Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Release Date: 2010
Series: Lumatere Chronicles #1
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Bought
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.
I don’t even know where to begin. Wow…just WOW. I’ve read two of Marchetta’s books, Jellicoe Road and Saving Francesca. They were both incredible. Melina Marchetta is probably one of the best writers of our time. But I had no idea how that was going to work in a high fantasy novel. I really shouldn’t have questioned it, because I now know that Melina can do absolutely no wrong. I thought she was amazing before reading this book, but now I think she way beyond amazing. I don’t even have words for how amazing.
I love high fantasy. It’s really making a run for my favorite genre, so reading Finnikin of the Rock was a necessity. With a lot of fantasy novels there’s so much world building within the first half of the book that it can get a little tedious, but the world building in Finnikin was done in such a way that I never ever even considered being bored. I was captivated from page 1. There’s so much history and detail in the world. It’s so believable. It would be impossible to not get invested in this world of Finnikin’s. It’s darker than I was expecting. Full of murder and horrible curses. People have been ripped from their country and loved ones, but that just made me even more committed to the story.
It all seems so hopeless, but Finnikin, Evanjalin, and their other travel companions are the spark in this otherwise sad story. You can feel their hope and longing for home. It was infectious. I was so full of anxiety for them because I wanted things to work out so bad. Finnikin was a excellent character. He was strong and brave. He was stubborn at times, but what young man isn’t. He was so selfless and wise beyond is years. How could you not love that? Evanjalin was incredible. I loved that the girl was the mysterious one in this book. She had all the power and Finnikin was the one that got to be in awe of her. I loved the dynamic between them. Their relationship built slowly, oh so slowly. Seeing it through Finnikin’s eyes was fantastic. Some of the conversations between them made me swoon. I really loved every second of it, can you tell?
It’s not enough that Marchetta wrote these amazing characters and created this extraordinary world, no she also filled it with twists and turns that I never saw coming. I usually figure out plot elements pretty early on in a story, not with Finnikin of the Rock. I maybe figured the Biggest Thing about two pages before it was revealed and WOW. I was just astounded when all of the lose ends started coming together. I was in awe! Really, there were several occasions that I just had to put the book down and digest the awesomeness.
I cannot stress to you enough how breathtaking Finnikin of the Rock is. This review does it no justice. If you read one book that I recommend to you in 2012 make it this one. Please. It will go above and beyond your expectations.