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Finnikin of the Rockby Melina Marchetta
Series: Lumatere Chronicles #1
Publication: Candlewick Press on April 6th 2010
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy
Better World Books • Book Depository • Goodreads
Finnikin was only a child during the five days of the unspeakable, when the royal family of Lumatere were brutally murdered, and an imposter seized the throne. Now a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere’s walls, and those who escaped roam the surrounding lands as exiles, persecuted and despairing, dying by the thousands in fever camps. In a narrative crackling with the tension of an imminent storm, Finnikin, now on the cusp on manhood, is compelled to join forces with an arrogant and enigmatic young novice named Evanjalin, who claims that her dark dreams will lead the exiles to a surviving royal child and a way to pierce the cursed barrier and regain the land of Lumatere. But Evanjalin’s unpredictable behavior suggests that she 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.
[dropcap]F[/dropcap]innikin of the Rock struck me in a way I was not expecting.
I had, of course, heard nearly unending praise from the book blogging world, but outside of the internet, I’ve never actually heard mention of the Lumatere Chronicles. I eventually decided to pick it up as part of a readathon hosted by fellow book blogs A Novel Idea and Bookish Whimsy… I’m very glad I did.
I was slow to start Finnikin, partially because I went into it fully armed with an unfair prejudice against high fantasy. I have a hard time sinking my teeth into books full of strange, sixteen-syllable names and and long-winded fight scenes. Finnikin wasn’t like that, though. The author actually made very beautiful and fitting twists on familiar names and everything was firmly on the comfortable side of foreign. What I would call the “boring” bits of most high fantasy novels were nearly completely omitted in this novel–while there were battles and winding travels, the reader wasn’t forced to endure them along with the characters.
It wasn’t long after Evanjalin came onto the scene that I was really completely sold. I was so intrigued by her character and the mystery that surrounded her (this is how true fantasy heroines are written!)–and not long after, I fell in love with just about every other character, from Trevanion to Froi. I didn’t always like Finnikin (or several other characters, to be fair), but I think that’s ultimately why I ended up loving him. The characters were real. They faltered. They failed. They were shaped by the events in their lives. They expressed so many facets of personality that at times it was hard to describe them in just a few traits–and after all, isn’t that true for all of humanity?
From the characters to the story to the narrative itself (I especially loved the chapters from Froi’s point of view!), I’m struggling to find faults in Finnikin of the Rock. This book grabs you by the heart and refuses to let go. Even when you don’t want to love the characters. Even when the story is almost painful to read, you can’t stop.
I literally read the bulk of this book in two sittings. Would I recommend Finnikin of the Rock? Yes. Yep. Absolutely. Melina Marchetta weaves a brilliant fantasy world with a wonderful cast of characters that I was reluctant to leave–and look very much forward to visiting again in the next installment in the Lumatere Chronicles!