Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Finnikin of the Rock: review

Title: Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles #1)
Author: Melina Marchetta
Genres: high fantasy, adventure, magic, romance
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.

Looking back, I think I didn't like this book at first because I had no idea in which direction it was going. At my first glance there didn't seem to be a straight path to connect it to, and right off some characters appeared way differently to me than described in the summary. The start was so fast and so slow at the same time, if that's possible. And I can honestly say I was not 'hooked from the first page'. I could tell it had potential though and was excited and in need of another good fantasy series. Two references kept this book open for me: The first: A friend who knows me enough to judge accurately what type of books I would like. And the second: The fact that Kristin Cashore blurbed it! And I worship her. Now this book is ranked just as high as Cashore’s books are on my favorites list. It just took me a little while. I will try to explain.

I'm used to, when reading fantasy, lots of complex political intrigue and titles, characters and places to remember...and unfortunately all of those are usually tornadoed together in my head. As a sort of "oh yeah, that disagreement between the kings is going on somewhere, and i think it connects to the story somehow, but i dont think its worth trying to untangle." Finnikin of the Rock was no exception to the whole web, but amazingly, it actually makes sense because I wanted it to; because so much of the story is focused on that. Who is at war with whom and curses and territories, and segregation by the 'language' you goes on. So it kept my focus!

The first half of this book took me about a week to read. I wasn't even reading anything else in between. And for its size, that's an unusually slow pace for me.  I mean, I liked it a lot, and was obviously not giving up on it, but it almost seemed to drag...or maybe too many things were happening at once to let me fully gather the plot as a whole of the story. Maybe I was just being lazy.
But! The second half took me a few hours. I know exactly the point when I all of the sudden couldn't put it down. The chapter when the POV switches to a new character. A new angle, and it's almost simple in nature. You will know whom I'm talking about. Anyway, when it switches to their point of view, MY whole view changed on the story, because it happened in a VERY pivotal part in the story! All the sudden I was gripping the page and crying out, "Wait! I love these characters! What's happening! I care!" I hadn't realized how attached to the story I had become. Then, after that particularly stressful chapter was over, I loved every bit of Finnikin of the Rock.

The romance in this book is fantastic. It's sooo complicated I had no idea what would happen next regarding Evanjalin and Finnikin. (Sorry, spoiler.) they were so REAL that there were no (or at least very little) clichés or corny lines. In fact I could say that applies to most of the supporting characters as well. All of them felt so lifelike and the decisions they made were not good guy equals good decision and visa versa. Saying that everyone had their own agenda sounds like they are all evil super villains or something, but that’s kind of how it came across for me. In the good way. Each person had his or her own personal reason for contributing to the plot. And you never knew which way it would turn next.

By the end I had unintentionally progressed my reading to my normal super-fast mode and physically had to slow myself down in order for it to last longer...and believe me, in those last few chapters it's hard not to just tear right through.

I usually don't go on this long about books I LIKE. Usually it's ranting the other way. But I just have to say this book WOWED me.

Strong, shining five stars!

(Two weird spelling ticks I couldn’t get over.

1. Evanjalin’s name. No, I never fully pronounced her name correctly in my head. It just didn’t flow nicely like other character names. It’s pretty though! Just kind of a mouthful.

2. Lumatere. 90 percent of the time I said Lutamere. (Lootahmayre) Doesn’t it sound like it could belong in Middle Earth??? It so would. Like Faramir or Cirith Ungol? It’s probably just me. Lutamere…”home of the frightened people”, or something.)

One last thing, I will for sure be reading more of Marchetta's books in the future! The rest of this series as well as some of her contemporary fiction.

I also highly suggest Obernewtyn and Graceling!



  1. I am so glad to see you gave this book five stars. It has been sitting on my shelf for over a year now unread. I started it and I guess had the same problem. I guess it is one of those books that takes a bit longer to get into. And now I plan on starting it again tonight. Thank you!

    Konstanz Silverbow

  2. I am so glad that you stuck it out and finished this book! I would have hated for you to miss such a wonderful book! I fell in love with each character and I felt like I knew each one personally. I think that is why it felt like the book was slow paced yet fast. She used great detail to help the reader visualize the story. I know that I cried and laughed and felt for each character. The second book in the series is just as good if not better and I cannot wait to read the third book! Thank you for the review! It's nice to hear other perspectives.

  3. I have heard over and over again that I need to read this book! I love fantasy, but like you mentioned I tend to kinda skim over a lot of the political stuff (not because I don't think it's interesting, but because it just takes so much effort!), so it's great to hear that this makes sense in that fashion! I'm totally going to pick it up even sooner now.