Finnikin of the Rock

Book review by
Debra Bogart, Common Sense Media
Finnikin of the Rock Book Poster Image
Riveting epic, but too complex, violent for younger teens.

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value
Positive Messages

Despite the horrific nature of the treason and ensuing wars, the power and redemption of hope is a strong theme. Compassion and forgiveness are also powerful themes. Compassion is shown to those wounded by violence and some royalty even forgive those raised to hate according to nationalism or religion. The spiritual damage done by war and hate are discussed in ethical ways that do not disregard human nature but also do not diminish it or excuse it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Set against a bleak, war-weary dystopia, the leading characters awaken from a decade of despair with a resilient power that inspires. Finnikin and his childhood friends honor their friendships, their people and those around them as equals, whether the same religion or culture or not. Loving marriages are also depicted, with soldiers being faithful to spouses that have been kept from them for a decade.


The king's wife and daughters are raped and slaughtered; soldiers control the people by raping women and children (descriptions are somewhat graphic without being explicit); religious persecution includes burning at the stake; and graphic battle scenes. The effects of this violence are also well depicted, both long-term and short-term.


Finnikin spends the night with a prostitute; references to a king and his queen making love and being overheard; Finnikin an Evanjalin kiss.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some references to drinking mead and drunkeness.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this epic fantasy has mature themes and depictions of violence in a war-torn dystopia that make it better for more mature teen fantasy readers. And the complexity of the fantastic story -- multiple kingdoms, politics, a large cast of characters -- will turn away less experienced readers, as well. Despite the undercurrent of darkness, with killings, wartime rapes (somewhat graphic without being explicit), burnings at the stake, and graphic battle scenes, the compassion and strength of the young main characters shine through, as do themes of hope, redemption, and forgiveness.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byPolly W. May 13, 2018


I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even though it’s recommended for teens and I’m a 40 yr old woman, It gave me very good vibes!
Parent of a 13 and 16-year-old Written bystuhlly January 9, 2016
Slow and hard to understand at first. But very good!!
Teen, 14 years old Written byBookworm_96 August 11, 2011

Good book!

i loved this book. at first, it was boring and i wanted to walk away, but it became really good and i loved reading it. Evanjalin is a strong minded and a very... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bybookworm29 July 4, 2010

Hard to get into, but AMAZING

It was a little hard to get into, and a little difficult to understand, because it's set in an entirely different world. At the beginning, there is little... Continue reading

What's the story?

At the age of 9, Finnikin has a prophetic dream that leads him to make a pledge with his two best friends; one of them a prince, the other the prince's cousin. Then the entire royal family is brutally slaughtered by a new king who also burns those who worship a different goddess, eliciting a curse that raises a wall and imprisons the new king and those left behind in Lumatere, and plunges the other half into refugee camps and despair. At 19, Finnikin is still searching for a new homeland for those exiles. Led to a young mystic called Evanjalin, she convinces Finn and his mentor that the true heir of Lumatere still lives. Their quest to restore the rightful heir and thus defeat the curse separating them from their homeland leads to unexpected reunions and many dangerous battles for Finn as they raise troops. Evanjalin is a Joan of Arc-type heroine whose lies are as troubling as her powers, and as Finn falls in love with her he finds himself forced to choose between the country he fled and his own future.

Is it any good?

Political intrigue, epic adventures, and characters who sometimes struggle to do the right thing but who long to live up to their ideals and those of their families are brilliantly realised. Marchetta eloquently articulates the damage caused by violence to those who experience it, and the necessity of recognizing and repairing that damage with compassion and hope. Mystery, young love, great family relationships, unusual cultures, and compelling characters combine to create an epic that will be read repeatedly by fantasy lovers and will hook other readers with its interplay of darkness and light. Rich and complicated, with humor, wisdom, and surprising plot turns, this story also raises provocative moral issues, just as the best epic fantasies have always done.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what drives Finnikin and his mentor to travel the world for 10 years. What keeps them from giving up the search for a new homeland for the other exiles?

  • What inspired the pledge that Finnikin made with his two best friends at the age of 9? What inspired their culture to raise their children to hold such devotion to their country? Was it religion? Or cultural values? What were those values?

  • As Finnikin and Evanjalin travel back to Lumatere they are reunited with many loved ones. Which revelation was the most surprising? Evanjalin has hidden many things about herself. What was the source of her strength, do you think?

Book details

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