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 have this problem – I love fantasy novels, I really and truly do, BUT I always sturggle so much with the world building in them. Finnikin of the Rock was no different. On a whole, this book is excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed so many of the characters, with Evanjalin being my favorite. She wasn’t perfect. She was mysterious. She was manipulative. She was a fighter. She was a liar, but in the best of ways. And she was totally amazing. Of course I loved Finnikin too! The relationship build between Finnikin and Evanjalin was excellent. The scenes between the two of them were some of my favorites of the novel. And then there was Froi. He’s a tough one. In the beginning he was a thief and attacked Evanjalin, but he does start to grow on you, in a way. Evanjalin certainly knows how to handle him. I look forward to seeing how his journey continues in the next book in the Lumatere Chronicles, Froi of the Exiles.
Where the confusion came in for me was keeping all the lands and the name of the people who lived in them straight. There were so many and I couldn’t keep track of who were the good guys and who were the bad. I also still do not understand exactly what happened during ‘the five days of the unspeakable’, which is the event that this book centers on. I have the general idea, I think, but this part confused me so much as I was reading. There was a chapter towards the beginning that sort of gave a run through of the events so I was thinking everything would be cleared up and explained, but… Perhaps it was just too much for me.
Overall, this was a really wonderful fantasy novel and I absolutely recommend for those who love this genre!
4 out of 5!