March 2, 2013

Lumatere Chronicles Read-along: Finnikin of the Rock, Week 3 + 4

(For more about the read-along, click here!)

It's hard to believe that merely a month ago, I had not yet read the goodness that is Finnikin of the Rock. I'd been hearing about The Lumatere Chronicles from many other bloggers, but hesitated to pick it up for myself. Now that I finally have, and have reached the end of the first book, I must say these two things: (a) Melina Marchetta is supremely talented and (b) I NEED MORE. Thank goodness that we'll be moving on to Froi of the Exiles next month!

Here are my answers to the discussion questions that have been posted for last week and this week. As always, many thanks to the amazing Hannah, who is hosting the read-along and came up with all these fabulous questions.

(Note: There may be spoilers for those of you who have not read Finnikin of the Rock!)


1. Did the comments about how Froi feels calm when the duke’s wife hugs him and how he wonders if anyone had ever looked at him the way Trevanion looks at Finnikin seem notable to you? 

Honestly, I am so truly excited that the next book is going to be about Froi. There was certainly a lot of character growth from when we first meet him in the novel up until this point, and I appreciate the fact that we could see it happening right in front of our eyes. It's certainly going to be interesting to learn more about Froi - his past and his future - in the next installment.

These two particular moments that are mentioned were definitely key moments for Froi in this book. We get a glimpse of his vulnerability here, and it really served as a starting point for me to begin to regard him differently. I love that each moment just brings to mind parents/parental figures in particular, and I wonder at the significance of the lack of that in Froi's life.

2. Were you struck by either of these two statements, one from Evanjalin and one from Trevanion, in light of our discussions about omitting information? “There are different types of truth, Froi.” / “The queen omits rather than lies, Finnikin. For a purpose. One that will humble us each time.” 

Honestly, Evanjalin certainly still omits so many important things. When things would come to light, I would hate her for just the briefest of moments, before I would try to understand her choice to omit things. I value honesty a lot, so it's difficult for me not to be irritated by Evanjalin's "omissions", but in the end, she did what she felt needed to be done at all moments in time and I just can't fault her for that.

I certainly believe that there are all kinds of truth out there. For instance, what might be true for me may not necessarily be true for you - and therein lies a conundrum. Is there such a thing as absolute, irrevocable truth?

3. What did you think about Evanjalin and Finnikin’s conversation about measuring loss? 

Loss is a difficult thing, truly. There's no way to measure one loss against another, as losing anything really just is painful and horrifying and hurtful and sad. I love how Evanjalin really makes it a point to say that no one loss is greater than another. Loss is really a concept that everyone can understand, regardless of what precise kind of loss was experienced.

4. Were you surprised to learn that Balthazar was dead, or had you suspected all along? 

This might be odd, but I never really thought Balthazar was alive. Sure, I tried to hope for Finnikin's sake (since he seemed so preoccupied with that), but I just knew from the start that he hadn't survived. It would have been, of course, wonderful if he had. But then things would have turned out differently, wouldn't they?

5. What did you think of Froi after he decides to follow Evanjalin and tries to claim he’s Balthazar when they are captured? 

Again, as I've said, we really see Froi transforming during moments like these. I love that he has this utter faith in following Evanjalin, a faith that allows him to believe that accompanying her is the right thing for him to do. And when he claims he is Balthazar, I was overwhelmed by feelings of joy - Froi had some level of compassion and concern for Evanjalin after all! I think it's very touching that he'd sacrifice his own life (in a way) to do something like that for another person.

6. Did you like how the scene where Finnikin reunites with Lucian mirrors Trevanion reuniting with his Guard? 

I never would have thought about the parallels of these two reunions if you hadn't mentioned it! But now that you have, I can honestly say that I love it. I love that Finnikin has his own grand reunion with one of his closest friends, and though Lucian rubbed me the wrong way (a bit), I was happy that they were finally together again. If only Balthazar could have been there too!

7. Evanjalin’s true identity is revealed! Were you shocked by the truth, and did the story of how she survived break your heart? 

I had suspicions that Evanjalin wasn't who she was saying she was but it never occurred to me that she was Isaboe! I really believed that Isaboe was dead, based on Finnikin's thoughts and memories, and it never occurred to me to think otherwise.

Obviously, since I had no idea, the truth completely blindsided me. When the story of how she survived was told, it broke my heart into bits and pieces. There's so much pain there... and so much love too.

8. Did you notice the recurring theme of identity becomes an issue for Finnikin after Evanjalin’s identity comes to light? “He knew how to be Finnikin of the Rock to Evanjalin of the Monts. But he had no idea who to be to Queen Isaboe.” 

It's interesting how identity does become a part of Finnikin's thoughts after Evanjalin's revelation. He certainly grapples with the reality of who he is and who she is in the light of everything, past and present. Personally, it's one of the things that helped make Finnikin's journey even more interesting.

9. What did you think of Evanjalin’s reasoning that she didn’t tell Finnikin everything, not because she didn’t love or trust him, but because she need him to choose his path? 

I am so very frustrated with Evanjalin at many moments in this book. This question reminds me of one particularly big issue that I had with her, which is her omission of things. On the one hand, I really, really think that honesty plays an important role in any sort of relationship. Having the truth as a foundation only makes things stronger; in their case, perhaps Finnikin would have been able to help her or to come a quicker conclusion.

However. I will agree that there's some importance to allowing Finnikin to choose his path. Instead of feeling forced into action, Finnikin was able to decide for himself that this was what he wanted to do. Learning how to make important choices like that, and having no outside influence to sway you, is very important indeed.

10. Give me some clarity: did Trevanion really see Beatriss and their child alive in Lumatere? If so, why did she just walk away from him? 

Since I'm answering this slightly late, I will say this: for a few seconds after they saw each other, I really thought the child had survived and all would be well. But then my logic kicked in and my heart broke thinking Beatriss had married another and had a child with that person instead.


1. What did you think about Trevanion and Beatriss’ reunion where they meet and shake hands? When Trevanion learns what Beatriss suffered? And when he promises to wait for her? 

I felt so awkward for Trevanion and Beatriss when they shook hands. Having heard of their epic love story from back in the day, I really, really wanted them to have an equally epic reunion. Their love sounded so strong and so true to me, and that moment (the shaking of hands) shattered everything.

When Trevanion finally finds out what Beatriss went through during the years they were apart, I wanted to tear my hair out and wail in despair. No one should have had to go through such horrible things. But it also made me very proud to see that she was recovering from the horror, and that Beatriss had chosen to be brave and move on with her life.

My heart was put back together when they shared that moment and he said he would wait for her. Even though it wasn't exactly what I wanted for them (since I wanted their happy ending), considering the circumstances, it was perfection.

2. Did you notice how Evanjalin/Isaboe is the one to break the curse, but Finnikin in the one to break the years of silence? 

I actually had to stop and think about what this meant, as it honestly didn't occur to me right away. But that's a really awesome thought! Isaboe really does break the curse and open the way back into Lumatere, but it is Finnikin who finally gets the people to start talking about what had happened in the years since the curse began when he records their stories. Teamwork, I tell you.

3. Since we talked previously about the blood curse and what was happening to the daughters of Lumatere, how did you feel about the revelation about what was going on inside its walls? 

I just could not get over my horror at this very thing. There was such despair and desperation in the actions of those trapped within the walls; I could feel it even though they were just rehashing the past. But still, what was going on within the walls of Lumatere before the curse broke was just completely horrifying and tragic to me.

4. In light of last week’s discussion on identity and Finnikin trying to figure out who he is in relation to Isaboe, what did you think about his conversation with Beatriss about choosing Isaboe versus her choosing him? 

Beatriss always seemed like Finnikin's second mother to me, and I like that she was able to make him reflect and see things in a different light. It's important to always have people who can challenge your perspective on things, and perhaps guide you in the right direction - and that's what I feel Beatriss did for Finnikin.

5. How did you feel about the deaths of the impostor king and his men – and Evanjalin/Isaboe’s role in it? 

I wanted the impostor king and his men were supposed to die, so it didn't truly bother me when they were found dead. I didn't realize, however, that there was all this detail surrounding the reasons why they were kept alive and if I had, I might have reconsidered.

Again, Evanjalin is acting on her own here and doesn't let anyone, particularly Finnikin, in. While I think her course of action makes her a strong ruler, it bothers me how she didn't tell anyone what she planned or why.

6. Names and their importance have been a recurring theme in Finnikin of the Rock, so were you struck by Beatriss’ story of the birth of her first child? 

Beatriss' story about the birth of her child made me sad. But I loved that she spoke the child's name, and the names of their little family. There's some special significance in knowing who you are, even if you don't live long enough to embrace it.

7. Were you struck by the conversation Froi has with Perri, Trevanion and Moss where he reveals that he would die for Evanjalin and Finnikin? 

And this is where my love for Froi just turned deep and steady! I loved hearing him say that he would be willing to sacrifice his own life for Evanjalin and Finnikin, as it says something about his compassion and concern for them. It shows me that he does have a heart, and that even though it's taking a little time to fully come out, it's there.

8. Since we’ve talked in the past about empathy and power, what do you think about Tesadora telling Finnikin he alone has the power to bring Isaboe out of the darkness because of his strong empathy for her? 

I like how, even though Isaboe is fiercely independent and stubborn and keeps her own counsel, she still needs Finnikin's help in the darkness. That says something very significant about their relationship - that it's not just a matter of her loving him, but it also includes the fact that he is the only one who can keep her safe. 

9. What did you think of the “If I” / “If you” back-and-forth between Finnikin and Queen Isaboe? 

I thought this was so wonderful! While I certainly don't think that they managed to resolve everything between them, a few important things were brought up during this particular conversation. The style in which they had it was fun to read, if I'm being honest, and I thought it was very interesting how they each attempted to have the upper hand. Their marriage is certainly going to never be boring.

10. Did you notice the repeating use of the “choose a hand” scene? I was swooning over the last scene when Anna pointed out that it was the third appearance of that motif.

I had to read Hannah's answer to this before I could remember all three moments - and it was worth it. Because honestly, this recurring theme is just beautiful! I love that there's special significance for each moment that they held hands.

And that concludes the discussion for the first book in The Lumatere Chronicles, Finnikin of the Rock. We'll be continuing on with the series, and Froi of the Exiles (!) is up next!


  1. I know I'm so late to comment on this post, Alexa, so my apologies! But you shared so many great thoughts (and I'm seriously so glad you're participating in this read-along).

    My favorite line from your comment this week is when you said, "There's some special significance in knowing who you are, even if you don't live long enough to embrace it." <-- This just really struck a chord with me. What lovely phrasing, lady!

    1. No problem! I'm just glad that I was able to post it. And I love that you enjoyed that line :)


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