Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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In the past couple of years, I have read many good books but none that truly blew me away. I came across Uprooted because a colleague of mine suggested that we join a book club together and the March book happens to be Uprooted. It is one of the best books I’ve read in ages and after finishing it, I feel like re-reading it all over again. I won’t go into any details about the storyline as I don’t want to spoil it for you butinstead, I’ll talk about the reasons why I enjoyed it.

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 am a big fan of fantasy and this book does what only a few books have succeeded in (such as Harry Potter, Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials) – it creates a different world that is vividly described and comes to live in the reader’s imagination. We’re talking about magic, spells, beasts and unknown powers lurking in the Wood, war, power struggle, love, etc. It is well written and an easy read, with the story progressing quickly and there’s never a dull moment.

Within the first chapter, I was fully immersed and lost in this fantasy world. From the simple life in the Valley which reminds me of the Shire from Lord of the Rings, to the darkness and uneasiness of the Wood and the politics and deceit in the Capital, it’s a great escape and adventure. The main characters are also well developed and easy to relate to. I love Agnieszka, our protagonist who is strong but also clumsy, naïve and loveable. On the other hand, the Dragon is stern, rigid and sarcastic, but strangely enough a good complement for Agnieszka.

If I had to come up with a criticism, it’s that the story could have been made longer or even into a trilogy so that the side characters are better developed too. Or maybe that’s just because I feel so empty now that I’ve finished the book and wished there was more! If I’m not mistaken, Hollywood already has the rights to produce a movie based on this book. The storyline is perfect for a movie; let’s hope that Hollywood does it justice!

I forgot to mention – if anyone has a great book of similar genre, please recommend it to me 🙂

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