First of all, great cover! Not only is it a beautiful piece of art, but I thought it depicted the story perfectly. Second, UPROOTED is an amazing story, a fantastic, magical adventure that can be enjoyed by young and old alike.
On her seventeenth birthday, Agnieszka had no choice but to line up with other seventeen-year old girls for the Dragon to choose from among them. She knew she wouldn’t be taken by the Dragon–for he only took someone special and she wasn’t that–but she wasn’t ready to lose her best friend, Kasia–the most beautiful, the most clever, the most kind–to the Dragon either. But as she held on to Kasia, who should the Dragon choose but herself?
[Technically, the Dragon didn’t choose this time, but anyway…]
And so begins a life of magic and adventure… and lest this seemed a light and funny book from my summary, I assure you that it’s not, because the Dragon is battling the Woods, an evil magic manifesting from the woods (forest), which is near Agnieszka’s village of Dvernik. While the Dragon is the foremost wizard in all of Polnya, the Woods’ magic is also strong, and over the years, it had eaten up whole villages and moved its boundaries several times. Will the Dragon continue to hold the boundary, even with Agnieszka’s help? Or would the Woods finally swallow them all?
Agnieszka is a lovely heroine, down-to-earth and clumsy. She holds her family and friends dear, especially Kasia. She doesn’t hesitate to do what she feels is right, even at the expense of her life. Part of UPROOTED is the story of the strong bond of her friendship with Kasia. The way their secret thoughts were bared during the Summoning made me feel for them; I understand how hard that could be. Yet, the fact that they have these petty thoughts and concerns are what makes them human, flawed characters that are completely relatable. Yet, Agnieszka didn’t let what she saw and now know about Kasia affect her; that she was able to transcend these trivialities and move onward is what makes Ms Novik’s characters shine and make the readers believe in their unshakable friendship.
And what a perfect name for the Dragon–Sarkan. So apt. I myself can feel the flames and the beating of wings in that name. What a wonderful hero–so confident in his wizardry, yet he could flush when confronted with his feelings for Agnieszka. While the romance was not overwhelming, what was there was just right. While the story is told from Agnieszka’s point of view, we do learn enough about Sarkan to know him, and to see how Agnieszka’s presence in his life opened his eyes and motivated him to change. And seriously, I love the way he almost always glared or snapped or snarled at our heroine; I do believe those are signs of affection.
The engaging and unforgettable characters aside, the story flows in a way that compels you to read onwards. There are funny moments that bring comic relief, and surprising twists and turns in the plot that I didn’t see coming. The title also has layers of meaning, which I will not spoil here.
I love and enjoyed this story so much I hate to see it end. Would it be too much to ask for more books set in this world? I’d love to revisit Agnieszka and Sarkan and Kasia again! Oh, and if this would be made into a movie, I’d definitely be the first to stand in line.
Very highly recommended. Let Naomi Novik sweep you into an awesome, magical adventure. Not to be missed!
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.