Lisa and Maja are the blogging duo behind The Nocturnal Library. Lisa is based in Italy while Maja is in Croatia (and I’m in the Philippines) – further proof that Melina Marchetta’s books are being read and loved all over the world. They’re here to talk about the books in the Lumatere Chronicles: Finnikin of the Rock and Froi of the Exiles, Melina Marchetta’s fantasy novels. Yay, Lisa and Maja!
Lisa: When I think Melina Marchetta I think contemporary fiction. The first book I read was Jellicoe Road and I loved it. I then read Saving Francesca and I loved it. I read Looking for Alibrandi and I loved it. I read The Piper’s Son and I plead temporary insanity for not being crazy about it ( a re-read is in order soon)
I was more than a little worried when I realized Finnikn was fantasy. How many authors can nonchalantly be good in both genres? Help me out here ‘cause my answer is none.
I shouldn’t have worried: Marchetta actually writes fantasy in a way not many others can do. Her added value is that, beside a great fantasy plot, her characterization is just masterful, of course.
Maja: First of all, we’re both incredibly honored that the lovely Chachic thought of us when she started planning the Marchetta Madness. Contemporary YA is never my first choice, although there are a few exceptions. I always enjoyed escaping into impossible worlds more than I enjoyed reading about this one. That’s why Lumatere Chronicles will always be the first books I’ll pick up when I need to be reminded of the magic Marchetta creates with words. (Josie Alibrandi would be my second choice, but not before I reread both Finnikin and Froi). To make the long story short, thank you, Chachic, for having us, and thank you, Melina Marchetta, for giving us amazing books to talk about.
Lisa: Can I plead the fifth?
This question is unfair. I like both Finnikin and Froi in different ways. I thought the general message was deeper in Finnikin but Froi is on a whole different level plot-wise.
Maja: I agree that it’s a difficult question to answer, almost impossible, but at the end of the day, I think I prefer Froi of the Exiles. As much as I liked Finnikin of the Rock (in fact, I think it was the first high fantasy novel I ever really loved), in many ways, Froi of the Exiles seemed more mature to me. I think that’s why many people think that it isn’t exactly YA. There is more of everything in Froi: more love, more disaster, more suffering, more characters to care deeply about.
Lisa: Oddly enough, the most intense scene for me was in Finnikin though; I won’t easily forget those mass graves anytime soon.
Maja: For me, the most powerful scenes are always more personal. Without spoiling too much, the scene that really stayed with me happened between Froi and Quintana in a cave. I remember shaking like a leaf and rereading it two times just to make sure I didn’t miss anything.
You get so poetical
Lol, you’re mean.
Well, I can just picture you shaking like a leaf in the wind I am most certainly not mean.
Wait! I got another scene that impressed me (this is spoilerish). When Arjuro’s eyes bleed because he sees the golden writings.
Best male character:
Lisa: Again, I feel like we’re comparing David and Goliath here, for some reason. My best male character is certainly Froi, hands down; his character development is amazing when compared to say, Finnikin’s, starting from when we meet him in the first book as a streetrat to his predominant role in, duh, Froi of the Exiles.
Maja: You know I simply adore Froi. He is tough on the surface, but his vulnerability is so obvious that it makes me very protective of him. He is a character that aims for your maternal instincts. But I still think I like Finnikin just a little bit more, simply because it’s impossible not to love him.
I guess I like Froi more than you because my instincts toward him are so NOT maternal.
Really? Huh. I never really saw him that way. Finnikin yes, but not him. Maybe because he’s so damaged.
Best female character:
Maja: Lirah (character in Froi of the Exiles) because she’s a survivor at all costs. After everything that life threw at her, she is still beautiful and fierce. I also love her dry sense of humor that shines through when you least expect it. I know you expected me to pick either Evanjalin or Quintana, and to be honest, I did too, but when I really thought about it, I was absolutely sure it’s Lirah.
I’ll be definitely more banal than you Maja and say Quintana. I like my characters to be complex, unpredictable and of different shades of grey (this is the moment when you wonder why, exactly, do I read all that vanilla romance… good question. The answer is: I also like when my brain turns to mush, ok?) So Quintana is an amazing character throughout all the second book. I expect a lot from her and can’t wait to see what happens in “her” book.
Most annoying character:
Lisa: In the first book, Froi. Yes, really. I kept wondering what his purpose in the economy of the book was supposed to be. I didn’t even know there was a Froi of the Exiles in the works. I loathed him for his behavior and found him downright slimy. What a transformation in the second book.
In Froi, the most annoying character for me was Gargarin. I hated Bestiano, but Gargarin was just like a fly buzzing around me on a hot day (see? I can be poetical too :D)
Maja: Haha, yes, you’re just like Neruda on one of his most productive days. To be honest, I don’t have a most annoying character. Bestiano scared the bejeebers out of me, and I kind of liked grumpy Gargarin.
There were characters I despised and characters I adored, but I felt they were all essential.
Grazie, Lisa! Hvala, Maja! I guess it’s pretty obvious from this post that Melina Marchetta excels in writing both in the contemporary and fantasy genres. We can’t say the same thing for other authors.