Kathleen's Reviews > Finnikin of the Rock

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
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's review
Dec 22, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: young-adult
Read in December, 2010

Plot summary from School Library Journal:

Finnikin, son of the head of the King's Guard, has been in exile for a decade, after the violent takeover of his birthplace, Lumatere, by a usurper, followed by a curse by a priestess that has effectively shut the kingdom off from the outside world. He meets a mysterious young woman, Evanjalin, who claims that Finnikin's friend Balthazar, heir to the throne, is alive, and sets in motion a complex and stirring series of events that lead Finnikin to confront his destiny. Evanjalin uses her ability to "walk the sleep" of others, or share in their dreams, as well as her own boldness and sense of purpose, to push events to a climax so that Lumatere can be freed.

This is the first book I've read by Marchetta and I'm not sure I'll pick up any more by her. While this story had all the elements of a good fantasy, it was a slog for me. It was way too slow at the beginning, and in the middle, and I wondered if I'd be able to finish it. I didn't feel that the apprentice/mentor relationship between Finnikin and Sir Topher worked, and Finnikin's feelings for Evanjalin were fairly predictable. At times the story reveled in its grimness, with the oppressed suffering disease, torture, rape, slavery, child abuse, you name it. The bad guys were cardboard cutouts of evil and we never get to know them or see any side of them other than pure violence and despicable behavior. As such, I felt nothing when I learned their fate. At one point the group is forced to bring along a thief to keep him from betraying them, and his gradual turn to good is put forth as an example of the redemption of the lost years of Lumatere. But the point is ruined because the character's speech mannerisms are exaggeratedly uneducated to the point of distraction. A lighter touch there would have been sufficient without detracting from the story.

Another complaint of mine is with the magic system. This was not presented in any coherent manner, especially the enchantment of the land of Lumatere so that it was covered by a dark mist and the rivers ceased to flow. It never made sense to me, and the resolution was way too fast and easy for the enormity and duration of the curse holding it in place.

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