I really thought there was NO possible way Marchetta could impress with "Froi of the Exiles" after she TOTALLY blew me away with "Finnikin of the Rock." But boy was I wrong. I don't think I can say which book I loved more, but
I DO think Marchetta put a lot more thought into this one.
I'm not sure what took me so long to read this book. My history with this series: (view spoiler)[When W.T. first told me back in February how much she loved "Finnikin of the Rock," I thought she was crazy. I wasn't too keen on reading a book from a male's point of view because I had yet to find any that I really liked, let alone loved. After a month of putting it aside, she finally convinced me to give it a chance. And I was hooked - by the story, by the characters, by the twists, by Marchetta's writing, by everything. So I started recommending the book to others. But when it came to "Froi of the Exiles," I read the prologue and the first chapter and stopped for some reason. I remember telling M. back in March that I wasn't ready to read about how this disrespectful, crude, foul-mouth, ill-tempered, trouble-causing thief had grown up. I've been meaning to get back to it but just kind of forgot about it until now, five months later, A. and I were discussing the first book, and we decided to read this one together. (hide spoiler)]
And I was NOT disappointed.WARNING: This review DOES contain either unmarked spoilers or hints about the book's story development.
The reason why I thought Marchetta did such a better job with this book was because
it was SO complex.
Book 1 focused on Finn and his mission to return the rightful heir back to Lumatere as well as Evanjalin and her mysterious quest. This book not only focused on a grown-up Froi and the bond that brings him to Charyn as well as the ever-so-strange Quintana and her role to break the curse, but it also involved so many other characters and the politics that threatens war within Charyn but also with other neighboring kingdoms.
To see how Marchetta develop each character and how she incorporates each intricate detail to this complicated network of co-existing communities is utterly amazing.
So much of
this book was based on character development.
Whereas Evanjalin always knew who she was, Froi grew up not knowing where he came from or where he belongs. And Quintana, although she always "knew" where she came from, she had to learn about balance and discovered who she REALLY was - and not in the soul-searching way either.
Gosh, how do I rave about Froi and Quintana without spoiling the book?
Froi isn't your typical trained assassin on a mission to fulfill this bond with his queen. No,
his life becomes much more complicated with each person he meets.
This drifter who used to not care about anyone but himself has not only learned to be loyal to his Lumaterean queen and her people - those he have the utmost respect for - but Froi learned to care about INDIVIDUAL people, many of whom he can't even stand. And no,
it's not hard to guess where he is from (the kingdom, not the actual province) and what he has to do with the curse.
HOWEVER, Marchetta threw in so many twists that it kept me on my toes. But they weren't twists that made you think, "What the hell, yet ANOTHER twist?!?" Nope, you can tell
the twists were well planned, and every time she threw something else at you, you're just left in awe.
And (view spoiler)[I knew as soon as he was introduced to her who his mother was, but I was taken by surprised by who his father was. (hide spoiler)]
And Quintana. Oh my, what an interesting character.
I knew why she was the "half mad princess," but the whole explanation of how she became such was so hauntingly beautiful,
and it totally blew me away. Princess Indignant was irritating, exasperating but amusing. And Cold Quintana was unsettling, and there was a lot to her. Here comes to play that concept of balance and how each part of her dealt with situations she was faced. Not only that, but how everyone else regarded her.
Marchetta just did a truly amazing job writing Quintana, and I am more than eager to see more of this in Book 3.
I did have one concern though, and that was at one point Arjuro said (view spoiler)[there were three of Quintana. (hide spoiler)]
I want to know if this is true at all or if it was because he made a wrong observation.
But for me, the most powerful character in the book was not one of our two main ones - Gargarin. When we first meet him, he is just a crippled old man with a chip on his shoulder.
But there are SO many layers to him.
You can't even begin to fathom everything he has been through, all the decisions he has made in life, all of the truths or half-truths of even lies he has told and the reasoning behind them and most of all, how
everything was so planned in his head,
and you can see the gears ticking as he makes each decision and each move. And what's incredible was not his actual actions but the seeds he plants in others. He is truly a complicated character that is more than meets the eye.
And I loved how all of the side stories played out and how each one of them, although you wouldn't think so, provides
just enough detail at just the right time.
Finn and Isaboe, Beatriss and Trevanion, Tesadora and Perri, Rafuel, Lucian and Phaedra (OMG, I am DYING to know more about this last one). Every side story made you say, "Oh, so THAT is how everything is linked together," and it's so crafty because it's obviously not that important but
everything is so relevant in the grand scheme of things.
A few things I did NOT like, though not enough to bump the rating down…
While I was glad to see more of our beloved couple from Book 1,
what in the world did Marchetta do to Finnikin and Isaboe?
I'm not a huge fan of Finnikin in this book.
Finn seems so possessive and jealous of just about everyone
- Froi for the bond he shares with the queen, Tesadora for her connection with Isaboe and even Jasmina his own daughter. "But Isaboe was all hers. If there was one thing he and his daughter shared, it was the desire to be the only person in Isaboe’s life." Really?
And Isaboe? What happened to the strength and determination she had in Book 1?
I know this are a bit different now, and I understand that her decisions are hard to make as she tries to decide what is best for her kingdom. I KNOW she's going to be unsure and will have to rely on some advice. But I guess the way she is presented in this book, it was almost as if she was a scared, weak ruler that DEPENDED on the wisdom of others. I guess I just wasn't fond of the way those two were presented in this book, especially when such important matters were at stake.
And with each character development, you see how it affects the rest of the politics that is involved in this whole story.
What an amazing masterpiece Marchetta has created.
And there is one thing that I still don't really understand and would like to learn more about is the whole oracle deal and the being spoken by the gods thing. (view spoiler)[The book says there is an oracle every generation, but there has not been one in 18 years, so at first I was wondering if Froi or Quintana may have been the hidden oracle. Especially since they said the oracle does not have a name, and Froi doesn't really mean anything and Dafar actually means "nothing" or "nobody." And he has the word of the gods on his back. But I'm assuming the oracle is female, so he can't be the oracle. And since Quintana has to do with the curse, she can't be the oracle. So where is this oracle, if there even is one, for the last 18 years. (hide spoiler)]
So yes, it took me FOREVER to read this book, but you know I will not be waiting another day once Book 3 comes out.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>