Heroines Who Rock: Evanjalin of the Monts from ‘Finnikin of the Rock’

Evanjalin of the Monts

Courtesy Simini Blocker

I’m not a huge fan of medieval fantasies (at least in print). I was strong-armed by my oldest brother to read “The Hobbit” as a child and resented him for it. I never went on to read “The Lord of the Rings.” While many of my childhood friends were reading “The Mists of Avalon,” I preferred contemporary or historical novels to the intricate world-building and politics of medieval epics.
Because of my lack of interest in the genre (with the exception of Kristin Cashore’s books), I had no compulsion to read Melina Marchetta’s “Finnikin of the Rock,” even though I absolutely adored her other four YA novels. Enter artist Simini Blocker, who enjoyed “Jellicoe Road” so much she decided to listen to the audiobook of “Finnikin” and immediately captured the character Evanjalin of the Monts — even before she perfected our literary crush Jonah Griggs.
There was something fierce and defiant about Simini’s take on Evanjalin. I felt mesmerized by the character, so before I could even process what I was doing, I bought the book on Kindle. To say I became immersed in it is an understatement. Although the book is (mostly) from the perspective of Finnikin, the central figure is actually the mysterious empath Evanjalin.
Who She Is: It’s hard to explain, but when we first meet Evanjalin, she’s described as a novice who has communicated in her sleep with Balthazar, the heir to the throne of Lumatere (who was thought dead). She breaks her vow of silence to tell the convent’s priestess that Finnikin of the Rock is coming for her (which he does, even though he doesn’t quite believe she can convene with Balthazar). Eventually Evanjalin speaks, and when she does, it’s obvious she knows much more about Lumatere than anyone can imagine. See, Lumatere is a kingdom divided — 10 years prior, the king and his five children were assassinated, and the king’s cousin installed. But a woman burned at the stake curses Lumatere, making it impossible for anyone who fled to come in and vice-versa. Evanjalin is the key to breaking the spell, if she can only convince Finnikin to abandon logic and follow her instincts.
Why She’s Awesome: Evanjalin is admittedly manipulative. She omits information until she feels it’s necessary to be shared — like how many languages she speaks, who her family is, and what she’s endured during the 10 years of exile. But she’s also an amazing visionary (literally and figuratively) who understands, more than anyone, what (and who) it will take to unite Lumatere, a land made of up of people from the Rock, River, Flatlands, Monts and Forest who need a miracle to free them from their decade of unspeakable oppression and exile.

Who She Loves: Melina revealed on her blog that “Finnikin and Evanjalin are the medieval fantasy versions of Francesca and Will (the pragmatist versus the dreamer),” so knowing that made me see all the ways that was true. At one point, I laughed with glee at the similarities. Evanjalin says “What are you thinking?” and it’s nearly word for word what Frankie asks Will in “Saving Francesca.”

Finnikin, unlike Will, is a real looker, especially if you have a bit of a thing for hot gingers who fall for fiery brunettes (as in “The Pillars of the Earth,” “Harry Potter,” and the “Outlander” series). He’s tall, lean, and naturally alabaster-skinned with hair the “ridiculous” color of berries and gold. He can fight like a member of the King’s Guard (his father was their commander) but has a sharp intellect honed by the murdered King’s top adviser. Smart (he knows seven languages!) and good with a sword, Finnikin is stubbornly rational… until he gets to know Evanjalin and starts exploring his instinctive side.

Memorable Quotes:

“When one is silent, those around speak even more.”

“Be prepared for the worst, my love, for it lives next door to the best.”

“There are worse things than a lie and there are better things than the truth!”

“Just like a man of this kingdom, Finnikin. Talking of death, yours or mine, is not a good way to begin a-”

 

m4s0n501

Comments

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Comments

  1. I just got chills because you mentioned Outlander. OMG Jamie Fraser is to DIE for. I loved this book so much and I can’t decide who I loved more—Finnikin or Evanjelin. I hadn’t read that tidbit about the Frankie/Will thing either (I try to avoid anything that might be spoilery) so I’ll check it out. It makes me want to go back and read those parts. :)

    • I loved them so much. I know it’s weird of me to say, but one of my favorite exchanges is on their way to save Froi when he says “I’ll never forgive you,” and she says “And I’ll never forgive you for the whore.” That made me laugh, because it was so obvious at that point that they were in love with each other but couldn’t figure out how to express it.

      • I love that part too! They had such a great relationship. I mean, isn’t that how real love is? One day you realize it’s something huge and impossible to define, but it doesn’t just become that suddenly. It happens gradually, little by little. Oh, I love the end, when he’s trying to get through her guard and he ladies. I think I re-read that part twenty times.

        • I know, me too! I love the scene where he’s getting a haircut and talking-to from all the wise ladies. I could see Finnikin making an awesome movie or TV movie, actually. The end is such a gift — one of the best final exchanges in a book ever; I also love that it doesn’t “feel” like the first of a series; it’s very contained and makes an awesome standalone story.

  2. Oh and I haven’t read Pillars of the Earth (only because my husband made me watch the miniseries since he loved the book, so now I feel it’s pointless to read it) but I LOVED the film. For Finnikin I kept picturing Ben Barnes (because I want all guys to fit into my dark haired/dark eye thing), but there were times when I’d remind myself that he was a ginger and think of Eddie Redmayne and Hayley Atwell in Pillars. Le sigh.

    • I LOVED that mini-series, which is why I pictured Eddie Redmayne (with more hair) as Finnikin — especially since F was so lean and tall and milky-white ;-) Melina said on Twitter she pictured a bigger version of Clive Owen as Trevanion. If you love Ben Barnes, did you see him geek out in “Killing Bono” as Bono’s adolescent pal who starts a band that, well, isn’t U2? If not, put it on the Netflix list!

      • I’ll check it out. I love U2 (isn’t that a true story? I swear I’ve heard it before). Also, Clive Owen is totally how I pictured Trevanion. Big and brawny. Oh and the story of he and Lady Beatriss. She knows how to write such awesome relationships. I read the blog and did you catch how she said that Froi’s family makes the Mackees and The Piper’s Son stuff look like the Brady Bunch? Can’t wait to read it.

        • Yes, and I will say that there are some definite parallels between Tom and Froi, but also between Finnikin and Froi. PLUS, there’s more of Finnikin, Trevanion, Lady Beatriss, etc. in Froi. Can’t wait for you to get approved. I’ll be expecting a Tweet announcing you’ve read/are reading it :-)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] (as I was dragging my feet since I’m not normally drawn to fantasy).  She has a great article about Evanjelin on her blog. You should check it out! Share this:FacebookTwitterEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to [...]

  2. [...] New: Favorite kick-ass heroine? Evanjalin from “Finnikin of the Rock” [...]

  3. [...] because it means that I have a lot of good choices.Since she’s fresh on my mind, I’ll go with Evanjalin from “Finnikin of the Rock” by Melina Marchetta. (Sorry, Sarah, I know she’s your [...]

  4. [...] of the Rock”: I feel like I write about Finnikin a lot, but I can’t help it. Back in January, I described him as: Finnikin… is a real looker, especially if you have a bit of a thing for [...]

  5. [...] for sure! After that it’s a tie between Karou from “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” and Evanjalin from “Finnikin of the Rock. All three are survivors at heart. I love heroines who aren’t [...]

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