‘You were never able to break her. She is the stone of this kingdom.’Immediately after finishing:… … … … *blink* … … … … *blink* Ummmm… *blink* … … … … I’m sleeping with this book tonight.What reverberated around in my cranium a few days ago: Quintana Quintana Quintana Froi Froi Froi Quintana Quintana Quintana Froi Froi Froi Quintana Quintana Quintana Froi Froi Froi Quintana Quintana Quintana Froi Froi Froi Quintana Quintana Quintana Froi Froi Froi Quintana Quintana Quintana Froi Froi Froi Quintana Quintana Quintana Froi Froi Froi Quintana Quintana Quintana Froi Froi Froi Quintana Quintana Quintana Froi Froi Froi Quintana Quintana Quintana Froi Froi Froi GARGARIN GARGARIN GARGARIN LIRAH LIRAH LIRAH ARJURO ARJURO ARJURO Quintana Quintana Quintana Froi Froi Froi Quintana Quintana Quintana Froi Froi Froi Quintana Quintana Quintana Froi Froi Froi Quintana Quintana Quintana Froi Froi Froi Quintana Quintana Quintana Froi Froi Froi Quintana Quintana Quintana Froi Froi Froi Finnikin Finnikin Finnikin Isaboe Isaboe Isaboe Phaedra Phaedra Phaedra Quintana Quintana Quintana Froi Froi Froi Quintana Quintana Quintana Froi Froi Froi Quintana Quintana Quintana Froi Froi Froi Quintana Quintana Quintana Froi Froi Froi GARGARIN GARGARIN GARGARIN LIRAH LIRAH LIRAH ARJURO ARJURO ARJURO Quintana Quintana Quintana Froi Froi Froi Quintana Quintana Quintana Froi Froi FroiAs can be seen, these characters are a lifeline.Two days later:Having read Froi of the Exiles and Quintana of Charyn back-to-back, I could not have experienced and read these wonders any other way. I was glad I waited out the year since I got Froi – everyone’s desperation for Quintana became common knowledge considering its ending, so I turned to logic and logic won out. Froi of the Exiles was amazing; but Quintana of Charyn was perfect, unforgettable… beautiful.We entered Melina Marchetta’s Skuldenore and the world of the ‘Lumatere Chronicles’ through Finnikin of the Rock. It was breathtakingly real and raw, albeit fantasy. We were first introduced to characters such as Finnikin and Isaboe, and developed a strong love for them. We met Froi, too, among others. Finnikin was an introduction – this book established the world and gave us insight into the rift between Lumatere and Charyn, presenting us with a dark, hopeless and war-torn continent, its people ambivalent as to what the future may hold. Finnikin was the beginning of a spellbinding journey, which then continued in Froi of the Exiles. Melina Marchetta took us further into the darkness of this world; more notably into Froi’s unknown past, the key to understanding the hope for the future. Froi hooked himself into our hearts, and slowly with understanding, Quintana did too. I was invested more in the story in Froi than I was Finnikin, most probably since I was familiar with the characters and I was desperate to learn more about them and soak up any bit of detail there was to them.Then finally we came to Quintana of Charyn. After following the developments of the characters and knowing them as much as I know myself, I did not want to leave them; I did not want to forget them; and I did not want to stop reading about them. Quintana contained a number of memorable moments where each character found their home, found safety and comfort, and most importantly, found hope. All that because they found each other.Ending books on cliffhangers are tricky as it is uncertain as to how they would be received. However, how the ending of Froi played out was necessary in transitioning us to the final chapter of this story. With haste, Melina Marchetta pulls the reader back into the struggles of Quintana and Froi. Froi was being nursed by Arjuro after the fatal injuries he received a few weeks earlier and constantly on his mind was the safety of Quintana – a safety which he could not give her considering his circumstances. Once mended, along with his parents Gargarin and Lirah he goes in search for Quintana, who has appeared in the valley between Lumatere and Charyn, in search of someone that could give her the safety that Froi is not able to provide her with. And with her carrying their baby, every second is crucial to their survival and their ambivalent future.Simultaneously, Isaboe and Finnikin contemplate whether Froi has done his job that he was sent to do, as no one has heard or seen him since he left Lumatere to assassinate Quintana. Isaboe and Finnikin are also expecting, and Finnikin ponders whether he is good enough to be the father of a Lumateran King as well as the husband of Isaboe – not a King; just her consort. This is addressed when Finnikin and Froi come together after a few hiccups in their honesty and friendship concerning the role that Isaboe plays in each of their lives.‘I have an equally strong bond with you, my friend,’ Froi said. ‘It’s not that I desire one of you over the other. It’s that I want what you have together. I know that despite everything . . . it must eat at your heart that you’re her consort and not her king . . .’ Finnikin shook his head again. ‘It’s not about having power over her,’ Finnikin explained. ‘If I was the King, I could take care of her. I could keep her free from the troubles of Lumatere, which seems endless. And so trite. Honestly, Froi, ours are such ungrateful people at times. Despite our hard work, all we hear are complaints and woe and who suffered most and whose soil deserves more. Why can’t they just be happy with what we’ve got? We have our kingdom back, but no one seems truly happy, and I’m frightened that it’s now in our blood. That we’ll pass on that dissatisfaction to our children and our children’s children and that we’ll be the ancients one day and our descendants will say, “Ah yes, a melancholy dour lot.”’Before I move further into my review for Quintana of Charyn I just want to share a quote in the book that I adore, as it encompasses what the meaning of life is all about. We can’t all be kings and queens and witness our dreams come true, but if we make do with what we have and live life to the best that we can then it will be a good life and that’s all you really need. I find after reading Quintana that what Isaboe says is relevant to twists later on, if not foreshadows those events.‘…In the games of queens and kings,’ she said to Froi, ‘we leave our dreams at the door and we make do with what we have. Sometimes if we’re fortunate, we still manage to have a good life.’Then to enhance what Isaboe says to Froi, Lirah says this which is equally as inspirational:‘You said to me once that you weren’t what I dreamed of. You were right. You surpass everything I dreamed of. Even the rot in you that’s caused you to do shameful things. Some men let the rot and guilt fester into something ugly beyond words. Few men can turn it into worth and substance. If you’re gods’ blessed for no other reason, it’s for that.’You get to the end of some trilogies and series and you feel as though there could be another book or that there is more to the story that the author has not shared. The Lumatere Chronicles is not one of those. I feel as though Melina Marchetta has poured every ounce of her experience and storytelling abilities into this story, especially in this third and final book, to the point that fatigue consumes you. All the characters ended in positions that they were happy to be in, and if they are content as is the author, then I am too. Skuldenore, although still with subtle rivalries and problems, has returned to the peaceful state that it once was, because of the actions of our heroes and our heroines, the major and minor. What I need to do is to reread all three books again, and I am sure I will learn a helluva lot more than I did the first time.These characters will never be forgotten. The Lumatere Chronicles is so well received because of the characters; they’re flawed human beings with dark pasts and uncertain futures, living their present with caution and a desire to see better days in the world that they live in. Because of how much I adored Froi and Quintana after Froi of the Exiles, I had trouble finding that same devotion for Isaboe and Finnikin at the beginning of Quintana of Charyn. But as the novel progressed and Isaboe and Finnikin understood Froi’s situation and the role Quintana has to it, that was when I admired this quartet – they complemented each other. They are different in every way, bringing about an influx of dynamics that would not have occurred if these characters were any other way. Gargarin, Lirah, Arjuro, Phaedra, Tesadora and a few others make this story ever so richer with their own stories to tell. I will miss them all, each and every single one of them.Quintana of Charyn is now a favourite, and once the rest of the world has their opportunity to indulge in the beauty of this book there’s going to be a fanfare with the words ‘Queen’ and ‘Melina’ sung throughout.