Quintana of Charyn

Book review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
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Engrossing end to fabulous epic trilogy for mature readers.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Teen readers will learn about epic world building, how an author creates language and religion and culture to differentiate between people, and how a book with multiple points of view can affect a reader's perspective about a character or plot point.

Positive Messages

All of Melina Marchetta's books are about the desire to belong and extremely flawed but loving families. This is a story of redemption, sacrifice, selflessness, and the willingness to see beyond superficial differences to what connects people to each other. No one is exactly as he or she seems, and the most surprising rises to the occasion.

Positive Role Models & Representations

All of the characters are believably flawed. No one is perfect: Characters struggle with hubris, stubborness, inability to forgive, prejudice, horrible self esteem, and many other issues. But all of the main characters -- particularly the couples Isaboe and Finnikin, Froi and Quintana, Phaedra and Lucian, Beatriss and Trevanion -- find how unconditional love and loyalty and family ties are the most important aspects of ruling and belonging to a people. The women, for the most part, are more powerful than the men, but the members of each couple complement each other.


Not only is there a body count, but there's also much sadness in this book (although not as much as in the previous two). In one of the most anguished scenes, a character's baby is stillborn. Friends take up arms against each other over a misunderstanding. A young woman kills a man who's going to kill her queen.


Like in Froi of the Exiles, there are at least five sex scenes between committed, consenting adults and several more of passionate kisses, embraces, foreplay, and propositions. People discuss desire and passion on a regular basis, and one character is ridiculed for not having satisfied his wife (he later makes up for this so fervently that a passerby jokes neighboring cities could hear their lovemaking). A married couple engages in role playng in bed, a gay couple remembers their ardor as young men, and several estranged lovers reunite.


The most common swear word, "sagra," is in a fictional language. But there are other more familiar words used, like "bitch," "ass," and "s--t." A lot of insults are traded between people of neighboring kingdoms.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink and there are references to drunkenness.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Quintana of Charyn, author Melina Marchetta's third and final installment in The Lumatere Chronicles, features as many intense issues as the previous two books, Finnikin of the Rock and Froi of the Exiles. This trilogy doesn't shy away from mature depictions of romantic relationships, sexuality (there are at least five fairly descriptive love scenes), and the violence that goes along with defending a kingdom from its enemies. There is much sorrow in the story -- several characters are killed or injured and a baby is stillborn -- but also positive outcomes that prove family, faith, and friendship matter most in the world. Occasional use of strong language ("bitch," "ass," and "s--t") and insults.

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What's the story?

The epic conclusion to Melina Marchetta's Lumatere Chronicles trilogy ties up all the various loose threads from the two previous books. QUINTANA OF CHARYN follows how through Queen Isaboe, the titular Quintana, Finnikin, and Froi, the once enemy nations of Lumatere and Charyn, slowly make steps toward peace. Quintana is pregnant with Froi's baby and the heir to the Charynite throne, but she's secretly hiding in a cave in the valley below Lumatere with Phaedra of Alonso, whose husband is Lucian of the Monts, whose cousin is Queen Isaboe, who's also pregnant. Froi tries to save Charyn and Lumatere alike, feeling torn by twin loyalties, while Isaboe and Finnkin try to figure out how to come to terms with Froi being a Charynite when they consider him a Lumateran. The road to peace is filled with sorrow, miscommunication, and deep-seated hostility that must be overcome by the ties of friendship, diplomacy, and love.

Is it any good?

There's no room for mediocrity when it comes to epic fantasies, and Marchetta has outdone herself with this intricately woven tale. It deftly manages a cast of hundreds, each member with his or her own allegiances and dilemmas. But it's the beloved core we first met in Finnikin and Froi that shines in this final installment. All of these characters can be infuriating and selfish and stubborn, but somehow you root for the half-mad Quintana and the passionate Isaboe to stop hating each other enough to see that they're so ridiculously alike they could be sisters -- each with their matching ideal mates in Finnikin and Froi. Their unborn sons -- one doomed and one blessed -- even share a connection in the womb.

In addition to the central quartet of the Lumaterans Finnikin and Isaboe and the Charynites Froi and Quintana, the most heartbreaking love story belongs to Lucian and Phaedra, a Lumateran and a Charynite who love each other desperately even as they're both pulled in by duties to their own kingdoms. It's these three relationships, along with their too-large-to-name families, that make this such a beautifully crafted tale. You'll cry as a mother weeps at the loss of her baby, only to nurse another baby she feels compelled to protect. You'll laugh as Finnikin and Froi fight, debate, and love each other like brothers. And when you finish the last satisfying sentence, you'll want to go right back to Finnikin of the Rock and start the breathtaking journey to Lumatere once again, because it's a place of heartbreak and joy, like Middle-earth and Narnia and the wizarding world.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how books with multiple points of view affect readers differently than books with one perspective. How did reading various characters' perspectives make them more sympathetic?

  • There are several major love stories in this trilogy, and each couple has to overcome something to be together. Which relationships speak to you the most? Why do you think the author makes all of the husbands and wives overcome so many obstacles?

  • In her dedication, Melina Marchetta thanks her family for making it "easy to write about strong, passionate, high-maintenance families with big hearts." How does that apply to the various families in Quintana?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and romance

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