Author: Naomi Novik (www.naominovik.com)
Naomi Novik was born in New York in 1973, a first-generation American, and raised on Polish fairy tales, Baba Yaga, and Tolkein. Her first novel, His Majesty’s Dragon, was published in 2006 along with Thorne of Jade and Black Powder War, and has been translated into 23 languages. She primarily writes within the genres of Historical Fantasy and Alternate History.
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Folklore, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction
Read on… the bus in Seattle while… traveling to and from work.
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: 2015
Purchase your copy here.
Review: 4 out of 5 Dogwoods
Summary (from the back cover): “Agnieszka loves her valley home in a quiet village. 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 the Wood’s dark forces at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his assistance: Every ten years, one young woman must be handed over to serve him without question. The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka knows – everyone knows – that the Dragon will take Kasia: a 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 when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.”
I loved Uprooted. This book has all the classical fantasy elements: a grumpy old wizard in a tower, a dragon, a wicked wood, division between High Magic and Low Magic, a warring kingdom, magical struggles, and themes of wood and nature. The plot develops and unwinds like a growing plant with unfurling leaves:
“Agnieszka’s training, her failures and successes in magic, her loneliness and fears and frustrations, all bud and blossom into new adventure even as the roots tangle into deeper complication: The ultimate source of the Wood’s malice.” Amal El-Mohtar, Friendship, Magic and Danger Blossom In ‘Uprooted,’ NPR, May 24, 2015.
Uprooted has strong character development, a warm and beautiful setting, and a good pace with a tensely escalating threat level. Make sure you clear your schedule before you read it though – you’ll want to finish it one sitting. The story is easier to read in longer sessions as well; because the villain of this story is the Wood (a forest), some of the descriptions of the fighting scenes were a little confusing and difficult to follow – when you’re sitting on the bus with a lot of distractions and other background noises, it is difficult to follow a battle between nature and soldier. I set some time aside this past weekend and finished it in one sitting, which was much more enjoyable than attempting to read it on the bus.
One of my favorite elements from Uprooted is the strong female friendship between Agnieszka (“ag-NYESH-kah,” per Naomi Novik in the Acknowledgments) and Kasia. This friendship was the best relationship in the whole book, and I wish it had been explored and developed a bit more. Agnieszka also reminds me of one of my favorite childhood heroines, Cimorene in Dealing with Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles #1) by Patricia Wrede. In certain respects, Agnieszka is an unlikely heroine, but she is written in such a way that we will never doubt her or stop rooting for her.
All-in-all, I definitely recommend Uprooted. Cuddle up on the couch with a cozy blanket, a pot of tea, and a snack because you will be invested in Uprooted with the first sentence: “Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley…”