Finnikin of the Rock is the first book in Australian author Melina Marchetta’s Lumatere Chronicles. Since the book’s release in 2008, it has been regarded as “dark and beautiful and utterly believable,” by such groundbreaking author’s as Kristin Cashore, creator of the famous Graceling series, and by countless others as “the next Game of Thrones.”
Let’s make one thing very clear, very quickly. Sadly, this particular novel is unworthy of such high praise.
Though not a bad book, the plot follows very closely in the tradition of most generalized fantasy fiction of its time. It’s centered around the main protagonist Finnikin, The Chosen One, The One Who Would Be King. Alongside his loyal mentor, Sir Kristoffer, the mysterious and beautiful acolyte, Evangeline, and the young slave boy Froi, which they pick up along the way, the impetus 15-year-old sets off on a quest to restore his cursed kingdom to its former greatness, find the last tendrils of the scattered monarchy, and claim his rightful place as captain of the Kingsguard.
From there, the novel treads the same traditional, predictable lines of The Hero’s Journey, in much the same vein as such famous high-fantasy names as Tolkien, Brandon Sanderson, and Christopher Paolini, (though notably without the necessary expansive detail that kept these novels engaging even through the droller parts). This leaves readers with but a vague interest in the continuation of the story, if only for nostalgia’s sake, in no doubt or overwhelming suspense that in the end the brave hero Finnikin will survive the end of his narrative arc, win the girl, and fulfill his true destiny, if not necessarily in the way be expects.
Engaging at times and interesting, Melina Marchetta’s Lumatere Chronicles, though entertaining, provide no new twists to the trope of the Hero’s Journey (or any other of the multitude of tropes littered without the book). The novel proposes no new questions which challenge fantasy ideals, or seeks to deviate from the traditional narrative her protagonist follows. This all but cementes the Lumatere Chronicles as but another “meh” in the crockpot of high fantasy fiction.