Finnikin of the Rock

Finnikin of the Rock

3.9 (43,306 ratings by Goodreads)
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3.9 (43,306 ratings by Goodreads)

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2008 Printz Award Winner Melina Marchetta crafts an epic fantasy of ancient magic, exile, feudal intrigue, and romance that rivets from the first page.

Finnikin was only a child during the five days of the unspeakable, when the royal family of Lumatere were brutally murdered, and an imposter seized the throne. Now a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere's walls, and those who escaped roam the surrounding lands as exiles, persecuted and despairing, dying by the thousands in fever camps. In a narrative crackling with the tension of an imminent storm, Finnikin, now on the cusp of manhood, is compelled to join forces with an arrogant and enigmatic young novice named Evanjalin, who claims that her dark dreams will lead the exiles to a surviving royal child and a way to pierce the cursed barrier and regain the land of Lumatere. But Evanjalin's unpredictable behavior suggests that she 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.
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Product details

  • 12-17
  • Paperback | 416 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 27mm | 425g
  • Cambrudge, MA, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 1-COLOR
  • 076365292X
  • 9780763652920
  • 26,771

Review quote

Magic, romance, intrigue, and adventure all play their parts as this dense, intricate epic unfolds, and flawed, memorable heroes fight for their kingdom's redemption.
--Publishers Weekly (starred review) 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 (starred review) Readers will be rewarded by a shining story of romance, adventure in all of its gritty realism, and high ideals.
--School Library Journal (starred review) Marchetta transforms what could be just another epic quest into an innovative fantasy; it's driven almost entirely by the intense relationships among its multidimensional characters, giving the readers a unique perspective on the Lumatere situation as both a personal and political crisis.
--Bulletin of the Center of Children's Books (starred review) This fantasy has it all -- magic, intrigue, bloodshed, and romance. . . the plot and the characters are complex and truly believable.
--Library Media Connection (starred review) Standard fantasy characters people this book, but they develop in surprising, non-stock ways. . . . Fantasy readers will enjoy the rousing and complex plot, filled with political intrigue and frequent red herrings and dotted with abductions, arrests and close escapes from a variety of dangers.
--Kirkus Reviews A fully realized medieval world of bloody battles and dark mysticism, the fantasy is a clear allegory for the real-world atrocities of war, addressing sickness, hunger, violence, even rape. Swagger and swordplay among the men and tender moments between the young lovers lighten their hardships and hint at a hopeful ending.
--The Horn Book A wonderful engrossing reading experience with strong characterizations and a rich fully realized setting Marchetta is a marvelous storyteller.
--BookPage A magical, memorable story that will not soon leave you. If you like your protagonists (both male and female) smart and strong, and you like your romance heart-stopping, this is the book for you.
--Shelftalker (PW blog)
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About Melina Marchetta

Melina Marchetta is the acclaimed and multi-award-winning author of Jellicoe Road, a Michael L. Printz Medal winner, Saving Francesca, and Looking for Alibrandi. She lives in Australia, where Finnikin of the Rock, her first fantasy novel, won an Aurealis Award.
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Rating details

43,306 ratings
3.9 out of 5 stars
5 37% (16,178)
4 33% (14,151)
3 18% (7,664)
2 7% (3,031)
1 5% (2,282)

Our customer reviews

I'm a HUGE fan of fantasy, always have been. Dragons, yes. Fairies, bring it. Strange new worlds, love it. But lately I've seen a trend in the fantasy books I read of gritty, realistic, political, and emotional stories that, even though they don't have the typical magical elements I usually look for in fantasies, are still highly enjoyable. I'm talking about books like A Game of Thrones, The False Prince, and this book, Finnikin of the Rock. While I had some qualms when reading this (no book is ever perfect), I was blown away by the realistic interpretation of what it meant to be a nation of refugees, something I hadn't read about in a fantasy book before. The Lumaterans have been expelled from their ancestral lands because of a curse after allowing an illegitimate ruler to ascend to the throne and cause a massacre. While there are various political machinations at work, what really shone for me was the portrayal of asylum-seekers in Finnikin of the Rock. I drew a lot of parallels while reading this book (I started actually about a month ago and slowly worked my way through it) with my experience in Greece, which has a lot of refugees and displaced people. Melina Marchetta definitely ramps it up a lot, but that definite sense of displacement and hopelessness is extremely prevalent and realistic from what I encountered in Athens. Finnikin, working for the previous king's First Man, is an emissary for the Lumaterans among the nations that they are forced to reside in. Some of these nations are benevolent and generous, others are cruel and deadly hosts. He writes down the experiences of these peoples in The Book of Lumatere. This act of giving a voice to the voiceless is of such importance in my field of study (anthropology), so I found this aspect of Finnkin's character to be particularly compelling (while other aspects were not so compelling). Melina is also not afraid to reject stereotypical character tropes. Evanjalin is the most conniving, ruthless, and strong out of the men she encounters. She calls out the other characters for their behaviour (especially Finnikin), and lies and schemes in order to obtain her goals, which she remains mysterious about for much of the book. I loved seeing a female character like this, totally dominating yet being herself. You can never tell if she's the good guy or the bad guy, and her brokenness is such breath of fresh air in YA fiction. Finnikin on the other hand is often lost, confused, arrogant, generous, and frankly, sometimes a complete a-hole. He grows, but at the end of the story, he isn't the perfect man, or even the perfect hero. I loved him for that, and I loved Melina for making him like that. The worldbuilding in particular was fantastic. I enjoyed learning about the different kinds of people living in the small kingdom of Lumatere, and their statuses after their expulsion. They all had their own subcultures and stereotypes of one another, but these differences marked their closeness as a large extended family rather than a kingdom. The other kingdoms were interesting to explore with the characters as they were forced to deal politically and violently with other countries and their military. Each of the countries had their own policy in treating the Lumaterans as well. I had a few difficulties really understanding what was going on at points, however. There are descriptions where the author explains something so vaguely in terms of the characters' feelings, or leaves things up to interpretation that I really would like to completely know, that I was often lost. Even at some points I would ask myself, what is going on?! But even this in itself was an interesting tool to really lose yourself in the characters' mindset. Instead of telling the reader how confused the protagonist is, Melina makes the reader as confused! So while this often worked, sometimes I just got really frustrated with not knowing at times what I was supposed to take away from a story, or a conversation, or even an action scene. I also felt kind of aimless in this type of confusion. It wasn't a streamlined plot, but rather twists and turns as new events happen, new characters are introduced, plans are rejected, or truths are discovered. I think that's why it took me so long to get through this book (despite the length), because there wasn't as much as a driving force. Lastly, I'm kind of at odds with the ending. I can't figure out if I loved it, or if I'm just meh. Usually I write this much either because I really dislike a book or if I absolutely love it. This time, I really liked it, but it wasn't quite at the level of "one of my favourite books of all time." If you love realistic and emotional fantasies that don't shy away from everyday or gory details (everything from menstruation to the plague...oh wait, isn't that the same thing?), then definitely pick up this book!show more
by Janita Van Dyk
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