10th October, 2012: Two different faces but the same essence

Marchetta’s world-building is complex and the depth of her characterisation admirable.  The series may be  epic fantasy but is so suffused with the experiences of the refugee, of exile and the search or home, that it speaks immediately and powerfully to our world.

Cameron Woodhead, The Sydney Morning Herald


....Quintana in particular is about rebirth: what do you do when you break a curse? What do you do when you’re a refugee and find yourself still in transit even after you’ve stopped moving? Prejudices are examined, and sometimes they’re kept. Melina Marchetta lets her characters make mistakes. And she also lets them exclaim about it. All speeches are grand. All arguments—whether about the fate of a refugee camp or whether you should still be nursing your three year old daughter, are MASSIVE. There are slammed doors and wringing hands and disputations made over balconies. No one in these novels has any sense of perspective, and…somehow, that is all okay. I’m, not sure what magic Marchetta wrought to turn off my cyncism about halfway through Exiles and all the way through Quintana….



Six narratives may seem like a bit much, but Marchetta pulls it off with her usual finesse, giving each of them a powerful voice that is distinctly their own. We’re shown that even our most beloved characters have flaws and stubborn prejudices that they refuse to realize. One of the most beautiful things about this series is that characters are not boringly static, but constantly growing. For instance, queens are not merely kindhearted souls, they are filled with a need for revenge and retaliation for the wrongs committed against their family. When the characters’ stories fuse together (and then apart), it’s a beautiful thing to see. By the end of the book, the journeys that all of the characters have undertaken are simply incredible, and they come out stronger and even more beloved to us than they were before.

‘This has not been an easy trilogy, far from it – Marchetta wrote of a royal murder, heartbreaking curse, separated families, displacement and sad destinies. But this has also been a series with one of the most beautiful father/son relationships explored, between Trevanion and Finnikin. It has been a series based around strong women who were once broken, but never defeated. Marchetta wrote a foul street urchin in one book, and then built him up to admired assassin and kingdom saviour in another. She wrote of families being torn apart, only to make their finding one another that much sweeter. For three books now she has written a fine balance between darkness and light, hope and despair. Yes, you had to go there to get to this point, to this book . . . this book which takes us full-circle, to bring us home again. It’s not the destination; it’s the journey – and what a wonderful journey it has been.

One thought on “10th October, 2012: Two different faces but the same essence

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