Froi of the Exiles, by Melina Marchetta, was published in 2011 by Candlewick Press. It is the sequel to Finnikin of the Rock.
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 taken roughly and lovingly in hand by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family and has learned to control his quick temper with a warrior’s discipline. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds in its surreal royal court. Soon he must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad princess in this barren and mysterious place. It is in Charyn that he will discover that there is a song sleeping in his blood…and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen.
I enjoyed Finnikin of the Rock, which I found to be an intriguing and well-imagined tale despite its grittiness. So I was expecting to get more of the same with Froi of the Exiles…and I got way, way more.
I read the entirety of this book in one day because I really could not put it down. When I tried to put it down to do other things (like work), my mind continued to return to it until I could no longer concentrate and had to keep reading. Finnikin was good and I enjoyed it, but I devoured Froi.
Froi continues the grittiness of Finnikin, and in some aspects I think it’s even darker if that’s possible. But mixed with that grittiness is a surprising humor, made possible with the snark and ready wit of Gargarin and Arjuro and occasionally Froi, and a gripping, suspenseful plot. Then there’s the absolutely heartbreaking Quintana, who is both tragic and awesome (I’m really looking forward to her development in the next book, Quintana of Cheryn), and the shocker of an ending which made my mouth fall open. All of these combine to make a fabulous book, one I will not forget in a hurry.
Perhaps the one tiny flaw is that the trilogy format strikes again, with the stand-alone first book and the connected-plot-arc second and third. Not really a bad thing, but it’s a formula I wish was used less often.
Recommended Age Range: 16+
Warnings: Sexual situations and thoughts, swearing, violence, mentions of rape and torture, death.
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
“Do you not have something to tell us, Oliver of Sebastabol?” she asked in an indignant whisper.
He tried to think of what he should say. Was there something Rafuel had left out in his instructions?
“Perhaps tomorrow we can go for a walk down to the Citavita,” he said pleasantly. Dismissively. “How about that?”
She shook her head. “We prefer not to leave the palace.”
“We?” Froi asked curiously, looking around. “We who?”
After a moment, she pointed to herself.