“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.
Verdict =4/5 *descriptive, epic fantasy*
Hi everyone, I’m going to keep this one short and sweet as job-searching beckons.
Uprooted is an epic tale of good versus evil, as an unlikely hero discovers her true strength to save the day (sound familiar?). The novel follows Agnieszka, a teenage peasant girl as she enters the world of The Dragon, a powerful wizard who takes one girl to his tower every ten years. Together they battle the insidious forces of the Wood and confront its dark magic. Sarkan and Agnieszka must also outmaneuver some powerful human enemies as well.
The pace is initially slow, but speeds up rapidly about a third of the way through the novel. Events progress quickly and a lot of action and character development is packed into the second half. Some people have argued that Uprooted would have worked better as two or three books, as opposed to one. I disagree with this as I enjoy fast-paced stories and it was great to have everything wrapped up at the end of just one book.
The writing is beautifully descriptive and reads like a dark fairytale. Novik has a gift for creating atmosphere and drawing you in with rich descriptions and playful dialogue.
The fight scenes are written particularly well, but Novik stumbles a bit on the scene transition (sometimes things weren’t clear enough when time had passed).
Agnieszka is the main character and while has some great moments she is also a bit of a Mary-Sue, she is clumsy *sigh*, average looking *sigh* and of course she is special (the Dragon only takes special girls *eye roll*). Despite this I actually found her character endearing and enjoyed watching her grow into her powers as the dangers around her thrust her into a new world.
The Dragon aka Sarkan was also an interesting character to read about – snarky and reserved he and Agnieszka were a great odd couple and I enjoy watching them interact.
The side characters had some interesting plot lines. I particularly enjoyed Kasia’s story arc and resolution. Like Agnieszka, the author subverts gender norms through Kasia’s development throughout the novel.
While definitely steamy, I didn’t find the romance in this novel particularly believable. Sarkan ‘The Dragon’ is consistently rude to Agnieszka and treats her in a condescending manner throughout the novel. The author attempts show their relationship building through the magic they share, but even when Agnieszka’s becomes a powerful player in her own right she still puts up with his shit (to an extent).
While I think that Novik has a talent for writing engrossing love scenes, this is one couple I do not want to stay together.
The villain in Uprooted is the all-seeing, seemingly unstoppable Wood. For decades The Dragon has been protecting Agnieszka people from the insidious woodland on the border of the kingdom. Not only does the Wood send out all sorts of nasties it also has a mind of it’s own! I believe that good villains make good books and I loved how malevolent the Wood was – definitely one of my top baddies.
This is great book with minimal flaws! I would definitely recommend it.
Thanks for reading,