Friday, June 8, 2012

Review: Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta


Title: Finnikin of the Rock 
Series: The Lumatere Chronicles 
Book #: One
Author: Melina Marchetta 
Release Date: September 29, 2008
Source: Local Library 
Format: Hard Cover

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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. (taken from goodreads.com) 
Up until I stumbled upon Finnikin of the Rock on a back shelf in my local library, I'd forgotten how much I craved true fantasy in literature. This heart-stopping, enchanting, mesmerizing, ingenious novel reawakened my passion for magic and kingdoms of long ago. Reminiscent of classic tales such as the Chronicles of Narnia, Finnikin of the Rock is downright epic. The scale and complexity of the novel blew me away. I'm not entirely sure that I'll be able to properly convey my adoration for this gem.

Marchetta's fantastical novel possesses a level of complexity that few other books can achieve without boring the readers. The plot never got stuck in a rut or lost my interest. No, I devoured the pages without hesitation. The history of Lumatere and the island of Skuldenore captivated me. The plot twisted and turned in ways I never expected. Not only are there epic battle scenes, but there are also moments of bonding and revelation. I love nothing more than a good mystery. A mystery set in a cursed kingdom with the amazing Finnikin and a dash of romance? Gah, it's too good to be true.

Ah, the character development. It makes me want to jump for joy and praise this book to every passerby. I loved EVERY character, even the evil ones, simply because they are incredibly realistic and intriguing. I developed deep, intense bonds with them all. Usually I'm able to select a favorite character, but in this instance, I'm torn. I admired the bravery and intelligence of so many. 

The content contains more adult material than I would have guessed. Horrific slaughters, cursing, sex, disturbing violence, and other PG-13 topics proliferate the novel. While such risky subjects may offend some readers, I believe they contributed to the enormous scale and authenticity of the plot. The story may be set in a fictional world, but countless themes that apply to humans as a whole crop up. Forgiveness, responsibility, fear, trust. It's all there and phrased beautifully. 

When I selected Finnikin of the Rock out of a stack of forgotten books on a whim, I had no idea what was in store for my emotions. Then, halfway through the story, I dashed to the library and grabbed the second book so I'd have it on hand the moment I finished. This book blew past any expectations I had, earning itself a place on my favorites shelf. I have no idea why it isn't more popular. I'll be recommending it to everyone I know, especially my friends who adore The Lord of the Rings and other legendary tales. Loved. It. 

Rating: 5 Stars