Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

finnikinCindy: I’m embarrassed to tell you how many months Lynn has been waiting for me (euphemism for “nagging me”) to read Finnikin of the Rock (Candlewick 2010). I knew it was a complex political fantasy that would take some concentration and I had planned to sink into it last summer, but life had other plans. So, I just read it on audio and am eager to reread it in print. Summarizing the plot is not simple, so let me crib from Lynn’s starred Booklist review of the title, “Ten years before the story’s start, assassins crept into the kingdom of Lumatere and murdered the royal family, with the possible exception of Balthazar, heir to the throne. As rumors circulated that Balthazar survived, a mystic cast a curse that created a magical barrier around the kingdom and prevented thousands who had fled from returning.” You should click on the link of the title above  to read the rest of the review. Finnikin and his guardian follow a young woman, Evanjalin, who claims to know where Balthazar is and who is eager to return to Lumatere to bring the exiled people home and to free those imprisoned inside.  Considering that this is Marchetta’s first foray into the fantasy genre, I can’t wait for her to continue. This has many of the strengths of Megan Whalen Turner’s Thief series, with the political intrigue, the great characters, creative intelligent plotting, the complicated romantic relationship, and the depth of theme. Already a winner of a few awards in Australia when it was published there in 2008, I’m hoping to see a shiny sticker on this one in the U.S. as the 2011 awards are handed out. And, careful readers will note I’ve given this post a “Listen to Lynn” category tag. Why don’t I learn?

Lynn: It’s true, I’ve been nagging Cindy about this book ever since I read it last spring.  And people – with two sons, three young grandsons, a step-grandson and a preoccupied husband, I have a LOT of practice with nagging!  Finnikin has been in my top five since then too and I’m like Cindy in thinking it is award-worthy.  I’m generally a plot-driven reader and this intricate red-herring laden plot had me from the start.  I spent a lot of time thinking I’d figured out what was really going on only to turn a page and discover that I had guessed wrong again.  Marchetta plays fair and all the clues are there but she had me upside down and inside out through most of the book – and that ah ha moment when I finally discovered the truth was SO amazing.  But as much as I loved the plot, the characters and the richly relevant thematic explorations were even stronger elements for me.

This is a book that requires and deserves careful attention.  You can’t read this during the commercials of Glee or while keeping one eye on Facebook and really appreciate it.  If you haven’t read it yet, wait till you have some quiet time to sit back and savor it.  You’ll be glad you did.  And Cindy…now that you’ve finished Finnikin I’ve got a few more to “remind” you about.  😉

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

2 Comments on "Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta"

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  1. brittanykwilson@gmail.com' Brittany Wilson says:

    I also loved this book when I read it at the beginning of the summer! Glad to see Cindy finally caught up. I finally read ‘The Amulet of Samarkand’, so we’re both on the right track now, haha!

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