Review posted May 22, 2013.
Candlewick Press, 2013. First published in Australia in 2012. 516 pages.
Quintana of Charyn is not merely a sequel to Froi of the Exiles, it's the second half of the story begun in the earlier book. Both books are a sequel to Finnikin of the Rock. As such, you definitely should read these books in order, and I wish I had taken the time to reread the earlier books, as it would have been easier to keep straight the many characters and situations. I wasn't wanting to take on that much time -- but some day in the future I know I will want to reread all three books in order, and I'll be in for a treat.
With both Froi of the Exiles and Quintana of Charyn, I was struck by how Melina Marchetta dares to introduce her main characters, particularly Quintana, as not very likeable. But they definitely grow on you. These books are intricate and complex. You have characters who do awful things who later do good things, with all the complexities of real life.
Since this book is the second half of an epic tale, I won't talk much about the plot. If you've read Froi of the Exiles, you will want to find out what happens. Why is this book so grand?
-- The epic scope. This is a fantasy series that creates a world with incredible complexity. There are many nations, and they have their own concerns, their own curses. We're still dealing with Lumatere after the breaking of their curse, and the repercussions in their dealings with Charyn, which has its own curse to break.
-- Dealing with racism, and cross-cultural relations. How can Lumaterans ever relate to Charynites? This book shows both parties overcoming their prejudices.
-- Individual characters in all their complexity. Characters in these books are never flat. We see complicated and conflicting motivations. We find out about histories that affect them and new choices they have to make.
-- Choosing the side of wonder. In the middle of bleak circumstances, some characters, and naturally cynical ones at that, choose to look at things on the side of wonder. I love this!
And there's so much more. As I said, some time in the future, I'm definitely planning to treat myself to rereading all three books. I know I will discover even more riches -- there's too much to fully grasp in one reading. This is a magnificent tale with amazing complexity.