Uprooted: 2021 2021 A Novel online

Uprooted: 2021 2021 A Novel online

Uprooted: 2021 2021 A Novel online
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Uprooted: 2021 2021 A Novel online__below

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NEBULA AWARD WINNER • HUGO AWARD FINALIST • “If you want a fantasy with strong characters and brilliantly original variations on ancient stories, try Uprooted!”—Rick Riordan
 
“Breathtaking . . . a tale that is both elegantly grand and earthily humble, familiar as a Grimm fairy tale yet fresh, original, and totally irresistible.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR • BuzzFeed TordotcomBookPage  Library Journal Publishers Weekly

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.

Praise for Uprooted

Uprooted has leapt forward to claim the title of Best Book I’ve Read Yet This Year. . . . Moving, heartbreaking, and thoroughly satisfying, Uprooted is the fantasy novel I feel I’ve been waiting a lifetime for. Clear your schedule before picking it up, because you won’t want to put it down.” —NPR

Review

Uprooted has leapt forward to claim the title of Best Book I’ve Read Yet This Year. . . . Moving, heartbreaking, and thoroughly satisfying, Uprooted is the fantasy novel I feel I’ve been waiting a lifetime for. Clear your schedule before picking it up, because you won’t want to put it down.” —NPR

“A very enjoyable fantasy with the air of a modern classic . . . Naomi Novik skillfully takes the fairy-tale-turned-bildungsroman structure of her premise . . . and builds enough flesh on those bones to make a very different animal. . . . The vivid characters around her also echo their fairy-tale forebears, but are grounded in real-world ambivalence that makes this book feel quietly mature, its world lived-in.” The New York Times Book Review

“Novik here delivers a tale that is funny and fast-paced, laced with hair-raising battle scenes and conspiracies; it also touches on deeper ecological concerns we grapple with today.” The Washington Post

“Novik takes us on a surprise-filled journey. . . . The resulting warmth and intimacy provide a nicely nurturing environment for her heroine’s unusual adventures.” The Seattle Times

“Drawing on her Polish heritage and fairy-tale tropes, [Novik] has penned an original and fully realized fantastical place guaranteed to enthrall her longtime fans and attract new readers. This exceptional fantasy for adult and teen readers should appeal to those who love fairy-tale influenced stories such as Robin McKinley’s Spindle’s End.” Library Journal (starred review)

“Every so often you come upon a story that seems like a lost tale of Grimm newly come to light. Uprooted is such a novel. Its narrative spell is confidently wrought and sympathetically cast. I might even call it bewitching.” —Gregory Maguire, bestselling author of Wicked and Egg & Spoon

“The magic in Uprooted, with its realistic moral dimension, is so vividly believable that it almost seems you could work the spells. But the book will do that for you.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, award-winning and bestselling author of The Earthsea cycle

Uprooted has everything I love: a great heroine, new takes on old myths and legends, and surprising twists and turns. A delight.” —Cassandra Clare, New York Times bestselling author of The Mortal Instruments series

“Magical and practical, otherworldly and planted in the real, I could not stop reading this book and neither will you!” —Tamora Pierce, New York Times bestselling author of Trickster’s Choice and Trickster’s Queen

“Wild, thrilling, and deeply, darkly magical. An instant classic.” —Lev Grossman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Magicians Trilogy

About the Author

Naomi Novik is the acclaimed author of the Temeraire series:  His Majesty’s Dragon, Throne of Jade, Black Powder War, Empire of Ivory,  Victory of Eagles, Tongues of Serpents, Crucible of Gold, Blood of Tyrants, and  League of Dragons. She has been nominated for the Hugo Award and has won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, as well as the Locus Award for Best New Writer and the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel. She is also the author of  Uprooted and the graphic novel  Will Supervillains Be on the Final? She lives in New York City with her husband Charles Ardai, the founder of Hard Case Crime, and their daughter, Evidence, surrounded by an excessive number of purring computers.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1

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.

He doesn’t devour them really; it only feels that way. He takes a girl to his tower, and ten years later he lets her go, but by then she’s someone different. Her clothes are too fine and she talks like a courtier and she’s been living alone with a man for ten years, so of course she’s ruined, even though the girls all say he never puts a hand on them. What else could they say? And that’s not the worst of it—­after all, the Dragon gives them a purse full of silver for their dowry when he lets them go, so anyone would be happy to marry them, ruined or not.

But they don’t want to marry anyone. They don’t want to stay at all.

“They forget how to live here,” my father said to me once, unexpectedly. I was riding next to him on the seat of the big empty wagon, on our way home after delivering the week’s firewood. We lived in Dvernik, which wasn’t the biggest village in the valley or the smallest, or the one nearest the Wood: we were seven miles away. The road took us up over a big hill, though, and at the top on a clear day you could see along the river all the way to the pale grey strip of burned earth at the leading edge, and the solid dark wall of trees beyond. The Dragon’s tower was a long way in the other direction, a piece of white chalk stuck in the base of the western mountains.

I was still very small—­not more than five, I think. But I already knew that we didn’t talk about the Dragon, or the girls he took, so it stuck in my head when my father broke the rule.

“They remember to be afraid,” my father said. That was all. Then he clucked to the horses and they pulled on, down the hill and back into the trees.

It didn’t make much sense to me. We were all afraid of the Wood. But our valley was home. How could you leave your home? And yet the girls never came back to stay. The Dragon let them out of the tower, and they came back to their families for a little while—­for a week, or sometimes a month, never much more. Then they took their dowry-­silver and left. Mostly they would go to Kralia and go to the University. Often as not they married some city man, and otherwise they became scholars or shopkeepers, although some people did whisper about Jadwiga Bach, who’d been taken sixty years ago, that she became a courtesan and the mistress of a baron and a duke. But by the time I was born, she was just a rich old woman who sent splendid presents to all her grand-­nieces and nephews, and never came for a visit.

So that’s hardly like handing your daughter over to be eaten, but it’s not a happy thing, either. There aren’t so many villages in the valley that the chances are very low—­he takes only a girl of seventeen, born between one October and the next. There were eleven girls to choose from in my year, and that’s worse odds than dice. Everyone says you love a Dragon-­born girl differently as she gets older; you can’t help it, knowing you so easily might lose her. But it wasn’t like that for me, for my parents. By the time I was old enough to understand that I might be taken, we all knew he would take Kasia.

Only travelers passing through, who didn’t know, ever complimented Kasia’s parents or told them how beautiful their daughter was, or how clever, or how nice. The Dragon didn’t always take the prettiest girl, but he always took the most special one, somehow: if there was one girl who was far and away the prettiest, or the most bright, or the best dancer, or especially kind, somehow he always picked her out, even though he scarcely exchanged a word with the girls before he made his choice.

And Kasia was all those things. She had thick wheat-­golden hair that she kept in a braid to her waist, and her eyes were warm brown, and her laugh was like a song that made you want to sing it. She thought of all the best games, and could make up stories and new dances out of her head; she could cook fit for a feast, and when she spun the wool from her father’s sheep, the thread came off the wheel smooth and even without a single knot or snarl.

I know I’m making her sound like something out of a story. But it was the other way around. When my mother told me stories about the spinning princess or the brave goose-­girl or the river-­maiden, in my head I imagined them all a little like Kasia; that was how I thought of her. And I wasn’t old enough to be wise, so I loved her more, not less, because I knew she would be taken from me soon.

She didn’t mind it, she said. She was fearless, too: her mother Wensa saw to that. “She’ll have to be brave,” I remember hearing her say to my mother once, while she prodded Kasia to climb a tree she’d hung back from, and my mother hugging her, with tears.

We lived only three houses from one another, and I didn’t have a sister of my own, only three brothers much older than me. Kasia was my dearest. We played together from our cradles, first in our mothers’ kitchens keeping out from underfoot and then in the streets before our houses, until we were old enough to go running wild in the woods. I never wanted to be anywhere inside when we could be running hand-­in-­hand beneath the branches. I imagined the trees bending their arms down to shelter us. I didn’t know how I would bear it, when the Dragon took her.

My parents wouldn’t have feared for me, very much, even if there hadn’t been Kasia. At seventeen I was still a too-­skinny colt of a girl with big feet and tangled dirt-­brown hair, and my only gift, if you could call it that, was I would tear or stain or lose anything put on me between the hours of one day. My mother despaired of me by the time I was twelve and let me run around in castoffs from my older brothers, except for feast days, when I was obliged to change only twenty minutes before we left the house, and then sit on the bench before our door until we walked to church. It was still even odds whether I’d make it to the village green without catching on some branch, or spattering myself with mud.

“You’ll have to marry a tailor, my little Agnieszka,” my father would say, laughing, when he came home from the forest at night and I went running to meet him, grubby-­faced, with at least one hole about me, and no kerchief. He swung me up anyway and kissed me; my mother only sighed a little: what parent could really be sorry, to have a few faults in a Dragon-­born girl?

Our last summer before the taking was long and warm and full of tears. Kasia didn’t weep, but I did. We’d linger out late in the woods, stretching each golden day as long as it would go, and then I would come home hungry and tired and go straight to lie down in the dark. My mother would come in and stroke my head, singing softly while I cried myself to sleep, and leave a plate of food by my bed for when I woke up in the middle of the night with hunger. She didn’t try to comfort me otherwise: how could she? We both knew that no matter how much she loved Kasia, and Kasia’s mother Wensa, she couldn’t help but have a small glad knot in her belly—­not my daughter, not my only one. And of course, I wouldn’t really have wanted her to feel any other way.

It was just me and Kasia together, nearly all that summer. It had been that way for a long time. We’d run with the crowd of village children when we were young, but as we got older, and Kasia more beautiful, her mother had said to her, “It’s best if you don’t see much of the boys, for you and them.” But I clung to her, and my mother did love Kasia and Wensa enough not to try and pry me loose, even though she knew that it would hurt me more in the end.

On the last day, I found us a clearing in the woods where the trees still had their leaves, golden and flame-­red rustling all above us, with ripe chestnuts all over the ground. We made a little fire out of twigs and dry leaves to roast a handful. Tomorrow was the first of October, and the great feast would be held to show honor to our patron and lord. Tomorrow, the Dragon would come.

“It would be nice to be a troubadour,” Kasia said, lying on her back with her eyes closed. She hummed a little: a traveling singer had come for the festival, and he’d been practicing his songs on the green that morning. The tribute wagons had been arriving all week. “To go all over Polnya, and sing for the king.”

She said it thoughtfully, not like a child spinning clouds; she said it like someone really thinking about leaving the valley, going away forever. I put my hand out and gripped hers. “And you’d come home every Midwinter,” I said, “and sing us all the songs you’d learned.” We held on tight, and I didn’t let myself remember that the girls the Dragon took never wanted to come back.

Of course at that moment I only hated him ferociously. But he wasn’t a bad lord. On the other side of the northern mountains, the Baron of the Yellow Marshes kept an army of five thousand men to take to Polnya’s wars, and a castle with four towers, and a wife who wore jewels the color of blood and a white fox-­fur cloak, all on a domain no richer than our valley. The men had to give one day a week of work to the baron’s fields, which were the best land, and he’d take likely sons for his army, and with all the soldiers wandering around, girls had to stay indoors and in company once they got to be women. And even he wasn’t a bad lord.

The Dragon only had his one tower, and not a single man-­at-­arms, or even a servant, besides the one girl he took. He didn’t have to keep an army: the service he owed the king was his own labor, his magic. He had to go to court sometimes, to renew his oath of loyalty, and I suppose the king could have called him to war, but for the most part his duty was to stay here and watch the Wood, and protect the kingdom from its malice.

His only extravagance was books. We were well read by the standards of villagers, because he would pay gold for a single great tome, and so the book-­peddlers came all this way, even though our valley was at the very edge of Polnya. And as long as they were coming, they filled up the saddlebags of their mules with whatever worn-­out or cheaper stock of books they had and sold them to us for our pennies. It was a poor house in the valley that didn’t have at least two or three books proudly displayed upon the walls.

These might all seem like small and petty things, little enough cause to give up a daughter, to anyone who didn’t live near enough the Wood to understand. But I had lived through the Green Summer, when a hot wind carried pollen from the Wood west a long way into the valley, into our fields and gardens. The crops grew furiously lush, but also strange and misshapen. Anyone who ate of them grew sick with anger, struck at their families, and in the end ran into the Wood and vanished, if they weren’t tied down.

I was six years old at the time. My parents tried to shelter me as much as they could, but even so I remembered vividly the cold clammy sense of dread everywhere, everyone afraid, and the never-­ending bite of hunger in my belly. We had eaten through all our last year’s stores by then, counting on the spring. One of our neighbors ate a few green beans, driven foolish by hunger. I remember the screams from his house that night, and peering out the window to see my father running to help, taking the pitchfork from where it leaned against our barn.

One day that summer, too young to understand the danger properly, I escaped my tired, thin mother’s watch and ran into the forest. I found a half-­dead bramble, in a nook sheltered from the wind. I pushed through the hard dead branches to the protected heart and dug out a miraculous handful of blackberries, not misshapen at all, whole and juicy and perfect. Every one was a burst of joy in my mouth. I ate two handfuls and filled my skirt; I hurried home with them soaking purple stains through my dress and my mother wept with horror when she saw my smeared face. I didn’t sicken: the bramble had somehow escaped the Wood’s curse, and the blackberries were good. But her tears frightened me badly; I shied from blackberries for years after.

The Dragon had been called to court that year. He came back early and rode straight to the fields and called down magic fire to burn all that tainted harvest, every poisoned crop. That much was his duty, but afterwards he went to every house where anyone had sickened, and he gave them a taste of a magic cordial that cleared their minds. He gave orders that the villages farther west, which had escaped the blight, should share their harvest with us, and he even gave up his own tribute that year entirely so none of us would starve. The next spring, just before the planting season, he went through the fields again to burn out the few corrupted remnants before they could take fresh root.

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4.6 out of 54.6 out of 5
5,688 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Shadow Reader
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Magical and beautiful
Reviewed in the United States on January 13, 2018
Magical tale based in large part on Polish fairy tales about Baba Yaga and her hut on chicken foot, about Poland and Russia and their never ending-conflicts about. Agnieszka (polish name) is a young girl with no skills other then being a total, grimy and clumsy mess. When... See more
Magical tale based in large part on Polish fairy tales about Baba Yaga and her hut on chicken foot, about Poland and Russia and their never ending-conflicts about. Agnieszka (polish name) is a young girl with no skills other then being a total, grimy and clumsy mess. When it is discovered she has magic of her own it is as undisciplined and chaotic as the girl herself, however it is quite potent. When mixed with her masters magic it produces miraculous results. At the heart of the story is loyalty, friendships, love, greed, power and vengeance. Not everyone escapes unscathed but those who do have to find their own way to happiness. I loved it and found it breathtakingly beautiful.
88 people found this helpful
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Petrichor
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Overhyped, but not bad.
Reviewed in the United States on June 28, 2018
[3.5/5] Spoilers ahead. This is now the second book I’ve read recently that I’ve considered overhyped. From what I’ve heard it’s another retelling of Eastern Europe folklore, similar to The Bear and the Nightingale, so I guess I can’t really say... See more
[3.5/5]

Spoilers ahead.

This is now the second book I’ve read recently that I’ve considered overhyped. From what I’ve heard it’s another retelling of Eastern Europe folklore, similar to The Bear and the Nightingale, so I guess I can’t really say anything about how the story unfolds as a standard unexpected chosen one tale.

What I will freely bash instead is Sarkan, as in he’s an irritable prick throughout the story and doesn’t get much better by the end. I’ve seen people say in reviews that they ended up liking him, but even as a fellow misanthrope, I just couldn’t relate. At one point, the MC makes contact with him from a great distance away, something that was unheard of in the book world, and his response was to be annoyed. Lovely.

I don’t even mind the rather graphic sex scene towards the end section, a refreshing take on fantasy sexuality (instead of the typical fade to black, or full on lack of it Sanderson style). But I just don’t understand what the MC sees in him. He’s even close to irritable during that, FFS.

The relationship is almost creepy in a Stockholm syndrome way. I genuinely feel like the book would have been better without him at all, similar to how it ended with the MC tending to the sick heart trees; that section was good, and then Sarkan shows up at the end to dispense more boring irritability.

All in all, I’ve decided to start doing more research into what well-reviewed books are based on, because apparently retold Eastern European tales aren’t my cup of tea. Or maybe I’ve missed the point entirely, who knows. Onward to a new book.
75 people found this helpful
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Reveree
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I feel like I don’t have words to adequately describe this book
Reviewed in the United States on July 11, 2018
I feel like I don’t have words to adequately describe this book. Beautiful and terrible come to mind. Beautiful in the descriptions of the spells, the creation of the world, and the language. Terrible because of the horrific battle scenes and the graphic descriptions those... See more
I feel like I don’t have words to adequately describe this book. Beautiful and terrible come to mind. Beautiful in the descriptions of the spells, the creation of the world, and the language. Terrible because of the horrific battle scenes and the graphic descriptions those include. I will say this; this book captivated me. I was fascinated by Nieshka’s wandering magic, and how it complimented the Dragon’s. The Wood, and its sentience was also fascinating, if morbid. It was very much like an extended fairytale, but like the old kind, the more gritty kind.

On a side note. I’ve read a few reviews that go on about the horrible way Sarkan treats Nieshka, and how it’s SUCH a bad model for relationships. While I agree he isn’t the nicest guy sometimes, he just seems more like the isolated, grumpy cat kind of person who’s seen too much in his life, not the horribly abusive older man taking advantage, as he was made out to be by some reviewers. Sure he shouldn’t call her an idiot, but he showed his true character through deed more than word, and more than once demonstrated his willingness to put her before himself.

All in all, a book that kept me hooked throughout, and rarely slowed down. If you aren’t too sensitive to some violence, I’d recommend it.
48 people found this helpful
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Kathleen Edwards
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The witch... The Wood... The dragon
Reviewed in the United States on May 30, 2017
I really enjoyed getting lost in this book. It draws you in to The Wood. I reached the end and felt a bit confused, I had to blink and look around and realize I was no longer in The Wood, but sitting in my living room... I could really relate to the main... See more
I really enjoyed getting lost in this book. It draws you in to The Wood. I reached the end and felt a bit confused, I had to blink and look around and realize I was no longer in The Wood, but sitting in my living room...

I could really relate to the main character. I understood the way she felt, her frustration and the way she coped and succeeded. Doing things her way, the way that was comfortable, not the "correct, spelled out way". It took me back to my old Polish neighbors that I would visit as a child. The comfortable life, herbs hanging from the rafters, hot sweet tea..

I wish there was another one to read...
49 people found this helpful
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Meghan
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Wonderful, Imaginative, Charming
Reviewed in the United States on August 30, 2017
I loved "Uprooted!" This really is a book that has everything. Agnieszka is such a charming, likeable main character. She loves her family, her friends, and her life - all before the Dragon chooses her to serve him. The interactions between these two are often... See more
I loved "Uprooted!" This really is a book that has everything. Agnieszka is such a charming, likeable main character. She loves her family, her friends, and her life - all before the Dragon chooses her to serve him. The interactions between these two are often hilarious. He''s a total brat - grumpy, rough around the edges, argumentative. And Agnieszka is his stubborn, sassy counterpart. The descriptions of magic in this are one of the best parts. And the plot!! You''ll be on the edge of your seat for most of the book. The most beautiful aspect, to me, is how deeply she and Kasia love each other. Realistic female friendships are hard to come across in literature, but it never felt as if their love was put on the back burner for anything else. A wonderful, imaginative read.
38 people found this helpful
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Katie Walton
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Beware of explicit scenes.
Reviewed in the United States on September 19, 2019
I liked the writing and the characters and the story as a whole. I did not at all care for the surprise of coming across an explicit and detailed romantic encounter. I was very disappointed and had to put the book down. If it weren''t for this, I would have been able to... See more
I liked the writing and the characters and the story as a whole. I did not at all care for the surprise of coming across an explicit and detailed romantic encounter. I was very disappointed and had to put the book down. If it weren''t for this, I would have been able to recommend the book highly.
22 people found this helpful
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SilverTheBard
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Honestly? I’m not impressed.
Reviewed in the United States on July 27, 2019
Uprooted has a seriously strong hook right from the start: “A twist on the age-old classic of the princes in the tower guarded by a Dragon”. But, that’s it… And that’s just the first 10 pages. It will take half the book before you start to see a rise in the... See more
Uprooted has a seriously strong hook right from the start: “A twist on the age-old classic of the princes in the tower guarded by a Dragon”.

But, that’s it… And that’s just the first 10 pages. It will take half the book before you start to see a rise in the overall conflict again.

I couldn’t relate to the main character. She’s the idiot-savant of magic. Whereas it takes years of training to pull off some of these spells that MIGHT KILL YOU WHILE YOU CAST THEM, our MC is capable in only a matter of weeks to months! And that leads me into my next gripe.

The lacking balance of power. I had a chance to read through the comments and was dumbfounded by the glowing praise of the world and systems in it. When it is far from it.

1#: The threat does not match the power. For what it showed even early in the book, the spellcasters should have been able to easily tackle the “woods” with their capability of spells. Any more details and it becomes spoilers.
2#: The magic is loose, wild and borderline cartoonish. Instant transport over massive distances. The rapid increase of mass in a second. An unquenchable fire that can be bottled. ALL these things would drastically shift the economic value of an entire region if even one person were capable. And at the low low cost of a mild dizzy spell for one person! I’m not buying it.

I found myself on page 200 asking myself why I’m not enjoying this book. After that, it was a trudge to get through the last half.

If you like running around in the shoes of a superhero girl from the boonies who hasn’t discovered her powers yet, with a grumpy grandpa (That looks like a boy) romance dancing in the background, this book is for you.
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Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Loved it!
Reviewed in the United States on December 18, 2017
Sometimes I look over the reviews of a book before I post my own, just out of idle curiosity, and I was interested to find that there is almost no middle ground on Uprooted. People love it or they hate it. Me, I loved it in spite of its flaws, which I count as hella good... See more
Sometimes I look over the reviews of a book before I post my own, just out of idle curiosity, and I was interested to find that there is almost no middle ground on Uprooted. People love it or they hate it. Me, I loved it in spite of its flaws, which I count as hella good story-telling.  And flaws it does have.  The "hero" of the book, known as The Dragon, is a jerk.  Seriously, there''s no other way to describe him.  He has a past which explains some of it, and the fact that he''s shut himself up in a tower with only a single peasant girl (one is taken every ten years, then sent on her way, wealthy but seemingly rootless) for company.  He doesn''t really like the girls, has very little interaction with them in spite of the persistent rumors of him having his way with them. He has cut himself off from all but the most basic human contact for over a century.  Why wouldn''t he be a jerk? He''s forgotten how to treat people.

So on a year of the choosing, Agnieszka expects that it will be her best friend, Kasia, who is chosen.  Kasia is gorgeous, good, graceful, everything Agnieszka is not.  But it''s Agnieszka who is chosen instead. And from that moment, her story becomes something quite different from the one she had expected to live.  She has magic. Agnieszka also has a healthy ego, she doesn''t take The Dragon''s assholery seriously once she realizes that he''s teaching her to be a witch.  She knows she''s good at it, she understands magic at a gut level which is something even The Dragon doesn''t seem to do, being a wizard of rules and precision. Yeah, she''s a bit of a Mary Sue, but we never get the transformation into gorgeous Agnieszka who is desired by all who gaze upon her perfection.  Rather you get a rising heat between her and The Dragon, which they manage to deny until it''s a meeting of equals, and Agnieszka''s conscious decision.

I''m not going to get all shirty about the rules of magic here. They are what the author says they are, nothing more or less, and complaining about how magic "doesn''t work that way" seems fairly pointless to me.  I liked the feel of it, so I accept that it works the way Novik tells us it works.  More than that, I liked the feel of Agnieszka''s magic which is friendly and homespun. What she does in the end seems to me to be a direct result of how her magic has developed over the course of the book.  

Had it ended with Agnieszka doing the work she''d chosen for herself, I''d have been completely satisfied because it''s a story of a young woman finding her path in life. She''s helped by her teacher, given strength and purpose by her best friend, and the other people in her village who she cares about.  It''s a story about how an awkward girl becomes a woman who finds her voice, and the best expression of who she is in the magic she chooses to do.  In one thing about her magic, The Dragon was spot on: Agnieszka is a healer, and by the end, we see how powerful that gift really is.

So yeah, count me as one who loved this book.  I wasn''t insulted or annoyed by it.  I enjoyed the characters, and felt that the pace was exactly right.
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Maria Kaldvee
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Badly written and frankly, quite boring.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 28, 2019
I was eagerly waiting to start this based on some rave reviews and mentions of some prestigious awards that the book has won. I just recently finished reading The Mirror Visitor and was blown away by that gem, so after one unique fantasy I was dreaming to get into some more...See more
I was eagerly waiting to start this based on some rave reviews and mentions of some prestigious awards that the book has won. I just recently finished reading The Mirror Visitor and was blown away by that gem, so after one unique fantasy I was dreaming to get into some more magic and romance and adventure and thought that this one would be a perfect book to dive into after the previous one. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed. The premise itself ( village at the edge of the woods, magical powers, a dark wizard etc.) is all well and good, and I like that sort of fantasy environment. Now the writing itself though, I was doing a ''facepalm'' after ''facepalm'', and yes, yet again, another ''facepalm''. Nothing flows, first-person prose made me cringe so many times. First-person perspective is hard to get right in the first place and the last book which I found to have believable and comprehensive First-Person view was The Hunger Games book trilogy. However in this one, I honestly thought that I was reading a teenager''s attempt at writing fan fiction, instead of a professionally published and edited literary piece composed by a fully grown professional writer. Sentence structure was choppy and in some places I had to concentrate just to try to understand how the writer was imagining a certain scene since the sentences were not well written, or at least not written in a way that portrays a scene logically. Therefore, it would have been wiser for the writer to opt for third-person perspective. Character wise, I was disappointed to discover that the main character did indeed embody a cliched female protagonist of a YA novel. I was honestly expecting more. The ''I''m a 17 year old special girl with magical powers'' thing has been overdone to oblivion and frankly I should have known better, but again, was feeling hopeful and optimistic about this one based on all the Awards and marketing. So maybe, the main protagonist would have appeared more real if she was in her mid 20''s instead? In her interests, and the depth of her personality she wasn''t developed enough for my liking. Though I found that I liked the male protagonist, The Dragon and found him interesting enough. Supporting characters could have been further developed as well. The romance angle - I have seen this type of romantic story play out ten times better in half a dozen other books with better character development and world building. A mediocre effort in my opinion. A dark romance is refreshing and intriguing, only if done right and well written. So in conclusion, it felt more to me like the marketing department did a far better job at selling the book then the writer at actually composing it. The cover is beautiful so it''ll still look nice on my shelf. No offense to the writer at all, but I have really read much better fantasy/romance/magic stories.
25 people found this helpful
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J. Barber
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A wonderful folktale inspired fantasy
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 17, 2017
A wonderful folktale inspored fantasy I thoroughly enjoyed this tale. I will say I can understand why this wouldnt be for everyone as its written like a Young Adult book and the girls in the story dont get to much depth. For me I enjoyed the world to much and could forgive...See more
A wonderful folktale inspored fantasy I thoroughly enjoyed this tale. I will say I can understand why this wouldnt be for everyone as its written like a Young Adult book and the girls in the story dont get to much depth. For me I enjoyed the world to much and could forgive the lack of depth to the characters as its written like a folktale. One of the things I loved and I saw a reviewer point out is how the two main characters are together its quite like how belle and the beast are in beauty and the beast, where ones stubborn and ones grumpy and the friction between the characters that creates which I loved. I liked that Agnieszka seems to always be a mess, its not even that she cooks and gets most pf it over her its even things like standing in a dress in no time itll have mud on it or get a rip in it, this flaw of hers is a nice constant "flaw" of hers throught the story that has every one around her annoyed/ exasperated. The fact that this is a stand alone works in its favour as the book has a nice fast pace to it though this does sacrifice a little bit of world building with regards to explaing the magic or more about the wider world it really isnt missed. Agnieszka doesnt need to know how the magic works though little bits and peices are revealed to give a bit about how it works which was enough for me i feel the slight mystery of it helps with the folktale vibe of the story.
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indiejones
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Should never have been published.
Reviewed in Germany on August 5, 2020
Oh God, this book! It frustrated me no end, I had to force myself to keep on reading and it was so boring at times, I nearly fell asleep (which would have been a good thing). Let’s get on with it, shall we? The book is about a 17-year-old (or 18-year-old – frankly, I don’t...See more
Oh God, this book! It frustrated me no end, I had to force myself to keep on reading and it was so boring at times, I nearly fell asleep (which would have been a good thing). Let’s get on with it, shall we? The book is about a 17-year-old (or 18-year-old – frankly, I don’t care) girl who lives in a valley that is both haunted and protected by The Dragon. Haunted because every 10 years he visits the valley in which Agnieszka lives in order to pick a girl of his choice. He takes each girl with him to his lonely tower at the end of the valley and only releases her again after ten years. The only reason why the villagers continue to tolerate him is because he is a powerful wizard that keeps The Wood at bay. The Wood is a dark forest with a will of its own and it plans to devour every living being. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure that our main character is the next girl the Dragon captures to take with him. Naturally, she is surprised because she doesn’t think of herself as special, for the Dragon "always took the most special one, somehow: if there was one girl who was far and away the prettiest, or the most bright, or the best dancer, or especially kind, somehow he always picked her out.“ So the Dragon picks our main character this time. But she isn’t special! *gasp* She is just an ordinary girl, "a too-skinny colt of a girl with big feet and tangled dirt-brown hair“. But The Dragon picked *her*! Does that mean she is special? Surely, it must all be a big misunderstanding! Six pages in (not kidding, the quotes above are from pages 4 & 5) and I could already tick off two of my most-loathed tropes: 1. special snowflake 2. the pairing of a guy belonging to a high social class, wealthy, good-looking, mysterious + girl from low social background, who considers herself ugly and normal but somehow turns out to be special after all. Let’s continue on to the really problematic parts: First of all, the Dragon takes the girls by force. They don’t want to go with him but they have no choice. It’s the same thing for Agnieszka. It also doesn’t take much imagination to guess that the Dragon and she will have a romantic relationship. I don’t support any kind of relationships (especially romantic ones) that are based on physical/ emotional abuse, hate, or non-consent from either party. That’s what the Dragon does. He abuses Agnieszka emotionally, calls her names & insults her at every given point throughout the first half of the book. About a week after he abducted her, the Dragon accused her of being a wizard spy and "shoved [her] hard against the bed and bent low. […] His fingers were resting on [her] neck; his leg was on the bed, between [hers]." This is a physical attack but the author chose to load it with sexual tension and I just felt sooo uncomfortable. Sexual violence is a real thing, there are people who suffer from it on a daily basis and it has no place in a healthy relationship. Why did the author choose to use these exact words?? Again, this made me feel very uncomfortable. Another scene that caused me great consternation and raised eyebrows was when the main character is sexually assaulted by the prince of the kingdom who comes to pay a visit to the Dragon. The prince traps Agnieszka in her room, kisses her several times against her will and reaches for her skirts (p. 42). We get some insight into the character''s thoughts and she literally thinks: "For that matter, I’d probably have been willing myself, if he’d asked me outright and given me enough time to get over my surprise and answer him: I struggled more by reflex than because I wanted to reject him.“ (This is taken straight from the book and occurs as early as chapter 3!). Oh BOY, that last sentence was absolutely the limit. She struggled more by reflex than because she wanted to reject him?? What is going on?? This gives the notion of her enjoying it or at least not minding a sexual assault. Bad. Very bad. I felt like puking. The media is already busy enough distorting the truth of sexual assault/ rape survivors, we don’t need fantasy books targeted at teenage girls to add to that. This is what brings me to my next point. Agnieszka confesses the attack to the Dragon and one of the first things he says is: “What were you thinking? Why did you put yourself into that ludicrous dress if you didn’t want to seduce him?” This is literally victim blaming. He blames her choice of clothing for the assault. In fact, he has more bad things to say about her than about her attacker. Yeah, right, as if there weren’t enough men who routinely use “if she didn’t want to get raped, she shouldn''t have worn such short/ revealing clothes” as an excuse. NO! There was also no gradual development in their relationship. The Dragon literally goes from indifference to “hot and burning desire”. That’s about a third into the book. A THIRD! He only views her as a nuisance, calls her “puling” and spends his time insulting her. Completely believable. Agnieszka so often felt like a damsel in distress, she has no self-respect. She thinks of herself as a “mud-splattered scullery-maid”, continues to belittle herself, thinks of the Dragon as her “lord” and when I read: “I hadn’t even known those words were in me to be spoken; […] I would never have thought of speaking so to my lord, the Dragon”, I just wanted to scream “GIVE ME A BREAK!” Oh God, how I hated her attitude. Some things that didn’t make the cut for my review: - the Dragon has no personality whatsoever and let’s not talk about any form of character development - apparently the main character is so clumsy, she can’t go a single day without scorching, ripping or staining her clothes and at one point she even manages to wander in “with a clump of rice pudding on top of [her] head—[she] had accidentally hit a spoon with [her] elbow and flung some into the air—” I mean, PLEEEEEEEAAAAAAAASEEEEEEEEE - there was some really weird thing going on where it’s not direct speech and when other characters wouldn’t hear Agnieszka''s thoughts but then the Dragon would reply to her (eg. ''I was increasingly aware of the weight of stone around us, of silence. It felt like a tomb. "It is a tomb,” he said.). What was that all about?? Avoid, AVOID.
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Louise Marley
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Uprooted
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 10, 2018
I chose this book because one of the book bloggers I follow (Chelsea at The Suspense is Thrilling Me) was raving about it and we have similar taste in books. Anyway, I absolutely adored it and now Naomi Novik is one of my favourite authors. When I began reading Uprooted it...See more
I chose this book because one of the book bloggers I follow (Chelsea at The Suspense is Thrilling Me) was raving about it and we have similar taste in books. Anyway, I absolutely adored it and now Naomi Novik is one of my favourite authors. When I began reading Uprooted it reminded me at first of a cross between Beauty and the Beast and Howl''s Moving Castle. It starts, very cleverly, with the tale of a village by a wood, guarded by a Dragon who chooses a maiden every ten years to take back to his tower. Our heroine, Agnieszka, is confident he won''t choose her, because she''s messy and clumsy and outspoken - surely he''ll pick her pretty friend Kasia instead? The first trick the author plays on us is that the Dragon is actually a very powerful wizard, and the plans he has for those girls he''s taking from the village are not quite what everyone believes... As the story develops it grows into something different, into its own fairy tale, about a Wood that corrupts and why, and the battle between what lives there and those who want to raze it to the ground. Rather than having a beginning, middle and end, Uprooted is almost episodic, detailing Agneiszka''s adventures as she learns to work with the Dragon to help her people and solve the mystery of the Wood''s power. Uprooted is a YA fantasy with crossover appeal, and while there is a bit of a romance it is mainly about Agneiszka''s journey as she learns more about her surroundings and herself. It is a thoroughly enchanting story and I loved the characters, especially Agneiszka and Sarkan, and the unusual ending, which I won''t spoil for you. The only parts that left me cold were the battle scenes, because that''s not my thing, and sometimes Agneiszka seemed a bit immature - but then Uprooted is YA and I''m not the target audience! One of my favourite reads this year!
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Book Lover
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Brilliant writing and a beautiful story.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 2, 2016
Uprooted is a brilliant, haunting, lyrical, frightening, complex and stunning fairytale. It’s a story of someone finding her place in the world, in terms of magic, personality, life, heart and home. It’s a story of a fight against evil and the complex, shifting shades of...See more
Uprooted is a brilliant, haunting, lyrical, frightening, complex and stunning fairytale. It’s a story of someone finding her place in the world, in terms of magic, personality, life, heart and home. It’s a story of a fight against evil and the complex, shifting shades of grey that haunt every moral decision. It’s a love story and a story about change. Agnieszka is a wonderful narrator, uncertain and afraid, angry and passionate, charming and honest. Her voice is clear throughout the book and even when we only see what she does, the plot is still very clear, and the other characters drawn with enough lines to make them complex and understandable, even as we see them through her eyes. And Sarkan, I love. You never find out too much about him; it’s just drabs, snippets, and he always seems impenetrable and aloof, even when he’s helping or annoyed or there. He’s beautifully written and is a wonderfully solid presence. Kasia is the only one who is less well-rounded of the major characters; she seems uncertain, unable to fight for herself, and we rarely see what she thinks. I would have liked her to be a little stronger, a little more of a presence; but then she could have overshadowed the major characters, so I can appreciate why she is drawn with subtler strokes. The plot is enchanting; dancing from moment to moment, easily transferring between places. I admit I found the middle frustrating, the Court scenes; I nearly stopped reading! It felt like a return to the fantasy tropes, the little woodsy girl trapsing around the court, being made fun of, and eventually she’ll find her place or grow up or…I don’t know, I just raged silently against it. I wanted to return to the interesting part of the story! But I did keep reading, and the story caught me again. It’s got war, love, hatred, evil…it’s exciting and thrilling, had me turning pages and not wanting to stop. And then end is lovely. A really rounded, fitting one. Love, love, love. A hard copy is on my wishlist and it’ll stay on the bookshelves as a read and re-read; it’s something that I will be happy to go back to, pick up and dip into, read through without wanting to stop. It’s brilliant writing and a beautiful story.
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