Book Cover Image:
Image Credit: Campbell County Public Library. (2015) http://www.ccpls.org.
Finnikin is a young man whose father was captain of the King’s Guard in their beloved homeland of Lumatere. Following a coup by a neighboring lord, Lumatere is placed under a curse that isolates the country from the outside world. Finnikin, his father, and several others have been living in exile for a decade, waiting for a chance to save their country. Hope comes in the form of a strange girl, Evanjalin, who claims that Finnikin’s friend and heir to the throne, Balthazar, is still alive. Evanjalin has a strange power: she can “walk the sleep” of others – in other words, share in their dreams. She uses the information she discovers, as well as her own boldness, to push events to a climax so that Lumatere can finally be freed. In doing so, Evanjalin has to hide her own secrets, however — secrets that will affect Finnikin and the entire country if discovered.
APA Reference of Book:
Marchetta spins a tale of a land torn apart by war, betrayal, and slavery, and of characters who are attempting to heal and restore their people. The complex plot line flows smoothly as Marchetta’s intelligent writing style weaves disjointed characters and events into a unified novel. One common element of high fantasy missing from Marchetta’s work is the presence of monstrous creatures; instead, the evil forces in this novel have human faces. In that way, even though the setting and some of the characters’ abilities are fantastic, the themes are powerfully real, and pertinent to both historic and current events. Be aware that, because so many of the story events are based on real-world happenings, all types of human brutality occur in this story; it is one for more mature readers. This novel is the first of the Lumatere Chronicles; the sequels are Froi of the Exiles and Quintana of Charyn.
“A kingdom stolen and ravaged, a dark curse, a blood oath, and fierce love drive this sweeping fantasy set in an imagined feudal land. Since Lumatere was taken over by brutal enemies who slaughtered the royal family, Finnikin has wandered for ten years with his mentor, the king’s First Man, training in combat and diplomacy to prepare for a new Lumatere. An impenetrable black mist shrouds the kingdom, preventing their return, so Finnikin and Sir Topher seek a new land for the suffering Lumateran exiles. Then a strange message brings them to a cliff-top temple and a young novice, Evanjalin, who propels them on a journey fraught with danger but resolutely toward home. Revealing bits of her prophetic visions (but withholding other parts), Evanjalin both fascinates and infuriates Finnikin – a sure sign of romance – and readers will guess that she is more than a simple novice. Finnikin is a dashing hero (handsome, intelligent, a brilliant swordsman, and “no stranger to women”), but the mysterious Evanjalin is the stronger leader; their fateful love is entwined with the fate of the kingdom. A fully realized medieval world of bloody battles and dark mysticism, the fantasy is a clear allegory for the real-world atrocities of war, addressing sickness, hunger, violence, even rape. Swagger and swordplay among the men and tender moments between the young lovers lighten their hardships and hint at a hopeful ending.”
A central theme of this novel is exile. Introduce this novel to junior high and high school students by referring to current news stories that show exiles and refugees, then ask students to imagine not being able to live in their homeland. After posing this situation, give a booktalk about Finnikin of the Rock that focuses on the struggles of the Lumaterans to find and restore their homeland.