Title: Finnikin of the Rock
Series: Lumatere Chronicles #1
Author: Melina Marchetta
Reviewed by Holly
Amanda, the fastest and most voracious reader I know, has actually described a book to me before as “I finished it, and I loved it so much that I immediately started re-reading it again.”
One, I know, she’s kind of a nut. Two, I loved Finnikin of the Rock (another Amanda-recommended – or demanded – read) about that much. I found myself slowing down the closer I got to the end of the book, flipping back through previous chapters to check back on details I couldn’t quite remember, because I wasn’t ready for the story to be over.
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
I loved fantasy stories as a kid – books like A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – and I adore the Harry Potter books. Our dad chose The Hobbit for childhood bedtime reading, so I was probably primed to love stories about faraway kingdoms.
However, my love for this book started out slow. I wasn’t sure how I felt after the first two chapters. The first chapter basically repeated the summary on the sleeve (hardcover. library.) and then jumps to ten years after the people of Lumatere lost their royal family, and were either trapped outside the kingdom in exile or stuck with an imposter-king inside. It took a minute to get into the story and make sense of what had happened and what Finnikin and Sir Topher were trying to do. However, the more I read, the more I fell in love with the characters: Finnikin, who lost his father and his kingdom, and agonized over his perceived guilt in orchestrating those losses – and the novice Evanjalin, who is strong and gentle and fearless and vulnerable all in one.
There were a couple details that I wanted Marchetta to flesh out more – like how girls became “novices,” the stories of the goddesses, and the circumstances in which Finnikin heard the words of a prophecy about his future when he was just eight. Maybe I’ll learn more about the kingdom of Lumatere in the other books, but if not, I’ll have to be satisified with the explainations of those questions offered by context.
And maybe, I’ll pull an Amanda and re-read the book again quickly to see if I can pick up anything that I missed.
Rating: FOUR STARS