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 words.
©2008 Melina Marchetta (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
"Filled with questions about the impact of exile and the human need to belong, this standout fantasy quickly reveals that its real magic lies in its accomplished writing." (Booklist)
WOWSA!!! "Finnikin of the Rock" is possibly the best fantasy book that I have listened to in *years!* I'm not even exaggerating a little bit. This is an epic quest told in this deliciously compact format. The writing is beautiful AND brilliant. The characters are drawn with precision and finely layered. The journey is worthy, the fight is "what must be done," the relationships profound and complex. I'm pretty sure I could flail around and continue to list praises for this book for most of my day! I won't do it justice.
This is a book full of men - boldly drawn men, warriors and priests and nobility and peasants and thieves. The narrator created wonderful voices for these characters, and I could see every one of them so clearly in my head as I listened to the story. He did an equally good job with the female characters, and I thought the tone and pace of the narration was spot-on.
The relationships in this story blew me away. The author did not pull punches. People are messy. Relationships can bring as much pain as joy. And we see relationships of every kind here - familial, brotherly bonds, warriors-in-arms, families created by choice rather than blood, mentor and ward, master and slave, lovers and friends. This author is a master craftsman, and she delivers an amazing story in "Finnikin." I could not recommend this more highly - 5 stars!
A trilogy. Say it in three. Done.
Good narratation, but the story didn't hold my attention. To me, it felt boring and long, with some compelling scenes. I kept waiting for the plot or the characters to engage my interest or emotions, but it's hard to fall in love with juvenile, bratty, manipulative protagonists. Basically, I didn't much care for Finnikin or Evanjalin. She's controlling and deceptive. He's full of himself, and believes some minor thing that he did when he was nine years old brought about the end of the kingdom of Lumatere and the exile of thousands. His guilt-tripping got old fast.
I like to laugh occasionally, even in fantasy novels, but this book isn't lighthearted, with a few exceptional scenes. There's lots of bickering among friends and family across this book, which seemed mostly like male posturing on Finn's part. Even when the tone should have been celebratory -- when old friends reunite -- the characters fell to squabbling (Finn and Lucien).
The dialogue felt like it was written for 12-year-olds, but then there are references to sex, sodomy, and rape. Was that meant to appeal to mature readers? It just felt like a misfit to me.
The world-building didn't add up (or was poorly accounted for and explained) in terms of the magical sleep walking and the dark mist, and the two goddesses, dark Sagrami and light Lagrami, which together make the goddess complete (yes, so what?? I kept waiting for the drum roll, the big boon).
Odd, the varied races of humans on such a small island (they walked from end to end in a few weeks).
On an up note, the theme of exile was rather well done, and brought to mind the Diaspora of the Jewish / Hebrew people, or the fragmentation of the Native American tribes, etc.
Finnikin is the 1st of 3 in the series, but is the only book that can exist on its own. To me, it is the best of the 3 books. Nothing really new or inventive for the genre.
Book 2 ends in incomplete storylines whereas the Finnikin book could be fine if it were the only book you listen to. There are many parts of all 3 books that are very moving and well-written. The repeated problem with the series is that situation after situation resolves around someone not saying the MOST obvious thing at that time. Arguments, flights, entire chapters revolve around characters simply not stating the obvious facts they know, but decide not to share - no rationale why - they just don't communicate. The pattern starts mid-way through Finnikin, but it does become repetitively predictable through books 2 and 3 - to the point that every major plot point depends on it There are times you just want to yell because no group of characters could be this stupid at communicating with each other.
It's Melina Marchetta, people - do you expect anything less than 5 stars? She's amazing.
This is some seriously good Fantasy. Fans of Graceling will love.
The following review contains SPOILERS
This book had a really stark contrast of strengths and weaknesses. What the author did well was done really, really well in my opinion. She wasn't afraid to breach subject matter that most YA authors won't touch with a 10-foot pole - and I felt that in this case, it was (mostly) tastefully done for world-building purposes. It was refreshing to read a fantasy novel that wasn't afraid of adult themes or dark subject matter, and I was satisfied with the balance struck here in that very little of it was gratuitous - an established risk of introducing topics such as rape, prostitution, and sexual content in general. I did feel that some of the scenes and descriptions were rather bizarre and unnecessary.
I enjoyed the first roughly 75% of the book. The writing was good and the story was built up at a very nice pace, with plenty of details about the setting and history of the world. I won't say that it was entirely unpredictable, as I guessed the main plot twist (Evanjalin's true identity being Princess Isaboe) from the first chapter or two of the story, but it's to the credit of the author that I pretty much forgot my initial suspicions as the story went on as Evanjalin's characterization was very well-presented. Evanjalin was the most interesting character in my opinion, although she lacked something in dynamicism. She was, however, a strong female figure who did not take any crap, which I personally always appreciate. I also liked the incorporation of the other characters and I felt that they were all pretty well-developed.
I felt that the main weakness of this book was in the main character, which was, as you might guess, a rather notable problem. Finnikin's character development could have used some more work and I felt the author was far too indecisive and wishy-washy with the direction she wanted to go with him. The most prevalent issue was the way she kept switching his feelings towards Isaboe on and off like a light switch. I had no problem with Finnikin acting a little misogynistic in the beginning of the book, as I assumed he would grow in this regard a lot more than he actually did. Finnikin and Evanjalin throughout 90% of the book can be summed up as follows: Finnikin mistrusts Evanjalin for reasons that aren't very clear, until, on the turn of a dime, he decides he loves her until an incident gives him a(nother) reason not to. Finnikin is given countless opportunities to understand Evanjalin's motivations and come to know her as a person, but continues to make the choice to distrust her time and time again. I honestly didn't understand why she never just had it out with him over it, since he never gave her the benefit of the doubt even when she had proven herself trustworthy ten times over. Even once it is revealed that Evanjalin is truly Isaboe, which puts to bed for good the question of whether he can trust her to have Lumatere's best interests at heart, Finnikin still can't make up his mind about her; he consistently casts doubt on her choices and decisions and refuses to trust in or stand up for her when the occasion arises. I just didn't understand that. By the end of the book, I was just wondering what thing was going to turn him off to her next. I just wanted the author to make a decision already about how he felt about Isaboe and stop throwing romantic drama in where there didn't need to be any. Then at the end, there's a lot of talk about how Finnikin doesn't want to marry Isaboe as she's the queen. I guess this could be interpreted as Finnikin being loathe to step into the role of king if Isaboe was already there to lead, even if it meant they couldn't be together because of it. I personally read it more as him feeling totally emasculated by the idea of marrying a woman of a higher social strata. I honestly don't even know what the intended conflict was here, as he's constantly choosing the exact opposite of what she wants throughout the book and agreeing to become king is an awfully large concession for somebody who has made pretty much no concessions whatsoever up to this point in the relationship.
Although the backstory and world-building was very good as I mentioned before, I felt the author skipped over some areas that were pretty important to the story. When Isaboe falls sick with the fever and is thought to be dying, the subsequent chapter switches to Froi's point of view and glosses right over her recovery, which left a lot of things about that situation unclear. Additionally, the taking of Lumatere was really disappointing as the entire storyline built up to it and then it was barely explained due to also being detailed in a chapter from a character's point of view, rather than descriptive narrative. I found this really lacking for such an integral part of the story and it came across as just lazy to me. The entire plot hinged upon about the idea of reclaiming Lumatere, and then basically all that was said about it was that Finnikin felt ill when they went into battle. It was just missing so much in terms of description and detail. There could have been so much more said about this, from strategy to unexpected events to tragedy. It was the one major plot detail that I could not overlook.
Overall, I feel lukewarm about this book; I liked the plot overall and found it to be mostly interesting, but my main criticisms were with such foundational pieces of the book that I didn't feel really satisfied by any part of it.
The description of this book sounded so promising. But, the two main characters are so lame that it was hard for me to enjoy the book at all. It didn't help that the way the narrator read made them seem even more childish. I didn't finish the book which I'm pretty sure I have never done before. If there are going to be situations in a book that are for adult/older audiences, the characters need to be relatable to adults, not preteens. The bipolar back and forth between the two lead characters was incredibly annoying and took and enjoyment out of the story line for me. This was such a let-down and the narrator was TERRIBLE. I might have liked this better if I were 13 or so and if I read it rather than listened to it.
Im a good listener
It was weirding me out cause at times the narrator's voice sounded like certain characters on South Park. It was like Trey Parker was reading it.
This is NOT a grim dystopia-- thank goodness. Though I do love a number of books that are dystopian, i want to read a variety of fantasy stories. This story is inventive and enjoyable. And hopeful.
Speaking of grim, the precipitating event is very grim.
Mountain Cabin revelation
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