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


5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

The bar was certainly set high for this one. Not only have Paola and Charlene been recommending it for a while, but I’ve read some fantastic Young Adult fantasy lately (Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, Kristin Cashore’s Graceling series). So I was actually a little nervous that I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as my friends, and be able to join in with all the fangirling – but it honestly exceeded my expectations!

From the beginning I loved the tone and flow of the story, and immediately felt this new fantasy world built up around me – but that is something I will go into more detail about towards the end of the month. Fantasy can be a difficult genre, with all those made-up names it can sometimes seem a little cheesy; Marchetta however, pulls it off wonderfully, with some fantastic character and place names, as well as back stories. Whilst a lot of this was conveyed to the reader through exposition, and telling rather than showing, I don’t feel like it made the story any less enjoyable. In fact I enjoyed listening to Topher or Trevanion tell the stories, imagining myself sat around a campfire with them, entranced by Lumatere’s past.

Not only does Marchetta exceed at building a fantasy world, but also at creating fantasy characters. Evanjalin, at first appearances meek and shy, is far more than she looks and completely takes the reader by surprise – and that moment is just the first of many. She is strong emotionally, which becomes more amazing as more of her past is revealed. As well as this she is also passionate, head-strong and logical, a driving force for Finnikin even when he doesn’t realise it. And speaking of Finnikin – I’ve not read many YA books with male main characters, so it made a nice change. The initial distrust between Finnikin and Evanjalin makes the blossoming relationship all the more interesting. The reader only ever knows as much about Evanjalin as Finnikin does, which is both frustrating and wonderful, when things are slowly revealed. There were also a couple of chapters told by Froi, a thief that ends up joining on the journey. He does not speak the same language as the others, but slowly learns, and his chapters reflect his language ability. They are told with much simpler language, with Froi describing something if he does not now how to say it, and a lack of dialogue. I thought this worked really well to portray a little understood character more effectively.

The plot progresses naturally, at a good pace. Finnikin et al are trying to reclaim their homeland by enacting a prophecy, and on the way encounter many problems and interesting characters. Friends are made, refound, lost. Enemies encountered, family rediscovered.

There was a battle scene towards the end that really could have done with more added to it – it felt like it almost skipped over the best bits, and was over far too quickly. However, that is the only complaint I can think of right now!

Finnikin of the Rock is more of a ‘realistic’ fantasy story, which I think is why it will appeal to many. The world in which it is set is not too different from our own about six hundred years ago, there is a distinct lack of mystical beings or creatures, and only a small amount of magic. But not only that, it is wonderfully written and has a fantastic cast of characters, as well as a story that has you continually rooting for them.

A definite recommendation for anyone who loves fantasy or fantastical tales.

Also, my favourite quote from the book:

“…the realisation of the prophecy spoken to him in the forest alongside a doomed princess, rejoiced that if he were to be king, he would make her his queen.” — page 238, Finnikin of the Rock

I read and reviewed this book as part of ‘The Journey Home’, an event created to celebrate The Lumatere Chronicles, organised by Charlene and Paola. Thank you for recommending this wonderful read, ladies! I’ll also be posting on the world-building in the book on 24th October.




13 thoughts on “Review: Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles #1) by Melina Marchetta”

  1. *sobbing profusely* I AM SO GLAD YOU LOVED IT KDJHFSKJDFHJSDI swear every time I recommend this to someone, it’s the scariest thing ever. I’m always horrified that they won’t like it. But you DID like it so now you have no choice but to be friends with me forever muahahahaLoved the point you made about how the reader only ever knows as much about Evanjalin as Finn does; this is so true and it’s pulled off so well. Of course, I can’t talk about Evanjalin because I’m extremely biased (she is my favorite character from the entire series). I pretty much just want to BE her. Also do you agree that this book contains one of the BEST proposals ever?? Can’t wait for your upcoming world building post! 😀

    1. I know the feeling, I’ve had that with a couple of books! I recommended The Fault in our Stars to my mum, and when she read it she didn’t even cry. I was shocked, haha!I like that in books – sometimes it’s good not to know too much. And yes, the proposal is so cute! =)

  2. Fantastic review! I think you make a great point on the nature of the fantasy world-building – it is integrated well into the story but it’s not overwhelming. And because the focus is so much on the characters it makes the world feel so realistic. I agree too about the battle scene – it did go by really fast, but it didn’t bother me, cause I was happy to get to more Evanjalin and Finnikin feels. 😀 Like Paola, I’m looking forward to your next post!

    1. Thanks Charlene =D I can’t wait to learn more about Skuldenore (and particularly Lumatere) in the other books.Need to get working on the other post!

  3. I’m glad you enjoyed this! This is one of my favorite series, and I love how it’s so emotional (Froi of the Exiles tore my heart to pieces) but never melodramatic. I completely agree that Evanjalin is so much more than she seems at first.As for the world-building, I thought the second book did a better job of coming up with a more cohesive and interesting world through the history and future of the two neighboring kingdoms.- Kritika @ Snowflakes & Spider Silk

    1. Ooh, didn’t realise you were a big fan of this one too =) And that’s good to know about the second book, hopefully I’ll get my hands on it soon.

  4. Great review! I just finished the book the other day and I felt the same way going into it. I didn’t think I’d like it as much as Paola and Charlene, but I’m glad I was wrong. The realistic nature of the story was what really appealed to me as well. I absolutely loved how the way the Lumatere exiles were treated in other kingdoms was almost like a commentary on how we treat immigrants and refugees around the world. The one scene where Finnikin is reflecting on how his people aren’t allowed to speak their mother tongue in other lands (if you’re in our land, you speak our language or nothing) and how once brave and mighty men were reduced to seemingly nothing and shamed, relying on their children to translate for them … it’s so familiar and real. I loved that.I also liked how Evanjalin was slowly revealed to us through Finnikin and I loved him as the main character. At first I thought it was strange that we would leave Finnikin’s POV for others, but it grew on me. Particularly with Froi. I thought his character development was great. Who would have thought I’d end up liking the little thief that tried to do very inappropriate things to Evanjalin as she slept?

    1. Thank you =) I know, I was surprised at how I had grown to like Froi too! He definitely matured as a character, and since one of the books is named after him I can only assume he grows even more. It’s always nice to find relatible fantasy!

  5. I absolutely ADORE Melina Marchetta and all of her books .. but somehow I’ve still yet to read this series. I think because it’s fantasy and I’m used to MM books being contemporary. Still, I have this book (as a hardback!) waiitng for me on my shelves and I’m very excited to read it. Soon. Ish. I hope.

    1. Ooh, I haven’t actually looked at any of her other books, so I didn’t realise this was the only fantasy series she’d written. You definitely need to then =)

  6. I’m glad that this one lived up to your expectations! I was pretty impressed with it myself and have been meaning to read sequels Froi of the Exiles and Quintana of Charyn for a while now. Hopefully soon.I do think that Finnikin of the Rock is a perfect transitional novel for those unsure about the high fantasy genre. Honestly I’ve read tons of high fantasies that still felt very realistic, mystical creatures and magic notwithstanding. But I do think this is good to show people not to simply believe stereotypes about this genre. 🙂

    1. Yep, I would definitely recommend it to those still on the edge about the genre. It’s not too heavy going, but it’s a wonderful fantasy world to immerse yourself in =)

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