“You list the dead. You tell the stories of the past. You write about the catastrophes and the massacres. What about the living, Finnikin? Who honors them?”
― Melina Marchetta, Finnikin of the Rock
Synopsis: Finnikin of the Rock and his guardian, Sir Topher, have not been home to their beloved Lumatere for ten years. Not since the dark days when the royal family was murdered and the kingdom put under a terrible curse. But then Finnikin is summoned to meet Evanjalin, a young woman with an incredible claim: the heir to the throne of Lumatere, Prince Balthazar, is alive.
Evanjalin is determined to return home and she is the only one who can lead them to the heir. As they journey together, Finnikin is affected by her arrogance . . . and her hope. He begins to believe he will see his childhood friend, Prince Balthazar, again. And that their cursed people will be able to enter Lumatere and be reunited with those trapped inside. He even believes he will find his imprisoned father.
But Evanjalin is not what she seems. And the truth will test not only Finnikin's faith in her . . . but in himself
Being an epic fantasy, Finnikin of the Rock is completely outside of the genres I usually read. I had previously seen the blog Sash and Em gushing about this book on Twitter so when I spotted the audiobook at the library I was confident I would enjoy it. The world created in this novel has so much terminology, so let's hope I get them all right
After the assassination of the royal family and rouge uprising, in an incident known as the Unspeakable the once peaceful kingdom of Lumatere is cursed and locked away. Half the Lumaterens are trapped inside and other half scattered across the neighboring kingdoms to live as exiles; forced to survive fever, refugee camps and the bloody rage of their neighboring kingdoms.
As son of the imprisoned captain of the guard and best friend to murdered Prince Balthazar, Finnikin has always felt a certain responsibility to help lead his people to a place they can call home. Traveling with his guardian Sir Topher, they've spent the last 10 years since the Unspeakable trying to find a second Lumatere. When Finnikin awakes from a dream that leads him to a temple and a novice girl named Evanjilin, a new Lumatere is suddenly closer for Finnikin than he ever imagined.
This story is extremely epic in scope as we travel with Sir Topher, Evanjilin and Finnikin across the different kingdoms. Marchetta has brilliantly created a nuanced and political society for her characters to inhabit. I found the relationships and politics between the different kingdoms to be the most interesting aspect.
There is a lot of heavy thematic material that did begin to weigh on me after a while. While there is always that undercurrent of hope, there is also a lot of genocide, disease, rape and murder. I mean it's not on every page or gratuitous but when those parts come up, Marchetta doesn't hold back, which is something I'd definitely prepare someone who wants to read this for. I think because of the content in this book it felt very dense. It is only 428 pages and I felt like I had been listening to it forever.
The audiobook is narrated by Jim Cummings, who is probably more commonly known as the Hyena is the Lion King. With the diversity in his voices, Cummings does an excellent job of bringing the story to life. When you have so many male characters, it is interesting how he would modulate his voice for each one.
This is my first experience with epic fantasy and a book I would recommend for anyone looking for a grittier YA. While I can see the appeal of the genre, I don't know if it's for me or if I'll finish the other books in the series.
Finnikin of the Rock is a beautifully done epic fantasy, with a fantastic audiobook about the meaning of home and the power of never losing hope.