Published by Del Rey Books on May 21, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Fairytale
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
Her people rely on the cold, ambitious wizard, known only as the Dragon, to keep the wood's powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman must be handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as being lost to the wood.
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows - everyone knows - that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia - all the things Agnieszka isn't - and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
But no one can predict how or why the Dragon chooses a girl. And when he comes, it is not Kasia he will take with him.
From the author of the Temeraire series comes this hugely imaginative, engrossing and vivid fantasy novel, inspired by folk and fairy tales. It is perfect reading for fans of Robin Hobb and Trudi Canavan.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik is going to go down as one of those all-time best fantasy/fairytale books. It’s beautiful and so unique and just feels like home, you know? Anyway, let’s talk about it.
This book received a ton of hype when it came out last year. So. Much. Hype. So much so that I listened and ordered the UK version because the cover was so beautiful. Just look at it up there! You can’t tell, but the gold actually shines. I mean, the US version is also super beautiful, look:
Cool, huh? The cover are both pretty different, but they’re both really unique and intricate and perfect for the story. Right! The story. Let’s talk about that. This is about a girl named Agnieszka—pronounced ag-NYESH-kah, according to Novik’s Acknowledgement page. In the beginning, she’s a poor village girl of no superior beauty or charm. But the Dragon takes her.
Let’s get something clear here: the Dragon is not the fire-breathing dragon that we know and fear. That’s what they call the Wizard that protects their valley. And every ten years, the Dragon takes a girl from the village. And to Agnieszka’s utter surprise, he takes her.
So from that point, which I think happens in the first chapter, I expected kind of like a Beauty and the Beast story where she changes him and they live happily ever after. That’s not what happened. I don’t want to get into it much because I don’t want to spoil things, but the story is about their relationship, but it’s also about so much more. It’s about magic and friendship and family and evil and hope and hopelessness and strength and growth and learning who you are. Bah. It’s wonderful.
And get this: the “bad guy” turns out to be the Forest that surrounds the valley. THE FOREST. What a great enemy. I’m not saying this sarcastically. The Forest is this entity that’s alive…but not. But it contains this evil force and power.
[Sidenote: This review is hard because I want to gush about everything, but I also kind of want you to go in not knowing what to expect.]
Okay, this I have to talk about: the magic system Novik created. It’s amazing. Amazing in a very simple way. Her descriptions were just beautiful, but the magic was and felt different to each person using it. Listen to these three quotes:
“My strength welled up through my body and fountained out of my mouth, and where it left me, a trembling in the air began and went curling down around my body in a spiraling path.”
“And then the magic flowed, but not the same was as when the Dragon’s spell-lessons dragged it in a rush out of me. Instead it seemed to me the sound of chanting became a stream made to carry magic along, and I was standing by the water’s edge with a pitcher that never ran dry, pouring a thin silver line into the rushing current.”
“Magic ran whispering and slow over rocks, deep inside me.”
These are all descriptions of Agnieszka’s magic, which are usually nature-based. Like running water. And that’s so cool. But Dragon’s magic, I think, would feel completely different to him.
The characterization also felt incredibly real. I have a Post-it note towards the end that says: “It’s amazing to me the journey Agnieszka has taken in the last 300 pages. She’s a completely different person, but it seems like a natural and not-forced progression.” And the Dragon, too. Those were probably the two “main” characters, with Agnieszka definitely the main, main character. But we see both of them grow and learn and love.
Another thing here: Agnieszka is treated like an equal throughout the book. I mean, maybe not in the very beginning, but once she comes to herself, no one looks down on her. No one treats her like a young 17-year-old girl who doesn’t know what she’s doing. She’s just an equal. I love that.
I don’t want to give away more, so I’ll stop talking. But know that everything about this book is so intricate and beautiful and unique and feels like a fairy tale you can keep reading over and over and over again. The ending was amazing; everything came together wonderfully. The characters were great, even the evil ones. The action was well thought out and realistic (as far as magic battles can be).
Literally, this story went places I couldn’t have dreamed. Novik took would could’ve been a five book series and put it into these almost-400 pages. And some would say that’s a fault. But she did it so well. That I want five books, but I don’t need them because she wrapped everything up so beautifully.
Also: I hear a movie is in the works? djAOIDJaosidjsaiodjasodsajdiosaj.
My Review in a Nutshell: Go read this Uprooted! You’ll be rooted to the page and won’t be able to put it down! (See what I did there? Eh? Eh?). Just go go go.