Another book I’m not sure how to rate. I probably would have liked this book more if I hadn’t read it so soon after finishing Ursula K. Le Guin's Annals of the Western Shore trilogy. With the themes of that particular trilogy still fresh in my mind, this book pales in comparison. The reason for this is that Le Guin’s books and Marchetta’s novel both deal with the same themes. What Marchetta includes in one book, Le Guin explores in three, each book taking one major theme and expanding on it: gifts, heritage and religion…politics, war and the role of the conquered…society and the role of the slave. As I was reading Marchetta’s novel I kept wishing that she focused on some things more than others. For instance, I found the third section of this book dull and anticlimactic in comparison to the first two parts. It in effect regressed Finnikin’s character development, placing him emotionally back where he started, once again forcing the reader to witness his attempts to sort out his feelings and regain some emotional control—reinterpreting his understanding of his current place and situation. Instead of this personal focus, I would have rather read more about Tesadora and the novices or the priest-king’s work so we could have gotten a more complete picture of what was happening. I also wished Marchetta spent more time discussing how the blood bond between Evanjalin and the child was forged. I don’t completely understand or buy that one sentence explanation on page 362, especially since that child has no real blood relationship with the main characters.
I also thought those little moments of dirty fighting, i.e. hitting below the belt, and the uncouth language were unnecessary details. For me, it cheapened the book somewhat. At times as I was reading, when it felt like I was watching a good epic film, these little moments shifted that image, making me feel as if I was watching one of those low-budget made for TV Dungeons and Dragons films, with their focus on cheap laughs.
However, there were a few moments that I did love. My favorite part of the book is Chapter 19 in Part 2, the chapter told from Froi’s perspective. For me, that one little chapter had more emotional development than the whole book. I loved those little moments when Froi describes feeling emotions he doesn’t know how to describe…feelings he was deprived of as a young child—loyalty, fear of loss, anxiety and love. It was wonderful. I also loved how the book begins and ends. Like Terry Pratchett’s I Shall Wear Midnight, Finnikin of the Rock
begins where it ends: three people sitting on a roof, contemplating their future. There are subtle changes, though it makes the moment more poignant.
Overall a good book, though I wished I could have liked it more.