Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
On Sale Date: May 19, 2015
Fiction, Epic Fantasy
Del Rey 448 pages
My Rating: 5 Stars
“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.
UPROOTED is one extremely well-done story. A tale for adults with its roots digging deep into Polish folklore and its branches dangling boughs of magic, fantasy, and horror. It feels much like a classic Grimms' Fairy Tale, only all the good stuff remains inside. Rich and layered, dark with a touch of sensuous, Naomi Novik has created something special here.
The story opens with the main character, seventeen-year-old Agnieszka, chosen from her village as the next maiden to serve the local wizard known as the Dragon for 10 years of servitude. A price the village pays grudgingly for the protection he gives them against the dangers that threaten within the forest. Everyone thought it would be talented and beautiful Kasia, but the Dragon takes one look at Agnieszka and declares her the next maiden. The big question is, why? What makes Agnieszka so special?
From the moment Agnieszka steps within the grumpy, reticent wizards tower, all hell breaks loose. Well, the Dragon seems to feel that way. Though he appears young, at over 150, Dragon is set in his ways and cares not the least for the maidens in his servitude beyond their use to him. Until Agnieszka's magic is awakened. Strong, wild magic. The relationship between these two ran hot and cold, indifferent to passionate, mundane to the magical. I loved every minute of it. The magic they work together, a harmony they build by singing is pretty amazing, and at times it smoldered hotly - nothing childish here.
These different types of magic that Agnieszka begins to work are so fascinating, each described in vivid detail. You could see and feel them. The danger and intensity grow when Angnieszka's best friend Kasia is taken hostage by the woods where they seem to be waiting for Agnieska. Waiting and watching. War and fighting, corruption and evil surround our heroine and her Dragon wizard, but what the forest holds enchanted and chilled me. I was looking over my shoulder, looking for branches towering over me and dark magic. Whew. But, it's not all scary, and it seems Naomi Novik knows this as a surprise of beauty can be found even in the heart of what seems darkness.