when I spotted both of the sequels on the shelf at the library at the same time, I snatched up the opportunity to actually finish a series I had started. The benefit of waiting until this summer to do so is that the third book was just released in the spring, so I could read the sequel without having to wait for book three. I'm not sure how easy it will be to review the two books separately, especially because, in this case, they really felt like one giant book that the author split into two. I really wonder if that's what happened here, particularly because of the timeline of the three books (books two and three take place three years after the events of book one, but book three takes place immediately after the events of book two).
Regardless, I'll do my best here to focus strictly on book two. I'm sure I'm not the only person who was sad to discover that Froi, not Finnikin, would be the main focus of this book. I admit, I fell a teeny bit in love with Finn when I read book one. Given Froi's extremely troubled history, I didn't expect the same thing to happen in this book. And it didn't, not exactly anyway. While I never fell in love with Froi, I really grew to be on his side. Through the course of this book (and the next, as well) Froi really grows as a character. It becomes incredibly easy to see why Finn and Isaboe love him, and why he is one of the most respected in this kingdom. Once again, Marchetta has proved her skills at crafting unforgettable characters.
Froi's mission into Charyn is the main plot of this book and it leads to the unraveling of his personal history. Of course, Froi's personal history is tied very closely with the history of Lumatere, so the story is much larger than it initially appears. Marchetta does an excellent job keeping readers engaged, even given that this book is nearly 600 pages long. She expertly moves back and forth among characters and narrative threads, keeping them clear and easy to follow.
As much as I loved Finnikin of the Rock, I think Froi of the Exiles is an even stronger book. It has everything I loved about book one, and then some. If I thought I had all the feels while reading book one, I was completely unprepared for book two. This book - these characters, this world - gets you right in the gut. It grabs you and doesn't let go. And, it all gears you up for the absolutely stunning final chapter - review to come soon.