It goes without saying (although I shall, say it anyway) that this review will contain spoilers-a-plenty for the first two books in the Lumatere Chronicles series. So before you read any further, go to the library, Fishpond site, or wherever, and absorb the Lumatere story up until this point. And the you can come back and read this review. You promise you will come back and read this review? Good, that's settled then...Or you could just go ahead and read this review...
So, the final instalment in the Lumatere Chronicles, and my review is just a touch speedier to appear than my one of Froi of the Exiles. If you're read that review, you may have gathered that I had a few issues with the second book of this series. Not in terms of the quality of writing, but mainly due to the fact that I didn't engage with one of the main characters (see review for more details). Now, I'm fully aware that I'm in the definite minority on this one, but it didn't stop me from wanting more from this vast set of characters and locations so I'm was itching to get my mitts on the last in this intriguing series.
Whereas I felt Finnikin of the Rock was a rollickingly-addictive page turner and would work as a stand alone novel, the latter two books are so deeply entwined that sometimes it becomes a bit tricky to separate them in my head. Or maybe that's because I read them so close together whereas there was a criminally large gap between my reading of Finnikin and Froi. I had hopes for some full-on Quintana bonding with this one, but my detachment from her continued right through to the end. BUT, in some ways this was a good thing. Let me explain...
Far from having large sections from Quintana's point of view, with are fed tiny little nuggets showing the way her mind works, but for the most part, Quintana is seen through the eyes of others, most interestingly Pheadra, the wife of Lucien the Mont, caught between hiding out and protecting her queen from certain death and her burning desire for her estranged husband. The Pheadra and Lucien story was my favourite part of Froi and the character of Phaedra is developed here. I adore Pheadra. I personally found her the easiest character to engage with. Or maybe that's just because I could so easily picture myself being married to Lucien.....ANYWAY, the friendship between Phaedra and Quintana was my favourite element of THIS book. In some ways, Pheadra provided a sort of world view - as her initial opinion of Quintana transforms from a degree of derision to acceptance to respect and friendship, I grew to understand Quintana more through her eyes, just as Pheadra did.
Let's just talked about Lucien for a bit...LUCIEN. I think my feelings can be summed up in this set of tweets I exchanged with Jo and Rey -
Me: Just got to the bit in Quintana I have been waiting for. About bloody time :)
Jo: Lucian taking off his fleece/pants?
Jo: "May I be reminded of how the gods made you?" *LOSES SHIZZ* I know Rey likes that bit too.
Rey: *FANS SELF*
Me: *jumps in cold shower*
Jo: *grabs a fleece-clad Mont* WHAT? Fine, we can share.
Rey: *cue caterwauling* *lascivious grin*
Jo: I love the word caterwauling. As much as I love his bum. ANNA YOU HAVE TO FINISH SO WE CAN SHOUT AT EACH IN JOY!
Yeah, you get the idea. Now, what were we talking about again...?
Oh, yes important literary type discussion that DOES NOT involve fleece and pants. The removal of. More's the pity...
This being the conclusion and all, the story strands gradually come together in an genius, mind-blowing, jaw-dropping fashion, especially one particular scene involving Isaboe (who I had become to get a bit hacked off with since the end of Finnikin, I have to admit) where she does something so astonishing and heart-wrenching that I might have stopped breathing for just a little while.
I still remained a bit detached from this book. I think my opportunity to get hooked by the heart strings came and went with my reading of the Froi. But, much like the previous novel, this is writing of the highest order and it is a complex and intelligent tale that will get your brain juices flowing. With added fleece and sexy Mont. (insert smutty comment about other juices flowing here) (Whoops. I already did).