Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Definitely one of the best books of the year. I can't imagine it not being a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, Locus and other SFF awards. While it is the middle book of a trilogy I can promise you that it stands on its own as I did not read Finnikin of the Rock, a situation that must be remedied as I wait impatiently for the next book.
Froi, fiercely loyal and fiercely independent accepts the task of going to the neighboring kingdom that had perpetrated horrific acts upon the people of his adopted country Lumatere during their recent war. In Charyn he is to take the place of one of the last "last-born" so he can gain access to the palace and assassinate the king before Quintana, the mad last-born princess, comes of age. Charyn was cursed nineteen years earlier with sterility and later a prophecy written in Quintana's blood decreed that "the last will make the first" understood as the last children born before the curse took effect will have to conceive in order to break the curse. This has led to Quintana being fruitlessly mated each year since her thirteenth birthday, the day called by the Charynites, the day of weeping.
This sweeping epic combines politics -- national, sexual, and interpersonal, with amazing complex characters.
Don't miss it.
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