Monday, April 9, 2012

Review: Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

At the age of nine, Finnikin pledges to defend his kingdom of Lumatere alongside Prince Balthazar and Balthazar's cousin, Lucian.  But all safety is shattered during the "five days of the unspeakable," when the royal family is brutally murdered. An impostor seizes the throne, but a curse binds all who remain inside the country's walls  while the rest, who escape, are landless exiles constrained in deadly fever camps.  Fast forward ten years, and  Finnikin answers a summoning to meet Evanjalin who claims Balthazar, the rightful heir to the throne, is alive. Slightly arrogant and very secretive, Evanjalin claims she'll lead Finnikin and his mentor to the prince. Instead, her leadership puts them on a perilous route towards home. Can Lumatere be saved? Can the crown be restored? Evanjalin is not what she seems, and her startling visions of Lumatere will test Finnikin's faith in Evanjalin and his destiny.

Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles #1)
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta ran hot and cold for me. Sometimes I was into it, but not consistently.  I would recommend it if you were passing it at the library, but I wouldn't run out and push old ladies down to buy it.  ( I will read the sequel, however, when it comes out).

The third section of the book is a surprisingly serious meditation on hope, broken faith, the sexual vulnerability of women, and female power.  The best part of this book is that it doesn't end with a triumphant battle, but a mediation on life and loss. I found this section moving and thought provoking. 

Originality: 6. This is a pretty basic 'kingdoms at war' plot, with the pre-rec fantasy map. BUT  I found the diplomacy between these nations boring. Snooozzze.
Absurdity:  8. Pretty high, because it is true fantasy: long-lost prince and princesses, prophecies, curses, and magic.
Level of Paranormal Romance:  I don't want to give too much away, but at the end there is a long march (emotional and physical) that Finn undertakes, and it made for a surprisingly swoon-worthy finale--so 6! I was happily surprised.
Level of Harry Potter-ness: a 5 for magical curses and 6 for writing--Marchetta is good, even if I don't totally love the world she built. It is still compelling and well done.


  1. Hmm. Hmm. Hmm. This author is on my to-read list for this month, because it's Aussie Author month. Now I'm trying to decide if I should read Jellicoe Road (original idea) or this!

  2. JELLICOE ROAD. I just finished it on Saturday. Best book I have read in a while! Finnikin was good, but JR was GREAT.

  3. I totally agree with your hot and cold assessment! Compared to her contemporary books, Finnikin is surprisingly bland and unemotional, which is weird because I normally love fantasy and hate contemporary. Froi of the Exiles is supposed to be amazing, though!

  4. I really love Melina Marchetta, so needless to say, I adored this book. I'm always up for a good epic fantasy once in a while, and this one hit the spot for me. I'm so excited to read Froi of the Exiles!

    And seriously, Jellicoe Road is pretty much my favorite YA.


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