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.