Title: Quintana of Charyn (Lumatere Chronicles, #3)
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publisher: Viking Australia/Candlewick Press
Release Date: September 26th, 2012!
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.
Closing the book on this series is very hard, and I’m not quite sure how to let these characters go yet. I became so unbelievably invested in their stories, their lives, their journeys. I became so obsessed with this series, took my time and savored the books because I didn’t want them to end. But, by the time I hit that epilogue, my heart felt so happy and full. I can count on probably one hand the number of times I didn’t want a series to end. And sometimes I want more with my babies. But then I think about all they went through to get to that ending, and then I think their peace and happiness should not be disturbed.
When I first read Finnikin in 2014, I was not obsessed. I had loved the book, and the characters, but I didn’t become invested enough to want to finish the series asap. It wasn’t until my reread, and when I continued onto Froi, that I fell so in love with everything about this series that I’m not sure how I’m going to be able to properly review it. What can I say that I haven’t already said? How can I possibly explain to you the depth of emotions I felt while reading this series? How can I express how amazing Marchetta is with character arcs and relationships? This woman has a god-given gift for storytelling, and I will forever read her books after this, no matter what they’re about. This series is pure gold.
Most of that has to do with how character-driven these books are, how the plot is second to the readers understanding these people. Not just understand them, but LOVE who they are inside and out. Their character arcs are amazing. That adjective is not enough to describe it, but it’s as close as I can get. Isaboe is my home girl, my fave, the badass Queen of Lumatere. Finnikin, her ginger-haired, prideful, and stubborn king. Froi, the thief from the streets who grew up in a god-awful environment and who never believed he had any worth as a person. Trevanion, Captain of the Guard, a surly, silent, and imposing man who blames himself for things out of his control. Perri, the deadly assassin who has a hidden soft side when it comes to the people he loves. Lucian, leader of the Monts, a young man just trying to live in his father’s footsteps and be a good and kind leader to his people. The Charynites: Gargarin, Quintana, Phaedra, Lirah, Arjuro, De Lancey. People who prove that blood does not make you who you are, that you don’t have to mold yourself into being what everyone else wants. Two sides, two people, two kingdoms intertwined so thoroughly now that they will never be enemies again.
The magic of this story is not actual magic, but in the relationships that are forming throughout the series. The magic of love, of care, of kindness and forgiveness, of passion and emotions so strong that you start to understand just how powerful those relationships can be, and how unshakable. Sometimes I still believe Finnikin doesn’t deserve Isaboe, but he’s the one person who makes her feel so worthy and wanted, and they stand by each other through everything. Trevanion and Beatriss, two people who went through so fucking much during the curse that I don’t know how they they could still smile afterward, but who find peace in each other’s arms and a much-deserved second chance. Froi and Quintana, kids, just kids who have been beaten down and pushed beyond imaginable but who survived, and whose souls recognized in each other a brokenness that brings them understanding and a desire to heal together. Lucian and Phaedra, people from opposing kingdoms who help each other open up and find their true potential, and who learn to love despite their differences and blood. Perri and Tesadora, childhood enemies whose relationship was intense, but they fit so well together, and they understand and accept each other’s flaws. I also LOVED the banter and scenes with Lirah and Gargarin, and Arjuro and De Lancey. These four have known each other almost their whole lives, and they have a lot of history and it makes for deliciously intense scenes. There are not only romantic relationships, but those between people who aren’t related by blood, by people who are, those of family and those of friendship. They added so much depth to an already richly detailed series.
The plot is second to all of that, to the characters arcs and the relationships, but it never got boring. Its penchant for quiet rather than action-packed scenes does not diminish the fantasy in it. There is magic. I’m not sure if I completely understand the fantastical, in regards to Froi and Quintana and the souls they carry inside of them, and Isaboe’s walks in her sleep, so I might have liked a bit more resolution there, a bit more clear-cut details. But honestly, it didn’t make the story any less, and I found myself rather not paying as much attention to that aspect of it. And throughout the story, the series really, many secrets come to light and force the characters to open up their hearts and minds. It also helps them explain certain events and actions of other people. There is rage and anger and pain and darkness and two kingdoms who have each been through their own shit, who have each been beaten down by curses. They fight, but they make peace by the end. It was beautiful to see these two kingdoms unite in such a way, that not only showed the strength and compassion of humanity but how imperative survival is, even if it ruins relationships. I think I did wish for a more intense ending, though, instead of one that was reminiscent of Finnikin of the Rock. But let’s be real, I wouldn’t change a thing about this book.
The heart and soul of this book, and its series, are the characters. The characters that I’ve come to love so deeply, who are relatable and real and weak and strong and kind and mean and unlikable and likable. Characters who make you love them despite their flaws, despite actions that you might not understand or sympathize with. Characters who have been through so much, who have had to do what they could to survive in circumstances that were out of their control. No one in this whole story is untouched by darkness and pain. There is not one character who has not been put through hell and who has not fought their way out of that pit of grief and heartbreak. Through the relationships they forge with each other, they all find a much-deserved peace and happiness that is powerful enough to overcome any darkness. That epilogue was beautiful, and I wanted to cry as I was reading it because I didn’t want to say goodbye to these characters. I didn’t want to say goodbye to this series. But Quintana of Charyn was a satisfactory ending, and an incredible tribute to the characters who made this story what it was.
“It would have been the last thing I could have endured. Your death would have been the very last I could have endured.” -Arjuro
“Do you know who tells me my worth, Phaedra of Alonso? ...Me. I determine my own worth. If I had to rely on others, I’d have lain down and died waiting.” -Quintana
“Do you love me? Because if you don’t, I’d wait until you did. I’d wait weeks and months and years.” also: “Can I be reminded of how the Gods drew you?” -Lucian
“I don’t care what your blood sings, Froi. You belong to us. You’re a Lumateran.” -Isaboe
“Our bodies aren’t strangers. Our spirits aren’t strangers. Tell me what part of me is stranger to you, and I’ll destroy that part of me.” -Froi
“I’m not worth the valley.” -Froi “You’re worth a kingdom.” -Finnikin