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Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta

September 27, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Quintana of Charyn (Lumatere Chronicles #3)
by Melina Marchetta

Quintana of Charyn (Lumatere Chronicles #3)

By: Melina Marchetta

Release Date: September 26, 2012 (Australia)

Rating: 5 Stars

Summary: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.

Review:

The stunning conclusion to the Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta is finally here and every word was well worth the wait. Twice now, Marchetta has delivered indescribable stories of a cursed land, a nation of refugees, a series of powerful characters who exemplified hope, vengeance, and forgiveness rising from great tragedy, all through two unforgettable books. With so much on the line, a lot can go wrong, but I’m glad to report Quintana of Charyn ends the series on a high note that does its predecessors proud.

I don’t think I need to recap how much I enjoyed Finnikin of the Rock, a book so moving I didn’t think it could be topped – until I read Froi of the Exiles. By now, every one of these characters, Froi, Finnikin, Isaboe, Quintana, Lucian, Phaedra, and so many others, are like familiar friends, and many a scene in Quintana of Charyn brought a smile to my face simply by reminding me of how much I’ve grown to care for each of them, their friendships, their families, their loyalties, their struggles, their triumphs. And Quintana really brings this series full circle= with her attention to detail, her gift for subtle character development, and her ability to make even minor events of the first book hugely relevant to the current plot, Marchetta’s done a wonderful job tying together the three books in some really neat yet intricate ways. In a way, it’s fitting too, because Quintana of Charyn is a fairly straightforward story, the plot does an admirable but relatively simple job of connecting the futures of its characters with the fate of Charyn, just like Finnikin of the Rock connected the futures of the characters of that book with the fate of Lumatere – I’d definitely say this final book is stylistically closer to the first than its direct predecessor. For me, Quintana never approaches the sheer complexity of Froi of the Exiles, but it doesn’t have to, Froi already does the required work by setting up these wonderfully complex characters, and all Quintana has to do is bring them home.

Of course, it’s not that easy, going home. Even though the title of the book is Quintana of Charyn, plotwise it’s really Froi of the Exiles, Part Two, because the focus of the story is still Froi’s journey. He’s torn between his home with the Lumaterans and his home with Quintana, Gargarin, Arjuro, and Lirah in Charyn, and his conflict over where he belongs, like an extension of the wider conflict between Lumatere and Charyn – but on a personal level, just resonates throughout the book. It’s incredible how effortlessly Marchetta’s writing seems to emphasize all these conflicting ties in one person, with Froi’s loyalty and friendship with Finnikin and Isaboe balanced perfectly against his love for Quintana, Gargarin, and Lirah. So no matter where Froi happened to be, no matter what he happened to do, I was always rooting for him to find his place in the world, even though both sides are written so pitch perfectly I couldn’t even decide myself how he should choose, that’s how powerfully every single one of Froi’s relationships feels. I’m not going to spoil the ending, but the way it’s resolved, it’s one of the most appropriate endings I’ve ever read, and it just kept reminding me of Froi of the Exiles’s most memorable line, ‘blood sings to blood’.

But even if the focus is on Froi, so many other stories, Finnikin’s, Isaboe’s, Phaedra’s, Quintana’s, they all seamlessly intersect to combine into one incredible book. Quintana made such a huge impression on me in Froi of the Exiles with her tragic character and strange demeanor, and here she demonstrates once again how she’s much more than just Froi’s other half. In hiding, she’s got a lot to do, building slow, inspiring friendships with Phaedra in particular but also with a couple of other strong female characters, demonstrating just how tough she is, heck, opening not just my eyes, but the eyes of her fellow Charynites. I always looked forward to the few sections from her point of view, there’s a certain strange poetry to her tortured words, but even from the point of view of any of the other characters, she shows why she deserves to headline this book even if the show is ultimately about Froi. A quick read of just the epilogue alone reveals just how far she’s come as a character, not just from the tragedy surrounding her birth and childhood, but from Charyn’s entire history. Hers is the kind of ending that leaves me hopeful for the future.

Of course, even if Froi and Quintana are obviously the two main characters, their stories are just the tip of the iceberg. Quintana of Charyn is such a fully character driven novel, I can spend days covering every single character who made an impression on me and I still wouldn’t be finished. Isaboe and Finnikin, sure, Finnikin annoyed me at first with his overpossessiveness, but I meant it when I said Finnikin’s friendship with Froi, like so much of the book, shines through in a way that brought a smile to my face. Isaboe even more, not just her obvious love for Finnikin, but the incredible way her character develops through the book, shedding her stoic Evanjalin guise to reveal a far more multifaceted character, someone deeply hurt by the events of Lumatere’s recent past but, in the end, is still a big enough person that she’s capable of demonstrating just how powerful small gestures can be. Or Phaedra and Lucian, their story was kind of out of place in Froi of the Exiles but Quintana ties their plotline with the main story so well, and yet somehow still manages to retain everything that made it special, their mutual respect for each others’ strengths, the emotion in Phaedra’s sacrifice. And I haven’t even talked about Gargarin and Arjuro and Lirah and Tesadora and De Lancey and Beatriss and Barakah and Lord August and Perri and Olivier and Dorcas and even Celie who makes an appearance from Ferragost, truly, I am going to miss every single one of these characters.

So, I have good news and I have bad news. Good news, Quintana of Charyn is a wholly character driven fantasy that shattered all of my expectations for the final book of the Lumatere Chronicles. Bad news, this may be the final book by Melina Marchetta for some time. But if, like Gargarin, I look on the side of wonder, her hiatus really only reinforces my appreciation for how truly special this series has been.

Go to Mitch’s review on Goodreads.

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