Subversive Reader Reviews: Froi of the Exiles (AWW2013)

Book reviews and AWW posts can be found here.

AWW2013 – Book 15

Froi of the Exile

Froi of the Exiles

Melina Marchetta
Young Adult Speculative Fiction

Library Book, Moreton Bay Regional Libraries

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This is the second book in the trilogy, coming after Finnikin of the Rock. I was really apprehensive about reading it, since it was such a thick book in the fantasy genre – which I still have some trouble with. However, by and large, I was fine with reading it, and most of the time I didn’t even realise how long it was. Spoiler warning – I’ll probably spoil the first book in this review. Go and read the first book first!

This time the story focuses primarily on Froi, the boy picked up by Finnikin and Isaboe during the first book. There are big problems in the neighbouring kingdom of Charyn and Froi is recruited to head across the border with orders to assassinate the king. He is accompanied by the perpetually grumpy, Gargarin, and is soon entered into the royal court on (lengthy and complicated) false pretenses. There he meets the strange and damaged Quintana and the story becomes even more complicated and engrossing. Meanwhile, back in Lumatere, Finnikin, Isaboe and Finnikin’s old friend Lucian are all coming to terms with the responsibilities which have been thrust upon them.

To be honest, at times I felt like the book was too long. I wondered whether it would be better cut into two books, to create a series rather than a trilogy, or whether a heavy dose of editing would have helped. It almost always felt longer during the parts that were set with Froi – there seemed to be endless close calls and near misses which made it harder to follow at times (though maybe I’d have done better if I was the kind of person to look at the maps at the front of books). I adored the parts with Isaboe, coming to terms with not only being Queen, but also being a new mother. I also loved Lucian’s story, and almost wish I could get more about him.

The new characters introduced in Froi of the Exiles are universally interesting, if not always likable. Almost every character is written with several motivations and backgrounds, some of which we only catch a glimpse of as we are reading. Parts of the story are incredibly sad, and other terribly frustrating (just because the characters make silly choices, not because of the writing). I did enjoy it, and I am trying to find the third in the trilogy at the local library, but I might take a little time out with some other books – and I might even stretch a bit more into some adult fantasy!

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