Book: Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Release Date: May 19th 2015
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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.
‘I didn’t feel I owed him beauty.’
Uprooted is a book that received some buzz after its release last year. For that reason I kept my eye on it. Not only for that cover. But I was still hesitant to start it. In May I finally did, and I did not regret it. The overall feeling and the characters made me rate this book so high. And that cover, you know. I’m in love with it.
The start to this book is rather interesting. When one talks about a dragon you get a certain idea. But this dragon wasn’t quite that mythical creature. He was actually a wizard and he takes girls into his tower for ten years. Against expectations (to everyone but us readers) our main character Agnieszka gets chosen to go to the tower for ten years. Overall the book gave of the feeling of a fairy tale or a folklore while reading it. There seem to be influences drawn from Polish folklore which I found interesting.
The book builds up slowly towards the big plot, but that doesn’t mean that nothing happens in between. There are little threads that end up tying into the ending of the book that I liked seeing, like why he kept girls for 10 years in his tower. The ending brought together many different groups going head to head which wasn’t something I was expecting at the start of this book.
Agnieszka and the Dragon are opposites to each other. While Agnieszka doesn’t mind getting dirty and prefers to feel things out, the Dragon loves beauty and explanations. Yet despite this they are both drawn to each other throughout this book. It is one of those few times where I shipped them from the moment they met in the book, and kept on hoping and hoping that it would happen. Their interactions amused me more than they probably should have. The way they could use magic was also different. What worked for the Dragon didn’t work for Agnieszka, and what worked for her didn’t necessarily work for him. But joining their magic worked great.
I liked both characters as they each had their flaws. Agnieszka was easy to like throughout the book. She is relatable to most of us I like to think. I mean, I hardly ever can get through a day without dropping something or splattering everything all over myself. I swear, I need a bib for dinner when we eat pasta. And while the Dragon is blunt, a little rude at moments and stubborn, he certainly seems to have his heart in the right place, even if he doesn’t always know how to show it. But throughout the book we do get those glimpses.
I wasn’t sure about the addition of Kasia into the plot initially, but in the end it fitted in nicely. Kasia grew into her own character more and adjusted to her new way of life. The friendship between the two girls was as sturdy as a rock. I was also glad to see it wasn’t turned into some sort of love triangle.