Saturday, January 7, 2017

Uprooted by Naomi Novik


Oh, this was a much, much, MUCH better read than my previous one!

Uprooted has it's roots in what I have to assume is Polish/Slavic legend and mythology.  The story, to me, has that almost familiar feel to it.  Not instantly recognisable but it's not totally alien, if you know what I mean.

The book is written in the first person POV and the heroine is a young, seventeen year-old, girl and is the basically the story of how she is chosen to serve The Dragon (the local wizard) for the next 10 years. As the tale progresses, we learn about the evil that lives in The Woods and how The Dragon works to keep it at bay and the people of the valley safe.  But it's really far more complex than that.

Agnieszka has no little power of her own, it turns out and it's different from any type of magic that is currently known.  Yes, she's young, but she doesn't read at all like the heroines of those YA fantasies that I abhor.  She's a village girl who knows the difference between flights of fancy and real life.  She learns and grows throughout the book, but to me she always retained a little bit of the fun that she displayed in the early chapters and flashbacks to her childhood.

The Dragon, is a powerful wizard, whose actual name is Sarkan, and he's been around the block even though he looks like a young man.  Except for the lines around his eyes when you get up close.  He has no patience and is a grumpy git.  Persnickety and fussy.  I quite liked him.  :)  He has been working hard over the decades to keep the valley safe and the evil from spreading, so he's allowed a little bit of annoyance, I think.

So, yes, we have the retelling of some fables and legends, we have a fantasy novel where the good magic fights against the bad and we have a bit of a love story.  One thing I liked a lot was that neither character had to change for their love story, they just grew  And the love story was really only a minor part of their story.  Very important, but minor.  :)

One of my favourite characters was Alosha, one of the other wizards. I wish we had seen more of her, but I understand why we didn't.  I also really liked Kasia, Agnieszka's bestie.  I thought she was just going to be a small part of the first quarter of the book, but nope!

So, yes, my second read of the year was totally delightful and I'm glad that I finally caved in and put it on my Christmas list.  (It had never really grabbed my attention until Heidi Cullinan - at least I think it was Heidi - read it and mentioned how much she enjoyed it.)  And thanks, Mike, for putting it under the tree for me.  :)

Highly recommended!

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