It’s Monday, March 12th! Do you know what that means? Tomorrow Froi of the Exiles (by Melina Marchetta) will be released here in North America! If you’ve stopped by the blog before you may have noticed that we absolutely love Melina Marchetta. We love her to itty bitty, how-is-one-person-so-awesome bits. And we wanted to do something super special for the release of Froi. And we thought we’d showcase all of her, awesome, amazing, wonderful books!

And we’ll be giving away a copy of Froi! And the week will end with a super special interview with Melina where she answered all of our questions and was just a lovely, classy lady.

We’re starting the week with our thoughts on Finnikin of the Rock! The first book in the Lumatere Chronicles. I think for a lot of us here at the blog, Finnikin of the Rock was the first book by Melina Marchetta that we ever read. And even if we like some of her other books better, it will always hold a very special place in our hearts.


I can’t remember the exact point that I fell in love with Finnikin. What I remember most clearly about this book is turning that last page and wishing, more desperately than I ever had before, that I could forget the whole book and read it for the first time again. As much as I love rereading books, there’s nothing like that first time you meet a character or a setting or a writing style and just fall completely in love. In this case it was all three and it was all at once. Or slowly. I don’t remember. Finnikin himself is so caring and intelligent and is obviously such a scholar even though he works hard at being a warrior just so he can be like his father. I love how much he respects and loves the women in his life. I love how many mother figures he adopts. A lot of time in fiction you see young males who have been separated from their parents adopt a lot of father figures, and Finnikin does that as well, but he has such positive female role models as well. It’s no wonder he ends up falling in love with such a brash, clever, strong woman himself.

One person who I gave this book to couldn’t finish it because, as she claims, she figured out the ending too easily and it wasn’t interesting to her. Now, almost everyone I talk to has figured out the ending rather easily. But…to me…it just doesn’t matter. The mysteries in the plot are minuscule in importance when compared with the relationships of the character. That’s what I care about. Finnikin and his father. Finnikin and Sir Topher. Finnikin and Evanjalin. Finnikin and Beatrice. Beatrice and Trevanion. Trevanion and Evanjalin. Their interactions and the slow forming of a family is what makes this book for me. I love each and every one of the characters.


I’ll admit, I wasn’t too sure about Finnikin when Caitlin first recommended it to me. It was my first Melina book and I’m not one for high fantasy/adventure books. I was intrigued with the male POV from a woman writer, though, so I gave it a shot. Honestly, I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but once I was into the story, I couldn’t put it down. Melina has the incredible ability to make even the most mundane things a person can do seem fascinating and somehow subtly work in deeper meaning when you least expect it.

When I finished Finnikin, I wanted to bow at altar of Melina Marchetta. It blew me away. While reading it I remember questioning some of her plot choices, but it all came together in the end. The characters, Finnikin especially, are rich in details and texture, even the secondary characters. I remember more about Sir Topher as a secondary character than I do a lot of main characters from books I’ve read. That’s how fleshed out these people are in this book. Seriously, it’s a wonderful book. You should read it.


I actually read two of Ms. Marchetta’s contemporary novels, Saving Francesca and Jellicoe Road, before Finnikin. I was blown away by her ability to transition from writing “break my heart in a million pieces, why don’t you?” contemporary fiction to creating such an intriguing fantasy world with this book.  Even with the genre shift, you still feel that “Marchettaness” with Finnikin that is present in her contemporary work. She just knows how to write really interesting people and share them with her readers in such a way that you can’t help feeling connected to them, whether they are in modern-day Sydney or in a mythical land.

While Finnikin is like the plots of Ms. Marchetta’s other books—primarily character driven—it is also an epic adventure. I really enjoyed watching the characters grow, but also the amazing tale that was unfolding. There is everything in this book: romance, treachery, mystery, battles, family and identity struggles, and I could go on and on. It’s a wonderful beginning to what I can only imagine will be a long-loved trilogy.


Finnikin, for me, was one of those books that left me spellbound for weeks when I’d finished it. I spent what seemed like an age after I had finally flipped the last page thinking about it, completely unable to even conceive of  trying to read another book. And, to this day, I think it is probably the most perfect YA fantasy novel that anyone has ever even dreamed of dreaming. This book just felt so masterfully planned and still so totally effortless, mainly because of the world building and the characters. Lumatere was so beautifully crafted that it was like a character on its own – it felt real – and the entire world that surrounded it was rich in detail (seriously, the words in this book are like a painting). The characters felt completely natural, both on their own and for their universe. I feel like I could meet Finnikin walking down my own street, and Isaboe too, but they also were a perfect product of this world that they inhabit. And then there’s the fact that I’ve never been so sure that two characters could conquer the world together as I am about those two. But it wasn’t just Finnikin and Isaboe (and I have rhapsodized about my love for the pair of them before). The entire supporting cast, from Froi to Sir Topherto Trevanion made this novel feel full of life and love and loss and sorrow and it made me feel pretty much all the feelings in the entire world. That’s the hardest thing to do in any fantasy novel, and Melina Marchetta made it seem like she could do it in her sleep. And then she went and did it again with Froi and there just aren’t words for how beautifully Finnikin set the groundwork for the series that follows it.

I think (and every time I re-read one of her novels I change my mind, but for now I’m going with this particular moment and this particular think), that Finnikin may be my favorite of Melina Marchetta’s books. That’s saying something for me because I’m pretty sure she could write a grocery list that would leave me a sobbing puddle of goo by the end. But what sets Finnikin apart for me is the hope it has . All of Marchetta’s books are an emotional roller coaster, and they all leave you a little wrecked by the end, but I think Finnikin put my pieces back together the best.

Stay tuned tomorrow for our review of Froi of the Exiles and how you can enter to win a copy.

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