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Uprooted Kindle Edition
WINNER OF THE NEBULA AWARD, THE LOCUS AWARD AND THE BRITISH FANTASY AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL 2016
From the author of the Temeraire series comes this hugely imaginative, engrossing and vivid fantasy novel, inspired by folk and fairy tales.
"Wild, thrilling, and deeply, darkly magical. An instant classic." Lev Grossman, author of the The Magicians
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.
From the author of the Temeraire series comes this hugely imaginative, engrossing and vivid fantasy novel, inspired by folk and fairy tales. It is perfect reading for fans of Robin Hobb and Trudi Canavan.
PRAISE FOR UPROOTED
"Uprooted has everything I love: a great heroine, new takes on old myths and legends, and surprising twists and turns. A delight." Cassandra Clare
"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
"Magical and practical, otherworldly and planted in the real, I could NOT stop reading this book and neither will you!" Tamora Pierce
"Uprooted by Naomi Novik is enchanting, in every sense of that fine old word. A charming and inviting story that looks unflinchingly at the strangling roots of hurt and revenge." Robin Hobb
"I didn't know how much I wanted to read a book like this until it was already in my hands. Uprooted has everything I love about Novik's writing style, with the added bonus of some old world magic and the flavor of a dark faerie story." Patrick Rothfuss
"A beguiling novel" Independent, SFF Books of the Year
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About the Author
Naomi Novik is the acclaimed author of the Temeraire series. 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 the graphic novel Will Supervillains Be on the Final?
Fascinated with both history and legends, Novik is a first-generation American raised on Polish fairy tales and stories of Baba Yaga. Her own adventures include pillaging degrees in English literature and computer science from various ivory towers, designing computer games, and helping to build the Archive of Our Own for fanfiction and other fanworks. Novik is a co-founder of the Organization for Transformative Works.
She lives in New York City with husband and Hard Case Crime founder Charles Ardai and their daughter, Evidence, surrounded by an excessive number of purring computers.
- ASIN : B00UBL1GGK
- Publisher : Tor UK; Air Iri OME edition (1 June 2015)
- Language : English
- File size : 5314 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 486 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 8,850 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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Please do yourself a favour and read this book. Better than the exasperating convolutions of game of thrones and far more interesting anyway.
Basically every new character introduced would fall victim to the Wood. Our MC would realise too late or be too intimidated by the hardheaded people in authority over her to do anything useful about it until it’s too late and everyone is dead.
I understand the author is trying to portray a strong female protagonist without the cliche attitude and sass, instead she is clumsy and different. However, it was a bit ridiculous the way she gets really dirty doesn’t actually make sense and the fact she doesn’t care about her presentation at all. She’d rather look like a scullery maid than be mildly presentable and then she’s surprised no one takes her seriously and doesn’t listen to her.
Had a lot of promise at the start, but unfortunately all of 40% onwards just turned into this long winded goose chase that resulted in everyone being idiotic, foolish, and then dying to the Wood. Any character development was pointless because the likeable characters were literally built so they could be killed off or used by the Wood.
So frustrating and by 80% I couldn’t care less about anything since everyone except the main 3 characters were alive and would probably survive to save the day anyway. The Dragon was mildly interesting but the romantic subplot was mediocre and did not redeem the rest of the book. The fighting scenes, magic system and the darkness of the Wood I really enjoyed.
I liked this book a lot although it’s not the kind of grimdark fantasy I usually read – the story reads like a modern-day retelling of a folk tale (and in the postscript Naomi Novik describes how her Polish grandmother’s story-telling is an influence). While traditional in style, it is very imaginative and the quality of the writing is consistently high (which is refreshing after some of the recent books I’ve read). It’s also suitable for most – there is sex, violence and horror but it’s not overdone. The ending was also a bit of a surprise and I’ll be looking for more writing from NN who I hadn’t previously heard of.
I loved the protagonist Agnieszka and the parallels drawn to Baba Yaga, the Dragon actually reminded me a bit of Howl from Howl's moving castle, and the antagonist was fascinating. Even though the it is portrayed as the source of evil, badness etc, the story behind it was captivating and I actually sympathised as to why it turned out like that.
I would definitely reread this again.
Top reviews from other countries
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.