Thursday, January 24, 2013

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta [Review]

Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles, #1)4 out of 5 Robots!

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Series: Lumatere Chronicles #1
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release: February 9, 2010
Hardcover: 399 Pages
Publisher: Candlewick Press
My Copy: Purchased
Reviewer: Shannon
Buy the Book: Amazon

Book Summary:
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.
(Courtesy of the Publisher)
Shannon's Thoughts:
It has been awhile since I've read "High Fantasy" and a young adult one at that.  Finnikin of the Rock is dense, but there is a lot to like here.  Once Finnikin and Sir Topher meet up with Evanjalin, she sets them on a course to reclaim the throne, reunite the exiles and take back their homeland.  There are a lot of trials and tribulations, testing of faith, and reunions of long lost love ones.  Marchetta doesn't shy away from harsh realities though.  Her descriptions of the 5 Days of the Unspeakable is pretty gruesome and can be a bit of a punch to the stomach.  And her depiction of the exiles felt particularly realistic. (I couldn't help but think of other real life refuge camps and the problems they face, not just healthy wise, but mentally and psychologically as well)

Finnikin of the Rock tends to suffer from some pacing issues.  Considering that the return to Lumatere is the main point of the book, I felt that part was a bit rushed and oddly anticlimactic. Also, I think the reader's enjoyment of this book hinges a bit on how they view Evanjalin.  Evanjalin lies, connives, deceits, and misleads everyone throughout.  She is very much an "end justify the means" kind of girl. Her reasons are revealed later on, but for some readers I don't think it will be enough to justify her actions.   I find myself feeling ambivalent about Evanjalin.  I didn't hate her, but after 400 pages I found her subterfuge a little tiring. 

Overall, I found myself enjoying this book.  I like the realistic tones even though it had a fantasy setting.  I should warn that I don't think this would an appropriate book for younger teens or those who do not like to read books with a lot of violence and sexual references. 

Books in the series in the order they should be read:
1. Finnikin of the Rock
2. Froi of the Exiles
3. Queen of Charyn


  1. I really love the high fantasy books, they are different from what is really popular now a days and they are always so interesting because so many characters die (I know weird thought lol). I'm interested to know more about Evanjalin, she doesn't sound like a character that a reader would be ambivalent towards, so I wonder what exactly in the writing made you feel like that. Great review!

    1. People seemed to either love her or hate her. And I just didn't really feel anything for her. I neither liked her or disliked her. I think it was because I didn't really connect to the characters very strongly so when she put them in bad situations, I wasn't that invested in the outcome. But I agree, most people would have a strong reaction to her.

      Shannon @ Rex Robot Reviews



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