- Yutland: a savage country, full of barbaric peoples, with a rather guttural language.
- Belegonia: a cultured and much more civilised country, the capital has a very cosmopolitan air to it and the people seem to be highly educated.
- Osteria: contains a mix of peoples – perhaps a common destination for refugees from Lumatere?
- Charyn: a dry and rocky country to the east of Skuldenore.
- Sarnak: a land to the north of Skuldenore, very poor – this is where Finnikin and Evanjalin find Froi.
- Sorel: a very rough place, where the prison mine is located.
From the description of Lumatere in its hey-day, it sounds idyllic and seems to represent the ‘perfect’ kingdom: accepting of all, beautiful landscapes, bountiful harvests, a fair and good ruler, happy citizens.
“For a moment he allowed his memory to take him down a road lined with vineyards and olive trees. It was one he had travelled often with his father. Each time, he would climb the ridge overlooking the Valley of Tranquility and see the kingdom of Lumatere spread out before him. Villages of cobblestoned roads that rang with the sound of hooves, meadows lush with flowers, huts lined up along a river that snaked through the kingdom and pulsed with life… He could see his village in the Rock, his uncle’s smokehouse, where meat and fish hung from the ceiling, and the quarry where he would take Balthazar and Isaboe… And there, in the distance, the king’s palace, perched up high, overlooking their beloved people inside the kingdom walls and those outside in the Forest of Lumatere.” — page 49-50
Tarry a little; there is something else.
This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood;
The words expressly are ‘a pound of flesh’
Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh;
But, in the cutting it, if thou dost shed
One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods
Are, by the laws of Venice, confiscate
Unto the state of Venice.
The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene I
Both feature a character who may be hiding secrets, and a character called Balthazar.
This post is part of The Journey Home, a celebration of the Lumatere Chronicles hosted by Bookish Whimsy and A Novel Idea.
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.