Subversive Reader Reviews: Finnikin of the Rock (AWW2013)

Book reviews and AWW posts can be found here.

AWW2013 – Book 7

Finnikin of the Rock

Adventures of a Subversive Reader: Finnikin of the Rock

Melina Marchetta
Young Adult Fantasy Fiction

Library Book: Borrowed From Bribie Island Library

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I’ve been reading Melina Marchetta books since Alibrandi came out and my mother pointed out that the author had the same first name as me (totally a reason to read a book!) But I’d skipped over this one, since fantasy is really not one of ‘my genres’. I have been coming around on this, though. In 2011, I devoured the Ranger’s Apprentice series (meeting the author, John Flanagan was a good reason to do this), and I enjoyed reading The Hobbit to my class in 2009. Generally, though, if there’s a map at the beginning of the book and it’s not historical fiction, then I generally give it a miss.

Since Finnikin cam out, though, I’ve had a number of people recommend it to me. And the Australian Women Writers Challenge, seemed like a pretty good kick up the bum to finally borrow it and read it. I can understand why it was recommended to me – there’s no dragons or trolls or dwarves or other complicated lore, which feel like you need a lifetime of reading fantasy to really ‘get’ and appreciate. However, there was deep magic and there was a map at the front of the book, which did make it feel like ‘one of those books I don’t read’ no matter how far I got into the story.

The story is about Finnikin, the son of  Trevanion, the head of the King’s Guard. After the Unspeakable, the royal family is destroyed and the kingdom of Lumatere is left entombed, while those who could escape were left as refugees, locked out of their own kingdom. Finnikin and Sir Topher (the King’s First Man) are left travelling around the rest of Skuldenore, gathering both names and stories from fellow refugees.

That is, until they are drawn to the strange novice, Evanjalin, who leads them on an adventure they never expected – along with the promise that she would lead them to a surviving member of the royal family. Along their journey they meet Froi, a young thief, before collecting the scattered members of their old kingdom who can help them make it strong again.

There were so many expectations with this story, since a number of people had recommended it to me. It was they style of fantasy I think I enjoy the most – more emphasis on different magic, politics and history and less on magical creatures. The magic was very clearly the magic of women, which at times jarred against the traditional male roles which were evident throughout the story. As much as I enjoyed Finnikin as a narrator and main character, it would have been fascinating to have more of an insight into the world of women in this world – because Finnikin is excluded, so are we, which reminds me of how much of ‘real’ history we are excluded from because no one wrote the women’s stories.

I don’t think I’ll be going out to buy the series, but I did enjoy reading it and I have borrowed the second in the series to read (though it’s huge!) I think those who enjoy fantasy would enjoy it, though – I would recommend this one to my sister, if she hasn’t read it already. I would recommend it to teenagers who are wanting to read fantasy, and I actually think this is a book that boys could get into as well, though the cover seems to be marketed towards female readers – I notice there’s some other editions out there with more gender neutral covers.

 

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