Quintana of Charyn

(Lumatere Chronicles #3)

by Melina Marchetta

Melina Marchetta is one of Australia’s most celebrated authors of young adult fiction. Her novels have been published in eighteen countries and in seventeen languages. Melina’s first novel, Looking for Alibrandi, swept the pool of literary awards for young adult fiction when it was published, winning the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year Award for Older Readers among many others. It was also released as an award-winning film, winning an AFI Award and an Independent Film Award for best screenplay, as well as the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award and the Film Critics Circle of Australia Award.

Melina taught secondary-school English for ten years, during which time she released her second novel Saving Francesca, which won the CBCA Book of the Year Award for Older Readers, followed by On the Jellicoe Road, which won the American Library Association’s Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature in 2009. Melina’s next novel, Finnikin of the Rock, won the Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Novel, and was followed by The Piper’s Son, the critically acclaimed companion novel to Saving Francesca. Melina has also written a book for younger readers, The Gorgon in the Gully, which was released in 2010. The second book in the Lumatere Chronicles, Froi of the Exiles, was published in 2011 to much international praise. Melina has completed her second screenplay, On the Jellicoe Road, which was chosen to be part of Screen New South Wales Aurora Script Workshop, and she has also written episodes for ABC-TV’s Dance Academy.

Her website is melinamarchetta.com.au.


Looking for Alibrandi

Saving Francesca

On the Jellicoe Road

The Piper’s Son


Finnikin of the Rock

Froi of the Exiles



The Gorgon in the Gully

For Mum, Dad, Marisa, Daniela, Luca, Daniel, Brendan and Andy,

who make it so easy to write about strong, passionate,

high-maintenance families with big hearts.


There’s a babe in my belly that whispers the valley, Froi. I follow the whispers and come to the road. And I travel for days on the back of a cart with the lice and the filth, and the swill of the swine.

But once in the valley, those pigs of the city sit high on their horses, not with a noose, but with swords at their sides. And still so forsaken, I rage at the gods, and I turn from the faces of those who take charge.

I keep to myself, but I find they are watching. I clench both my fists, I’ll kill in a beat. Your words pound my brain, Froi, if they dare try to touch me, a knife to the side and a slit ear to ear.

Those in my cave, they grab and they drag me. They want me to bathe, but they’ll soon know the truth. And the fear on their faces speaks loud of their awe, and I capture the crying and tell them what’s true; that the men with the swords, who once held the noose, will cut out my king and leave me to die.

The girl with the smile, the one you once spoke of, she enters the cave and can see what is true. And she thinks with her heart, and shouts out, ‘It’s plague!’ and calls for a man who has seen plague before. I beg her, I beg her, but the man named Matteo is the lad with the cats from when I was a child. ‘Your Highness,’ he whispers, his eyes full of wonder. ‘Did you mate with the lastborn I sent to save Charyn?’

And the women, they stare with fear in their hope, but it’s hope drenched with tears, and it smothers me whole. And the Mont’s wife, she covers my belly and speaks, ‘We’ll be dead to all Charyn, from plague in the north.’ There’s keening and wailing from those left behind: the men of the valley who lose all they have.

And here where we’re hidden, I sleep in a corner. My dreams are consumed by She who has stealth. I feel her, I fight her, I grit through my teeth, ‘Keep far from my king or I’ll tear you to pieces.’

I call out your name to help fight this demon. I call out your name. ‘Froi! Save Charyn’s son.’

And day after day it is dull in my heart, for there’s nothing to say when you’re dead to the world. And the Mont’s wife, she looks to the valley and mountains with pain and regret, but such hope and fierce love.

‘Is it rain?’ someone asks, and I wait for the answer. Though winter still shrouds this land, I’ve prayed for the sun.

Part One


Chapter 1


In the dark of their chamber, Isaboe awoke. She heard Finnikin stir beside her and she climbed out of their bed, pulling back the curtain that partitioned their sleeping quarters from the rest of their private residence. Despite the thickness of the rug, her feet felt icy as she tiptoed to the hearth. Her hands shook as she lit a taper with the embers of last night’s fire, trying to understand the savage strangeness of her dream. But when she returned to their bed she saw, through the flicker of the flame, what the darkness had hidden. Finnikin lay awake, staring at her with fury. And it made her shiver even more.

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