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Guest Review: Finnikin of The Rock by Melina Marchetta

Please, welcome a wonderful new blogger Eva from Book Stoner whose reviews and little cartoons always make me giggle. Eva, thank you very much for agreeing to do a guest review on NBR!
Hope, you guys, enjoy it and pop in to say hello to Eva!

 Finnikin Of The Rock by Melina Marchetta (Lumatere Chronicles #1)


Synopsis 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.

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.

Amazon  US/UK | Amazon kindle US | The Book Depository US/UK


* * *
 Finnikin of the Rock is one great adventure. The novel is a story about lives shattered by a curse that only pain and sacrifice can break, and intertwined by a destiny that only the bravest, determined, and strongest can bear.

When they were young, Finnikin, Prince Balthazar, and Lucian made a pact. Finnikin vowed that he would protect and guide the kingdom of Lumatere, Prince Balthazar swore that he would die defending his family, the royal house, and Lucian pledged to be the Lumateran people’s beacon of safety. Children dream of becoming kings and queens, warriors, protectors, and princesses so one would think nothing of the pact, but the gods heard. Since "gods make playthings of people," unbeknownst to them, the pact sealed Finnikin, Balthazar, and Lucian's destiny.

Then came the five days of the unspeakable when assassins rushed the kingdom of Lumatere and killed the queen, the king, and their children. Prince Balthazar is nowhere to be found. What's left of him is just a hand print of blood and even though they could not find the young heir's body, everyone assumed he died. A traitor claimed the throne and killed all those who opposed him. In rage, the witch Seranonna cursed the kingdom of Lumatere. Since then a dark mist shrouded the kingdom. Some people fled Lumatere and settled in other kingdoms as exiles and although they found a safe place to live, they suffer from poverty, die of diseases, and endure being slaves.

After ten years, Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, are summoned to the cloister of the goddess Lagrami where they meet a novice girl, a dream walker, Evanjalin, who claims that Balthazar, rightful heir to the throne of Lumatere, is alive. Overwhelmed by hope that they can overthrow the tyrant ruler of Lumatere and bring all the exiles home, Finnikin, Sir Topher, and Evanjalin venture on a quest all over Skuldenore to exile camps to find Lumatere's priest-king, the King's Guard who was jailed for treason, and his men in hiding - the defenders of Lumatere. The plan is to ask the priest-king and the King's Guard to help them find Balthazar and rally all the exiles to the Valley of Tranquility where they will congregate and march to the gates of Lumatere and reclaim their kingdom. We all know, of course, that some things don't go according to plan. Deterred by fear, betrayal, and lies, Finnikin must keep searching to find hope for the Lumateran people who have suffered so much and so long and also find the strength and courage to fulfill a destiny so great that the future of the Lumaterans depends on it. 

Aside from Finnikin of the Rock, I have read two other novels by Melina Marchetta. I’m convinced that she somehow finds a way to portray the lives of people who need our attention through her novels. In Saving Francesca, Marchetta talks about depression and the state of mind of an individual suffering from it. In The Piper’s Son, she honors war veterans, innocent civilians who die in terrorist attacks, and their families who are left to grieve. In Finnikin of the Rock, the struggles and difficulties of the Lumaterans mirror that of the experiences of people displaced from their homes as a result of war. The Lumateran people are the refugees today, mostly in the Middle East, Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe, who were displaced from their homes because of political or religious conflicts in their own countries. Finnikin of the Rock brings to light a relevant issue, and for that alone, I think it deserves ten stars. 

Aside from the novel's meaningful message, it deserves a high rating because Marchetta wrote it well. Finnikin of the Rock has a well-layered plot and solid characters that people would root for and identify with. Finnikin's heart is in the right place, despite his penchant for "whoring" (Evanjalin's words, not mine). He may be stubborn and prideful at times but he's brave and heroic. I'm sure readers would love Evanjalin so much more though. She's clever, cunning, and impulsive. Evanjalin is also secretive, and thus, unpredictable. She makes other people question whether she's trustworthy or not. Evanjalin shakes things up, which is something to be desired of a female protagonist.

The story is fast-paced and thus, never boring. There's a prophecy that keeps the mystery in the story, events that make it a thrilling adventure - the quest to find Balthazar from one kingdom to another, the characters not knowing what to expect, scuffles with thieves, slave traders, and enemy soldiers, stealing horses only to have others steal it from them, and then stealing the horses back, a prison break, etc. - and an unpredictable twist that would surprise and satisfy readers. I'm telling you, the twist is one of the best I've read. The book also balances fantasy and magic, mystery, adventure, romance, and humor.

I have to say Finnikin of the Rock is in the same league as Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones. Marchetta created a unique world, the Land of Skuldenore, that readers would find worthwhile to explore.

I cannot wait to read the sequel, Froi of the Exiles.


Eva E. said...

YAY! Thanks so much! :)

I'm loving your new design, especially the background image! :)

I hope you're doing okay.

kara-karina@Nocturnal Book Reviews said...

Thank you, Eva! :) The background is a steampunk collage from Tarayue on DeviantART, and I really love it as well. I've been tinkering with the new design all this week, and this is what came out.
I'm fine at the moment, I think the family is coping really well. Thanks again for agreeing to a blog post, I think it's a brilliant review :)

Melliane said...

Oh I didn't know this book but it sounds really great, thanks for the review!

Karina your new blog is awesome, I just love it! It's an amazing idea to change like that.

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