Thursday, May 24, 2012

REVIEW: "Finnikin of the Rock" by Melina Marchetta

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
(Lumatere Chronicles #1)

Young Adult--Fantasy
For Ages 13+
Viking Australia--2008
Hardcover, 399 pages

Rating: 4.5 Stars


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 have heard many fabulous things about Melina Marchetta's YA books.  Most of my blogger friends have provided great reviews of her contemporary fiction.  I always meant to get started on her books, but never found one that grabbed my attention until I heard about Finnikin on the Rock, the first book in her Lumatere Chronicles fantasy series.  I adore YA high fantasy so I was pumped to try this one out.  And I am so glad I did!  Finnikin... is an entertaining adventure full of well-written characters, tons of suspense, and some of the best worldbuilding I've seen in YA literature.

In order to avoid spoilers, I won't be able to give much of a plot summary beyond what is provided above.  I will say that I loved how Marchetta mapped out her storylines.  There is so much going on in this book at all times with a huge cast and all their comings and goings.  The whole book starts off with a bang and just keeps going at a sometimes exhausting pace until the conclusion.  There is plenty of mystery and political turmoil which is nicely balanced by a dark humor and a sweet romance.

The protagonist is Finnikin, a nineteen year old warrior-in-training, who has traveled around with his mentor and friend, Sir Topher, since the murder of the royal family.  He is a wonderfully written character with plenty of quirks and vulnerabilities to keep a reader's attention.  Finnikin has a definite sense of loyalty to his homeland and does everything in this power to help restore peace. 

Besides Finnikin, there are many side characters that help move the story along and have their own personal backstories.  I especially loved Evanjalin, the mute novice who claims to know where the lost heir is.  She starts off as a seemingly weak girl, but shows her strength of character and determination early on.  Her mysterious past is a major subplot of this story that I found suspenseful and surprising at times.  Some of the others I liked were Froi, the young exiled thief, and Sir Topher, Finnikin's mentor.  Again I don't want to provide much more information about the minor characters in order to avoid spoiling all the twists and turns that Marchetta provides the reader.

Therefore, this is a fabulously entertaining fantasy that seems to have everything: admirable protagonist, detailed side characters, a sweet love story, lots of action, and plenty of mystery.  I look forward to reading more of Marchetta's work especially the other books in the Lumatere Chronicles. 


Lumatere Chronicles
1. Finnikin of the Rock
2. Froi of the Exiles
3. Quintana of the Charyns (To Be Released 2012)


  1. I loved this book! Great review. I have been having Froi of the Exile for weeks but cannot bring myself to open it because the next one is so far away. ~dixie

    1. I'm having the same dilemma! I just got Froi from the library and I want to read it so badly, but I know I have such a long wait until Quintana is released.


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