Finniken of the Rock
In her fantasy novel, Finnikin of the Rock, Melina Marchetta paints a world filled with fear, violence, and despair. Finnikin and his band of stragglers from the fictitious medieval kingdom of Lumitair, search for the lost heir to the throne, as they unravel the mystery of what actually happened during the fateful night in Finniken’s childhood that is referred to only as “The Unspeakable.” During this defining moment in the recent past the royal family of this peace-loving kingdom was slaughtered and the kingdom overrun. Accompanied by his mentor and guardian, Sir Tofur; Evagaline, a young religious novice with the gift of “walking” in the dreams of others; a young thief named Froy, and Finnikin’s father whom the band rescues from the mines where he has been imprisoned for most of Finnikin’s life, Finnikin’s must gather the dispersed and destitute refugees from Lumitair and find the lost heir who is believed to be still alive but imprisoned in the cursed castle. Finniken must prove his worth as he struggles with the same prophecy’s warning about him: that the heir must shed his own blood in order for Finnikin to become the king. With a practiced eye, Marcetta also deftly inserts a touch of romance and a bit of magic that adds a layer of tension to an otherwise standard quest adventure.
Filled with language fraught with double entendres, and more than few overt references to sex, as well as the special vulnerabilities that women and children suffer in wartime, the story might prove disturbing and confusing for younger readers. The violence and objectification of women as sex partners, an integral part of the emotional core of the story, are truthfully and honestly related. While magic and mysticism figure heavily in the plot, the more realistic aspects of the book lend the story a layer of verisimilitude and truth that make this story more an allegory for modern day geopolitics than a true fantasy novel. This is not a light adventure story but for the reader interested in the genre, it is well worth reading.
SS = Sex, VV= Violence