Thursday, November 20, 2014

Series Review: The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta

Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles, #1)
At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh to save his kingdom. He stands on the rock of the three wonders with his friend Prince Balthazar and Balthazar's cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood to safeguard Lumatere.

But all safety is shattered during the five days of the unspeakable, when the king and queen and their children are brutally murdered in the palace. An impostor seizes the throne, a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere's walls, and those who escape are left to roam the land as exiles, dying by the thousands in fever camps.

Ten years later, Finnikin is summoned to another rock--to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, heir to the throne of Lumatere, is alive. This arrogant young woman claims she'll lead Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, to the prince. Instead, her leadership points them perilously toward home. Does Finnikin dare believe that Lumatere might one day rise united? Evanjalin is not what she seems, and the startling truth will test Finnikin's faith not only in her but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.

In a bold departure from her acclaimed contemporary novels, Printz Medalist Melina Marchetta has crafted an epic fantasy of ancient magic, feudal intrigue, romance, and bloodshed that will rivet you from the first page.

(Summary from GoodReads)

After loving Jellicoe Road, I assumed that Melina Marchetta plus high fantasy would be the ultimate combination for me. Luckily, I turned out to be right. Marchetta is a brilliant world builder who developed dynamic, engaging characters and wrote their story in a way that broke my heart.

Finnikin of the Rock has a sad premise, and I have to admit that it took me a while for things to start. Evenjalin is mysterious when Finnkin first meets her, and I think her part of the story got off to a bit of a slow start because the reader knows so little. A few parts in the middle of this book were a little bit confusing, and once you got to the end, it was so uplifting that there’s nothing to do but sob.

Like many good fantasies, Finnikin of the Rock had a decent amount of action, however, like with all Marchetta books, it was the interaction that made it so great. There’s a lot of tension between characters—emotions that they want to express but don’t know how, and things that they learn about each other. Marchetta’s world is also full of tragedy, and she made me believe how much pain it caused each and every one of her characters.

I love Finnikin of the Rock because once you get to the end, the payoff is there—you’ll see what I mean when you reach the end of the book. I love that it is it’s only complete book while still laying the foundation for a brilliant trilogy. This is definitely a story that’s earned its place on my favorites shelf.

Froi of the Exiles (Lumatere Chronicles, #2)
Blood sings to blood, Froi . . .  

 Those born last will make the first . . . 

For Charyn will be barren no more.   

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 trained roughly and lovingly by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds. Here he encounters a damaged people who are not who they seem, and must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad Princess.  

And in this barren and mysterious place, he will discover that there is a song sleeping in his blood, and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen.  

Gripping and intense, complex and richly imagined, Froi of the Exiles is a dazzling sequel to Finnikin of the Rock, from the internationally best-selling and multi-award-winning author of Looking for Alibrandi, Saving Francesca, On the Jellicoe Road and The Piper's Son.

(Summary from GoodReads) 

If you took every trilogy I have ever read, Froi of the Exiles would be my favorite middle book amidst all the choices.  Froi may be a long book, but every page of it is beautifully written and expertly plotted.  I was so happy to learn more about Froi and see this series develop.

Book two of the Lumatere Chronicles is set three years after Finnikin, and I loved seeing how much Froi had grown as a character.  He thinks very carefully about who he is and his relationships with those around him, and as the book goes on, he’s forced to keep asking these questions in contexts that help move the plot along.  Of course I also loved learning more about the half-mad princess and Charyn.

Honestly, my favorite part of this book is how well it’s plotted.  If you pick up this large book, then you probably like the series enough to be invested, but you don’t realize how you’ll be absorbed by the time you finish.  Marchetta starts her story off slowly and it just keeps going more quickly until it ends on a cliffhanger.  Because it’s Marchetta the emotional tension keeps building throughout the story, making it a total white knuckle read.

Froi of the Exiles is exactly what book two in a series should be.  It added intrigue, layer, and dimension to the wonderful story Marchetta had already started and is well deserving of five out of five stars and two thumbs up.

Quintana of Charyn (Lumatere Chronicles, #3)
There's a babe in my belly that whispers the valley, Froi. I follow the whispers and come to the road...

 Separated from the girl he loves and has sworn to protect, Froi must travel through Charyn to search for Quintana, the mother of Charyn's unborn king, and protect her against those who will do anything to gain power. But what happens when loyalty to family and country conflict? When the forces marshalled in Charyn's war gather and threaten to involve the whole of the land, including Lumatere, only Froi can set things right, with the help of those he loves.

(Summary from GoodReads)

I knew going into Quintana that a lot was at stake and that it was going to be an emotional read.  I turned out to be very right.  A lot of what happened in Quintana of Charyn made me cry, and it was beautifully written, making it my favorite book of this trilogy.

Charyn is a fragile kingdom that’s undergoing some major changes.  By this point in the series I really cared about Quintana and Froi and however they ended up, and I also knew that every choice they made had a huge impact on the people around them.  A lot of the action that happens in this book is quieter stuff, such as people dealing with new lives and losses, yet I cared so much that I still found myself quickly turning the pages and trying to absorb every moment.

Marchetta managed to make me cry a lot in this one.  Froi has a lot of things to figure out since he feels loyalty to Charyn and Lumatere.  And seeing how different nuclear families grow and change throughout this book really got to me.

Quintana of Charyn was a beautiful conclusion to a series featuring characters I genuinely care about it.  I would give this trilogy to anyone who wants character driven YA fantasy.  It’s no surprise to me that even more Marchetta books are finding their way to my favorites shelf.

Disclosure: I purchased copies of all of these books because I knew they would blow my mind.


  1. I'm so glad you loved this series and YAAASSSS Quintana!!! That was my favorite too!!!

  2. YESSSS. Froi of the Exiles is one of my favorite books, period, and Melina Marchetta just takes the cake for the most emotional books. I love all her books, and you're right - I manage to cry for almost all of them!

    - Kritika @ Snowflakes & Spider silk



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