Tuesday, January 1, 2013

BR: Quintana of Charyn

by Melina Marchetta
The Lumatere Chronicles; book III

***This review contains super-mild spoilers for Froi of the Exiles***

Here's a link to the Goodreads summary

Melina Marchetta is my favourite YA author.

She makes me break all my rules.

This isn't a review.

Not really.

Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.   - John Green (The Fault in Our Stars)

That quote kind of describes my feelings for Quintana of Charyn. For any Melina Marchetta book, really.

I would talk about the plot, the vast, sweeping, intricate plot that was weaved through the trilogy and came to a completely satisfying conclusion, but this book is not about the plot. It really isn't, it's about the characters.

These characters I hold so dear to my heart. And a part of me hates the way the author has put them through so much hell and heartbreak, so much pain. But they wouldn't be the same and I wouldn't want it any different.

Lucian. The Tom Mackee that became more and more apparent, who's surrounded by so many strong women, who keeps trying to do the right thing yet keeps screwing up. Who's too proud and too stubborn but loves so fiercely without abandon.

Phaedra of Alonso. You wonderful, brave, capable, compassionate woman. I don't know how I didn't notice you before, but that Lucian sure is an idiot sometimes, isn't he?

Isaboe and Finn. I don't know how to describe it. There's so much I could say about them, about their relationship. I love them both so dearly; I love Isaboe's strength and her ties to her kingdom, her adoration for her husband and child, and I love the flaws of Finnikin and his insecurities. It's hard to comprehend Marchetta's ability to weave so much soul into these two characters. They're perhaps my favourite couple.

Gargarin. Arjuro. Lirah. My heart aches so hard for these three, whose lives have been shattered and dragged through pain and suffering and imprisonment. To have lost so much and been hurt so deeply by circumstances and forces outside their control, it's unfathomable and so heartbreaking. And they are complicated and messy and stubborn and loving. I hope that their side of wonder will forever shine brighter than the side of disaster.

All [Froi] knew was that pain placed the wrong words into their mouths. All of them. Forces outside their control had destroyed the lives and friendships and loves of De Lancey and Lirah and Arjuro and Gargarin long ago, and now even the future would keep them apart.

And Quintana of Charyn. Quintana the Brave. Who says "greedy with hope" with a tone of wonder. When she has sacrificed herself and her body to protect the lastborn girls, a reader grows to understand her savage need for survival. "Now here's a heroine", a reader will think. From her small, crooked teeth to her making a spear. Her immense strength and courage and bravery to live through all the tragedy and horror of her life and of the brutal, brutal men she has known. One of her last scenes with Froi is just phenomenally written.

There it was. Suddenly the strangeness of Quintana of Charyn's face made sense. Because it was a face meant for laughing, but it had never been given a chance.

And finally, Froi. Froi of the Exiles, Froi of Lumatere, Froi of Charyn. The boy from the streets of Sarnak without a history, who did awful things and had awful things done to him. The boy who grew up into a man who belonged to many, who belonged to Lord Augie and Perri and Trevanion and Isaboe. Who was a brother to Finn and Lucian. Who was a son to Gargarin and Lirah. Who had a list of thirty people he would trust with his life. Who is bound to the women in his life, and loves fiercely and leans on the side of wonder. Froi is simply a magnificent character.

Ms Marchetta, I don't know how you do it. Thank you for writing a book filled with brave, strong women. For a book about men who would be nowhere without these women. There was a lot of fist-pumping. Thank you for a book that has characters that are flawed so deeply yet love so strongly. And yes, you may have pulled some of these beloved characters into crevices so dark and painful but thank you for pulling them out. I'm still thinking about them.


(this is my favourite book of 2012)

Happy New Year.



  1. Audrey, this is such a lovely review. It all comes down to characters, doesn't it, when you love a book? Seeing how much you love this one, I may have to give Finnikin of the Rock another chance. Because I'd love to feel how you feel, like that quote describes.

    Happy new year, love! <3

  2. I just read The Lumatere Chronicles myself and I have to agree they are probably my faves of the year! It's the Marchetta magic. I am totally with you on the characters - they get under your skin and stay there. Froi and Quintana especially just burrowed into my heart. They are all magnificent.


for those who are confused, it means "Don't forget to be AWESOME". *hugs*