I know that this book has taken me ages to read, and the fact that it is 600 pages has nothing to do with it, I just found it's very hard to get addicted to. You know when you're reading a book and the part you're reading is so exciting that you have to keep reading? That didn't happen at all in this book, the whole thing is kind of like a slow burn, it's interesting, just not enough to make me want to read more than a chapter a night.
I enjoyed the first book in this series Finnikin of the Rock more than I enjoyed this one. I found this one was too long and had too many stories going on for me to understand. It's really hard to remember who all the characters are, which provinces are good or bad, and work out who's perspective you're reading from all the time. My favourite character was probably Phaedra, she was the only character who was consistently both likeable and strong-willed for the entire novel. Although I like Melina Marchetta, I think she is better at writing teenage dramas like On the Jellicoe Road and Looking for Alibrandi.
This book focuses on Froi, the thief that Isaboe and Finnikin met in the last novel. It's been about three years since Lumatere's curse was lifted and Froi is now a trained and trusted member of the Queen's Guard and is sent into Charyn to kill the king with information from a Charyinite that Charyn is also cursed and no-one has had a child for eighteen years. While there he falls in love with the lastborn princess, Quintana, who is destined to bear the first child of Charyn with another lastborn male. We discover that Quintana was really the oracle's child, not Lirah of Serker's (the king's whore), however the king is still her father. The oracle was thrown into a gravina on the day she gave birth to Quintana along with who everyone thought was her child. Lirah also gave birth that day, to a boy, who she thought was thrown of the balcony with the oracle because the children had been switched. It turns out that Lirah's son was Froi and Quintana's stillborn twin was thrown off the balcony into the gravina with the oracle. This means that when Froi and Quintana had sex, Quintana fell pregnant. Froi tries to protect her, however they are followed many times, and then when he finally takes her somewhere he knows she will be safe, Turla, they are betrayed, and Froi is captured after telling Quintana to run for her life and to protect their son. Beatrice and Trevanion get married, and Lucian falls in love with his Charynite wife, Phaedra, who he had previously rejected. Phaedra however, seems to die in a plague with five other Charynite women and Lucian is devastated. In the epilogue we learn that Phaedra and the women are actually alive and faking their deaths was part of an unknown plan. Froi awakes to his uncle, Arjuro, who is going to heal him then help him find Quintana.
^I told you it was complicated. And I left out all the confusing stuff.