Title: Finnikin of the Rock
Author: Melina Marchetta
Review Summary: It has all the elements a great epic fantasy should have without feeling cliched and the characters are impressively well developed.
Ten years ago the entire royal family of Lumatere was slain and the kingdom fell under a curse. Surrounded by an impenetrable magic barrier, half of her people remain trapped inside with an evil king and half wander the land outside as exiles. On the outside, Finnikin and his guardian Sir Topher have struggled to find a home for the Lumateren exiles, but when they meet an exile named Evanjalin who claims the heir to the throne is alive, they have to consider the possibility that they have a hope of returning home.
It could just have been too long since I’ve read an epic fantasy story, but I really reveled in all of the great but somewhat expected elements in this book. It never felt cliched to me; just like it was exactly what it should be. It struck me as the sort of story that my history-major friends who wish they lived in the middle ages would dream of living. It was epic. The actions of the characters affect the fate of countries Both great heroism and great sacrifice are called for. There were prophecies, curses, quests, missing heirs, and magic kingdoms. All of the elements a great epic fantasy needs were present and accounted for.
I think what kept all of this epicness from becoming over the top or cliched was the author’s amazing way with characters. All of the characters felt unique and three-dimensional. All had their strengths and their flaws. They didn’t always get along, but they did discuss their problems like human beings, instead of like frustrating characters in some young adult novel. They didn’t make their own problems. Even our hero is portrayed as very human and the author addresses some impressively modern gender role issues through his relationship with Evanjalin. Although this lacked some of the depth and world building you might see in a longer novel, overall I thought this was an incredibly impressive story with great characters.
This review was part of The Journey Home, a series of reviews and discussions of Finnikin of the Rock. You can find participants here. Thanks to Charlene at Bookish Whimsy and Paola at A Novel Idea for hosting!