Jan 20, 2013

Book review: Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta

I am overwhelmed by how perfectly completed this trilogy is. One of the most brilliant things about this whole trilogy, but this third and final book in particular, is how seamlessly history and current events are woven together so that you're both reminded of events that took place in the previous two novels, as well as given carefully revealed tidbits of information from the history of these countries, to give context to the action happening in the present. A phenomenal ending, not only with all the loose ends tied up, but some lovely additions or plot asides (such as recognizing the bravery and sacrifice made by a 17-year-old Charynite boy in Lumatere 13 years earlier leading to child care advice for Quintana, or Quintana softening enough to play matchmaker) that balanced out all the sadness that came before. Toward the final third of the book, I found myself crying at the small moments of happiness, the expressions of love, instead of over the horrors that came before.

One of my favorite paragraphs:
"And Phaedra saw her smile, with a hint of mischief in it, and she couldn't help smiling herself and then she was laughing. They both were, and the savage teeth were the most joyous sight Phaedra had seen for a long time. It was as if they were dancing. 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. It robbed Phaedra of her breath." (pg. 201)
That, to me, is where Melina Marchetta is truly gifted, in that she can make those sweet moments so profound because of the bitterness that is being let go because of them. She makes forgiveness and love such a powerful force throughout this entire series, but most particularly in this third and final installment of The Lumatere Chronicles, Quintana of Charyn.

I will try to describe the plot without giving too much away. At the end of book 2, Froi of the Exiles, Froi was left for dead with 8 arrows in his body, while Quintana was spirited away through underground caves to no one knows where. Froi is saved by his birth uncle, Arjuro, the gods-blessed priestling, and is reunited in Charyn with his birth father, the genius Gargarin, and his birth mother, Lirah of Serker.

Meanwhile, Quintana has gotten herself to Lumatere, where she is being reluctantly taken care of by Phaedra of Alonso and the other escaped Charynite women living in the valley between Charyn and Lumatere. The women fakes their deaths to keep news of Quintana from reaching the evil Charynite soldiers-for-hire who killed the seven scholars-turned-soldiers (Rafuel's) men, in book 2. All the women are hiding out in a cave a few miles upstream from the rest of the refugees, with only Rafuel knowing their truth. It is when Quintana begins leaving the cave to hunt for food and meets Lady Beatriss's daughter Vestie, and is found by Tesadora, that the plot begins to unfold.

In Froi's adventures, he's traveling back and forth through Charyn with Gargarin and Lirah in an attempt to both find Quintana and raise an army to rescue her from whoever has her. In Quintana's adventures, as more people find out the women aren't dead and that Quintana is there, the more all the women, but most especially Quintana and the unborn little king, are in danger, for Bestiano, the horrible man who raped Quintana and was trying to take over the palace and the kingdom of Charyn, is still alive and has offered gold as a reward to any man who will bring him the little king, not Quintana, alive.

Subplots include a jealous argument between Finnikin and Isaboe that leads to Finnikin accompanying his father, Trevanion, and Perri, on a hunt for Gargarin, who they believe to be behind the attack and slaughter of Isaboe's family, during which they run into Froi, whom they haven't seen in 9 months; Lucian finding out that Phaedra is alive, struggling with his new feelings of love for her, and the two of them learning to trust each other; Isaboe and Quintana's unborn children talking to each other, to their mothers, and helping to explain what happened during the day of weeping 13 years earlier when all the women of Charyn lost the babies they were carrying and Lumatere became cursed, thus causing the last borns to be marked; and how to best avoid war and broker peace between all the kingdoms.

I am pleased to announce that despite all the political intrigue, battles fought, and messages gone astray, there is a happy ending in there for everyone who deserves it, with compassion, forgiveness, and love occurring in the most unexpected, but well-deserved, circumstances.

Definitely one of my favorite books of the year, the only downside is what on earth do I read next?

To read my review of book 1 of the Lumatere Chronicles, Finnikin of the Rock, click here. Though I never reviewed it, I did a Waiting on Wednesday post for book 2, Froi of the Exiles, here.


  1. I hadn't heard of this series, but this review makes me want to go out and grab the first one and see if it works for me. I am a great lover of realism in the works of fiction that I read, so I will be looking into these books. I am so glad that you enjoyed this one so much!! Great review today!

    1. Thanks so much! Realized I didn't post the links to my review for book 1 and my mention of book 2, so just updated with those. Obviously I recommend running out to get them. :) Let me know how you like them, if you do try them out!

  2. Love your blog!

    I nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award, more information on: http://sobookalicious.blogspot.be/2013/01/liebster-blog-award.html


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