Quintana of Charyn was not what I expected. It's predecessor Froi is a dark descent into madness, chaos and war. From Quintana I expected something even darker. Yet, overall I found Quintana to be a very hopeful book. That's not to say it's a happy, sunshiny novel. It's not. But Quintana is overall a story of hope and healing.
In Quintana of Charyn, the whole land of Skuldenore is poised to implode. A chaotic civil war is brewing in Charyn, every side wanting Quintana's baby for their own political purposes. In Lumatere, Isaboe still wants to punish every Charynite for her family's death. The other countries are watching Charyn like vultures, ready to sweep in and take power the moment there's an opportunity.
Yet with all that happening, like every Marchetta book, what I remember is the characters
There is Isaboe, strong and powerful Isaboe. Isaboe who still cries about her family and has locked away whole sections of the castle where they died.
"But Isaboe could not think of being one with their enemies. Not with the memory of what had been done to her family. Finnikan's father was close at hand. Hers was dead and she had prayed these past years for the grace of forgiveness, but the Goddess refuse to send it."We see how a Queen's rage can impact the future of her county. In this book we see Isaboe at her best and at her worse. More importantly Isaboe sees and faces herself.
Then there is Phaedra. Underestinated, quiet, "worthless", kind-hearted Phaedra. Phaedra, who I loved in the background of the last novel. In this novel Phaedra's quiet beauty and value is finally realized. We see her strength thrust into the forefront.
Key to this story is Phaedra's kindness. Phaedra and a group of poor starving Charynite women shelter and protect the very prickly and unloveable Quintana. This is a story where they realize that even though Quintana seems quite mad, she's also smart and made huge sacrifices for her people.
This book is brilliant. It's the type of novel that sticks with you afterwards. Few books show how the lives of people and countries intertwine and overlap until they are almost indistinguishable Isaboe's personal journey is Lumatere's personal journey. Quintana's fight for survival is a battle for her country.
Very few trilogies are as complete and wonderful as this series. Every book is strong and every character developed This series in complex, with layers and depth and meaning. Quintana of Charyn tore my heart out, but in a good way. I would simultaneously be hurting and crying for joy. Very few books touch me on that guttural level. The Lumatere Chronicles are a series that every book lover needs to read and re-read.