Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Rating: Enjoyable
Publisher: Del Rey (May 19, 2015)
Publication Date: May 19, 2015
Sold by: Random House LLC
Language: English

“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."

I have previously been a fan of Novik's "Temeraire" series which is an alternate history set during the 1700s and had dragons. So when I saw Novik had branched out this I was keen to try.

This book is not an alternate history like her Temaraire series. It is straight up fantasy. But while it is a fantasy, there was a strong link to European (I believe Polish) culture and mythology which is evident through out the book. The names of characters, places and the mythological beings all reflection the Polish back ground. Also while there  is technically a dragon, it is just a wizard who has that name.

The main character Agnieszka was an interesting character to see the world from. She was smart and adventurous. I did have problems with her relationship with the Prince and the Dragon. Her relationship with the Dragon seemed kind of "Stockholm Syndrome"-ish. I really couldn't see how in short space of time they spent time together that she could go from hating and distrusting him to liking him. So I have put it down to her being his captive and kind of imprinting on him. The Prince was a jerk and deserved more then a punch to the face. I can understand why Agnieszka and the Dragon didn't take things further but still that whole relationship felt forced and weird. Also don't get me started on creep leacher wizard, but at least he was never anything more then he was.

Novak is able to balance a fast paced story, with development and world building. The world was interesting and I enjoyed the characters. There were some minor plot holes or things that maybe were not explained fully but overall it was a good story that kept moving easily.

I enjoyed the book, it didn't wow me but it was a good break away book and holds promise of being an interesting series (if it turns into series). If you are a fan of Novik then you should enjoy

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