Book Review: Finnikin of the Rock

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Series: Lumatere Chronicles #1
Published by Candlewick Press on February 9th 2010
Pages: 399
Goodreads

At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh to save his kingdom. He stands on the rock of the three wonders with his friend Prince Balthazar and Balthazar's cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood to safeguard Lumatere.

But all safety is shattered during the five days of the unspeakable, when the king and queen and their children are brutally murdered in the palace. An impostor seizes the throne, a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere's walls, and those who escape are left to roam the land as exiles, dying by the thousands in fever camps.

Ten years later, Finnikin is summoned to another rock--to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, heir to the throne of Lumatere, is alive. This arrogant young woman claims she'll lead Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, to the prince. Instead, her leadership points them perilously toward home. Does Finnikin dare believe that Lumatere might one day rise united? Evanjalin is not what she seems, and the startling truth will test Finnikin's faith not only in her but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.

In a bold departure from her acclaimed contemporary novels, Printz Medalist Melina Marchetta has crafted an epic fantasy of ancient magic, feudal intrigue, romance, and bloodshed that will rivet you from the first page.

thought

Finnikin of the Rock is a book I should have read a while ago. I love Marchetta’s writing and I love fantasy, so why didn’t I? No idea, but I am glad I did this summer. Although it took a bit to get into the novel, I soon found myself captivated by the world. Finnikin as a character did not impress me, he was a bit pompous and I’m not sure I was found of the way he treated Evanjalin from the beginning. She really is the one that makes quite an impression on first meeting her. She starts off as a mute, who has had a vision of the heir to Lumatere and transforms as a character by the end of the book into something new. Evanjalin is brave and keeping a secret along with years of struggle leading up to her meeting Finnikin.

Finnikin is the son of the Captain of the Guard of Lumatere, a small country that was taken and surrounded by a curse, unaccessible to all outside after the curse took over. Finnikin’s father was captured years ago and is held in somewhere secure. Finnikin has been struck with the idea that his childhood friend and heir to the throne is still alive, which sets him on a course to break the curse that has taken over his home for 10 years. With the help of his mentor, Sir Topher and the unpredictable Evanjalin he will find himself closer to making that dream come true. There are struggles ahead and he is definitely tested time and time again.

I enjoyed the flashbacks to what occurred in the past and the story that unfolded there. I mostly enjoyed Evanjalin who kept Finnikin on his toes. I have to admit I didn’t really like Finnikin much during this story at all. Also, why the heck did they save the thief who tried to rape Evanjalin? I believe the next book is from his point of view. Froi is quite a pain and I honestly don’t know what Evanjalin was thinking… although I will give Froi props for changing throughout the book.

I have to say, after having just read Seraphina, I cannot say I love this book. There was possibly too much adult feel to it maybe… the characters were somewhat cold and unlikeable. The only one that gave me a fuzzy feeling was Sir Topher, who seemed to care more than anyone else about anyone in this book. There was so much coldness and darkness in this book. Usually I revel in this, but I just … I don’t know, things felt a bit off. And the relationship that grew between Finnikin and Evanjalin didn’t seem right. I felt like she pegged him for her future King and forced herself into liking him, because he honestly did not do much to make himself all that romantic towards her. In fact, in the end he just kept avoiding her like the plague.

There was a lot of rape and blood and torture and more blood. I wanted to love this book and towards the end, I remember being enraptured in what would happen next… Especially as we met more interesting characters like the Monts, who really were colorful and possibly my favorite part of the book. I will definitely read the next one, I love the writing enough and though the characters weren’t as appealing as I was hoping for and the world a bit gritty, I want to know more about this world.

Verdict:

A dark fantasy written beautifully but not without flaws.

Kristen

Kristen is the co-blog owner of The Book Monsters. Kristen is an Elementary School Library Media Specialist in the Chicago suburbs who loves reading. Why else would she be a librarian?

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One response to “Book Review: Finnikin of the Rock

  1. Oh, I’m so sorry you didn’t like this more, because it’s my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE. I’ve read it twice and listened to the audio once. I think the story is so layered, and very much a fantasy version of the type of politics and conflicts that displaced people truly feel. It is darker and more adult than a lot of YA fantasy — in part because it’s Australian, I think — but I think that’s what draws me to it and I can understand it being too much for some people. I love Finnikin and Evanjalin so much because they are so flawed, but so fierce. And Froi! his is a true story of redemption. It all comes together over the series, and you do see more of the Monts (who I really enjoyed, too). Okay, now I want to re-read this series again.

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