Published by Del Rey on May 19th 2015
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“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”
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, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling 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 Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
I hate reading books that are adored in the bookish community. The pressure. OMG, the pressure. If you’re a blogger reading this, you know what I mean. If you’re just a reader and you don’t spend a ton of time on Twitter or Goodreads, you need to know that people raved about Uprooted all through 2015, and it’s still carrying on into the new year. That’s not why I put off reading it, but I don’t like reading things at the same time everyone else is. I pick up books when it feels right to me. I guess the time had come. But I know if I am meant to love a book, I will love it more when I choose it on my time.
Peer pressure doesn’t work on me, and y’all can suck it.
I decided it was going to be my second read of 2016 because I needed something for the “dragons” Story Sprites square. Turns out it doesn’t actually have dragons, but it does have an enchanted forest so I am using it for that square instead.
I’m not great at writing reviews anymore because I don’t actually want to talk about the book, per se. I used to write these technical reviews with all sorts of writing terms but I think I kind if lost people and I wasn’t connecting with the blog readers so I don’t really want to do that anymore.
But what you should know about Uprooted? It’s really, really awesome. Usually it’s one thing that makes me love a book, but in this case, it was all the elements coming together. The world-building, the magic, the characters, the writing, the romance (SWOON–there’s not a lot of it, but what there is is great).
It’s hard to talk about what I loved so much, and it’s so easy to talk about what I didn’t love. So let’s go there now. And I’m putting this under a spoiler tag even though it won’t really make sense if you haven’t read the book: View Spoiler » I’m an extremely logical person and I simply can’t let things go when they get a bit nonsensical. Even if this is a fantasy novel, it has to make sense in the context of the narrative. You know what doesn’t make sense? Being able to do a really long spell from a book that you don’t have memorized once said book disappears into a hole. How the HECK did she manage to recall the Summoning without the damn book? « Hide Spoiler
All that said, I was entranced from this book from about page twenty to page four hundred. I think I would want to live in this world. Yeah, it’s brutal and you should never, EVER go in that creepy-ass forest, but the people are great. The towns are great. Okay, yeah, the royalty is stupid as heck, but then you have some really amazing magicians and diverse people and it just makes me want to be a part of that fantasy world. If ever there were a book that would be fun to climb into, it’s this one.
I think my favorite, FAVORITE part, though, was the magic. Yes, there was no actual magic system and it was whimsical with no real rhyme or reason, but it worked. If you have to have everything explained for you when it comes to world-building, that is not going to work for you and you are probably going to be unhappy. But I loved how Agnieszka (side note: I love this name) was able to take the magic she was taught by the Dragon, and morph it into her own thing. I loved that she was able to do the kind of magic that everyone else thought didn’t exist. Yes, in this sense, this book used the “chosen one” trope, but it SO WORKED.
I just want to shout out, too, how lovely the writing was. Seriously. It was lush and that sensory language was boss. Naomi Novik brought her world to life in ways the English language cannot describe. And she used the English language in ways it has not ever been used before.
Yeah, that’s about it. There are far better reviews than mine out there, but I think I have properly expressed what I liked and didn’t. I was swept away and then it lost a little magic for me at the end, but it still ended in a solid way that I actually truly appreciate. I hope Naomi Novik writes something along this vain again.