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I Belong

Review: Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Title: Finnikin of the Rock

Author: Melina Marchetta

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Lumatere Chronicles (Book 1)

Publication Date: February 9, 2010

Format: Hardcover, 399 Pages

ISBN-10: 0763643610 (Candlewick Press)

ISBN-13: 978-0763643614 (Candlewick Press)

Reviewed by: Michelle


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.

Quick & Dirty: A mesmerizing story that brings you deep into a fantasy world, that you will never want to leave.

Opening Sentence: A long time ago, in the spring before the five days of the unspeakable, Finnikin of the Rock dreamed that he was to sacrifice a pound of flesh to save the royal house of Lumatere.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I believe that Marchetta writes stories that mesmerize you. She puts you in her trance and let’s you follow along like a pied piper. There are a few authors that I love, and Marchetta has quickly made her way into my heart. Finnikin of the Rock is my second Marchetta book, and I felt that since I loved Jellicoe Road so much, there wouldn’t be anything that could rival how I feel. I was wrong.

Finnikin of the Rock is a world filled with magic and lore. It is filled with wonder and fantasy that makes it possible to believe in. Finnikin of the Rock is the story that made its way into my heart, along with each word, each chapter, each page, and each character. The world that was created and each detailed scene adds to the story. It’s like I’m watching the story unfold with myself in the background.

To say this is a masterpiece would do it injustice.

Finnikin of the Rock is an epic journey of a young man, who is destined to help bring Lumatere’s people back from exile. Finnikin is the childhood friend of the crowned prince, Balthazar and son of the captain of the guard. He was warned that he was to sacrifice a pound of flesh to save the royal house of Lumatere. Then the five days of the unspeakable happen, when the royal family is murdered. See? Epic.

Ten years later, Finnikin has been wandering the lands, searching for anyone who survived the five days of the unspeakable. Along with his mentor, Sir Topher, they work towards recording the deaths and improving the conditions of those who were exiled. Finnikin is summoned to another rock, where he meets Evanjalin, who says she knows where Balthazar is. Together, they are to seek out others who could help bring the people of Lumatere out of exile.

Finnikin is the boy who could. After the tragedy of the five days of the unspeakable, he continued on, learning as much as he can to help bring back his people. His determination and loyalty is something that I covet. It’s like that movie, Rudy. He never gave up, despite the obstacles and challenges that he met. The way Marchetta built his character was simply amazing. He was strong, weak, smart, and witty. While he had determination, he also had guilt. There was a fire that breathed in him that you couldn’t help but love.

I loved Evanjalin. Her story broke me into a million pieces and her hope mended it with the passion that she showed. She was beautiful even before I knew what she looked like. While she seemed guarded, it was nice to see a vulnerable side around Finnikin. She was well developed and felt so real. I loved her like one of my own. Her stories will make you cry, but her passion will give you strength. She really is a remarkable character.

Marchetta blew me away with this book. I could never have imagined to be brought into a world just like this one. The kingdom, the past, the people, the culture…it all was so well developed and well written. Once you read this, you will understand. There is a realism in her writing that allows you to get lost in her breath-taking world. And the emotions that you will feel! She brought me on the verge of tears every few pages. I swear, every chapter had that moment where you felt your heart ache with that warmth of emotion.

Words cannot express how amazing this book is. Another example of why I love to read. There is an empowerment in her writing and in her characters. There is a sense of pride that resonates throughout the book that has you thinking about it for days. Marchetta said it best when she said, “Because without our language, we have lost ourselves. Who are we without our words.”

Notable Scene:

“Your voice could do with a bit more of a trill,” he said.

“Really? Because yours could do with a bit more refinement. For someone who’s supposed to be the future king’s First Man, you sound like a fishmonger.”

“First,” he seethed, “I belong to the future King’s Guard and second, my father was the son of a fishmonger, so I would choose my insults more carefully if I were you.”

“Finnikin! Practice,” Sir Topher called out again.

Evanjalin returned to the task with the pheasant as if Finnikin were no longer there.

“You have a very dark heart,” he accused.

“It’s good of you to recognize, Finnikin,” she said without looking up. “There’s hope for you yet.”

The Lumatere Chronicles:

1. Finnikin of the Rock

2. Froi of the Exiles

3. Quintana of the Charyn (March 12, 2013)

FTC Advisory: I purchased this copy of Finnikin of the Rock. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Review: Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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