I read. I read. I read.
Finnikin of the Rock - Melina Marchetta There aren’t enough stars in this rating system to do this book justice. I’m a lifelong reader and there have only been a handful of books that gave me the feelings I had when I was reading Finnikin of the Rock. This author has a special gift and a brilliant talent for telling a story with all the necessary emotion, imagery, and intelligence that is needed to transport her reader into the world she’s created.Finnikin grew up in a blessed kingdom with his best friends and loving family. A pledge he made with his best friends – the prince and the king’s cousin - when he was nine has haunted him the past ten years. The beloved kingdom of Lumatere has been decimated, the royal family slaughtered, and an impenetrable curse has been placed on the gates to the kingdom. Finnikin and his companion, Sir Topher, have taken a young novice into their care based on her promise that she has seen the future and it contains a king for their nation and a resurrection of their heritage. The travels, trials, and victories that come throughout the story will take your breath away.The world-building that takes place in this story builds slowly. The author provides enough description and build-up to keep the story moving but avoids boring the reader. The maps at the front and back of this book were extremely helpful and I found myself referencing them several times. The words of the curse thrown out by a powerful woman on the fire pyre are repeated more than once. I reread the curse as the book progressed and understood more and more. The narration of the story, told in third person, allowed the perspective of varying characters. Well-crafted and nuanced, the romance between Finnikin and Evanjalin – the novice – was slow to build and sweetly sincere.About Evanjalin…this is the heroine that I’ve wanted to find in so many of these fantasy books. A mystery in the beginning, all that Evanjalin has suffered unfolds in stunning detail. She is a strong, willful, intelligent woman with a heartbreaking insight into Lumatere. She sacrifices her happiness and safety more than once for the good of the people. The cutting humor she employs at times serves her character well. A wonderful example: Last night you lay pressed against me, Finnikin. I could…feel that sleep was the last thing on your mind. Speaking of Finnikin, the man he has become is the result of the love his father, the fierce and loyal leader of the king’s guard. Living without his father the past 10 years, Finnikin has been blessed to benefit from the guidance of Sir Topher, the king’s First Man. Our hero is a sensitive, intuitive, strong man who carries the weight of the belief that he is responsible, in part, for the horrors that have befallen Lumatere. A child’s wish to be king was perhaps too strong, or so Finnikin thinks.All of the characters in this book – from Froi the nasty exile to Perri to Tesadora and beyond – are given the life they need to sustain the story. Saying more about the plot would spoil the genuine joy you will experience as unfold this layered tale. Suffice it to say that the dark magic, the light, the history, and the wealth of emotion contained in this novel have created a fantasy that stands strong.I will say this about the ending - BEST ENDING EVER.Please read this book. I intend to do so again and again.