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Uprooted by Naomi Novik


by Naomi Novik

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,0182262,800 (4.17)299
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» See also 299 mentions

English (218)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (222)
Showing 1-5 of 218 (next | show all)
I love this book. I love the way the author writes about magic. I like the eastern European setting and culture. I like the plot - so much happens! I like the world-building. The whole conception of the forest and the way it operates is very good, and reminds me a bit of Tolkien. Even the romance, which suprised me, was good, even though it's the typical emotional unavailable man, tsundere type of relationship. Oh also, I loved what happened with Kasia throughout the book. OMG, and Alosha was awesome! I like that each wizard had their own unique style of magic, like a superhero.

100 emoji. ( )
  xiaomarlo | Apr 17, 2019 |
“I don’t want more sense!” I said loudly, beating against the silence of the room. “Not if sense means I’ll stop loving anyone. What is there besides people that’s worth holding on to?”

I read "Spinning Silver" first and liked it a lot. “Uprooted”, I’d heard, was even better and while it’s certainly a great book, I’m not actually sure if “Spinning Silver”’s minor pacing flaw wouldn’t have made this book even better.

“Uprooted” tells the story of Agnieszka who lives in a small village near the Wood. Capital letter, because it’s an evil wood! Evil as in, monsters roaming it and everyone going into it either staying there, never to be seen again, or coming out corrupted to the core.

Fortunately, a Dragon (who is actually a wizard called Sarkan) lives nearby and protects the village and its inhabitants – albeit at a price because every ten years he takes a daughter from the village and this time it’s Agnieszka. Afterwards, chaos ensues.

A good, highly entertaining chaos with, admittedly, a lot of method behind it but a bit breathless. Where “Spinning Silver” was slow at times because Novik took time to tell her story slowly and with great care, “Uprooted” mostly rushes through the highly enjoyable story. It feels like the story practically broke free from Novik, as if it simply had to get out and be told without any delay:

“The swelling heat of it filled me, burning bright, almost unbearable.”

You don’t leisurely read “Uprooted”; you feverishly turn the pages as fast as you can, you wolf it down in large chunks, not wasting any time with chewing carefully. You just want, no, need to get your fill of the story!

Yes, it’s that exciting. The excitement is so great, though, that it can become if not almost unbearable but slightly tiresome.

I just wish Novik had paced her storytelling a bit – why not tell us more about Agnieszka’s first months in Sarkan’s tower after having been chosen?

Why not tell us more about the wizards at the king’s court, especially Alosha? What about Sigmund? The children? The princess?

There are so many interesting and potentially lovable characters who make a – more or less – short appearance and are only ever mentioned again in passing. After all, pretty much all characters are so wonderfully human with their strengths, their weaknesses and everything that makes them so believable.

The breakneck speed at which large parts of the story are told doesn’t leave much room for pure literary enjoyment, it doesn’t lend itself to thoughts about guilt and redemption as was the case in “Spinning Silver”. It doesn’t leave enough room for losing oneself among the pages – the Wood is always lurking just around the corner and the reader never feels entirely safe; it’s literally “one trap after another”.

In spite of my criticism, I really, really enjoyed this book – it's a fairy tale gone (action) thriller in part and it has the same dry subtle humour that I loved about “Spinning Silver”...

“but the thought of putting a knife into a man was something else, unimaginable. So I didn’t imagine it. I only put the knife on the tray, and went upstairs.”

… and the same beautiful and relatable style:

“Happiness was bubbling up through me, a bright stream laughing.”

Ultimately, "Uprooted” is a book that leaves me hungering for more. Hopefully a bit more relaxed and laid-back next time, a bit more like “Spinning Silver”. In fact, since we're talking about modern fairy tales, let me make a wish:

Dear Naomi Novik, creator of amazing literary worlds, first among the fair folk, gifted among authors, please write a book that combines “Uprooted”’s thrills with "Spinning Silver”'s depth and eternal praise be yours!

P. S.: Naomi, what’s that grudge against poor squirrels?

“I stumbled over the torn and spoiled body of a rabbit or a squirrel, killed as far as I could see just for cruelty;” (Uprooted)

“He had a small bow and arrow, and shot squirrels, and when he hit them, he came and looked at their little dead bodies with pleasure.” (Spinning Silver) ( )
  philantrop | Mar 28, 2019 |
*Review originally posted on goodreads.com*

“We were of the valley. Born in the valley, of families planted too deep to leave even when they knew their daughter might be taken; raised in the valley, drinking of whatever power also fed the Wood.”

I debated on the rating, because my true rating would be 3.5 stars, but I didn't feel as though rounding it up to 4 was quite accurate. With that being said, Uprooted is a gorgeous fantasy novel that really pulled me in from page one and I felt instantly transported to this world through Naomi Novik's lovely prose.

Our protagonist, Agnieszka, has grown up in the village of Dvernik in the kingdom of Polnya, which closely borders the dreaded Wood. The Wood is notoriously dangerous and also responsible for the stark divide and tension brewing in the kingdom and its people. As payment for protection from The Wood, the village people of Dvernik offer The Dragon (a powerful but reclusive and mysterious wizard) a teenage girl of his choosing every ten years. What happens to the girls while in captivity is shrouded in mystery and rumors, and while they are never killed, they emerge from their decade-long tenure completely changed and never to return to their previous homes and lives.

As they approach the next offering, the village has been preparing for him to take Kasia next - a girl known for her exceptional beauty and intelligence - exactly the type that The Dragon typically selects. He stuns everyone, however, by taking the seemingly plain and clumsy Agnieszka instead. The novel really takes off from there, as Agnieszka figures out her new "normal", is suddenly thrust into circumstances she had never anticipated, discovers new and exciting qualities she never knew she possessed, and finds herself right in the very center of the battle with The Wood - with everything and everyone she has ever loved at stake.

There was a lot to love about this novel, but I had some minor complaints as well. So let's break it down and start with the good...

I love a strong female protagonist and I found Agnieszka, with all of her endearing faults, to be a very likeable heroine. She is intelligent, resourceful, scrappy, clumsy, brave, stubborn, and fiercely loyal. I especially loved her dynamic with The Dragon and her ability to stand up to and challenge him. I was also particularly captivated and intrigued by the character of The Dragon/Sarkan himself and found myself most interested in the story whenever he was gracing the pages.

As mentioned before, I enjoyed Naomi Novik's writing style and found her descriptions (especially of The Wood) to be rich and gorgeously vivid. I also loved the roots of Eastern European folklore woven into the core of the story.

The book is also absolutely chock full of interesting characters that I wanted to spend so much more time with, which actually brings me to my gripes with this novel...

Character development in general was a bit of an issue for me with this one, and I wanted/needed to know SO MUCH MORE about The Dragon/Sarkan's backstory. In fact, there were several characters that I wanted to know so much more about (The Wood Queen is another that comes to mind), but I think The Dragon/Sarkan was the most interesting character in the novel and he didn't receive the character backstory and development that he deserved. I also felt like there were long chunks of the book that he wasn't present for but should have been, and I would have loved to see more development between him and Agnieszka. I also felt that the character of Kasia was frequently overshadowed and underutilized, as she was a fantastic and equally commendable heroine in her own right!

Also, as some other reviewers have mentioned, there were times where the pacing felt a bit...off. There were scenes that contained important plot points but felt rushed and glossed over, while other sections that didn't add much to the meat of the story were much more drawn out. The pacing felt consistent and appropriate for the first half of the novel, but then suddenly and drastically ramped up, which made it difficult to adjust to the sudden and overwhelming expansion of this universe and did not provide enough time to get to know and care about the onslaught of new characters. Another reviewer mentioned something along the lines of there being too much story crammed into one book, which I agree with. This easily could've been a series, or two books at the very least, which I think would've done wonders in terms of character development and pacing. While the plot advanced too quickly in my opinion, it actually took me a while to finish this book because I had to go back and re-read some sections a few times because it was advancing so fast that I thought maybe I'd missed something.

Overall though, this was an engrossing, beautiful story with interesting characters, lovely prose, and everything you could hope for in a fantasy novel - adventure, overcoming adversity, misunderstood characters, action, romance, war, hometown allegiance, friendship, family, magic, and love.

All in all, I think the good definitely outweighed the bad, and if you like fantasy even a little bit (and heck, even if you don't), I would still definitely recommend Uprooted. ( )
  tayritch | Mar 14, 2019 |
Agnieszka lives in a village on the edge of the magical, malevolent Wood. Its power is held in check by the mysterious wizard who lives in the tower and is known to her people only as the Dragon. Once a decade, the Dragon chooses a young woman from the village population, and she serves as his maidservant for the next ten years. Of course, he chooses Angieszka (or else this wouldn't be her story).

I went into this book expecting a romance in the Beauty and the Beast vein, and at times the author seems to think she is writing a romance, but that's not what this book is. It's a dark, violent fantasy in which the villain of the tale turns out (in the final ten percent) to be more interesting than any of the heroes and in which none of the heroes are given a true character arc. The romance thread is stilted and confusing, dropped for a hundred pages in the middle of the book and then picked up again without any growth of Agnieszka or the Dragon toward each other emotionally. Every time they interact, the Dragon is verbally abusing and degrading Agnieszka; or the two of them are creating magic together; or they are having sex for no apparent reason (this occurs only once but it comes from absolutely nowhere and is a surprisingly explicit scene).

The age gap between the Dragon and Agnieszka (150-year-old sorcerer, teen peasant girl) inevitably brings the Edward/Bella trope to mind. The Dragon is surly and insulting. Agnieszka is clumsy and ordinary and un-beautiful and just happens to be one of the most gifted witches born in a century. She frequently upstages the Dragon's magic abilities despite the text telling us that he is the most powerful wizard in the land. She also several times points out the obvious in such a way that everyone else in the room stares in awe at her strategic acumen.

And then there's the writing itself. So many words could be cut from this text. So many. Every paragraph is swollen with adverbs. The Dragon isn't angry; he's "furiously angry" and in the next paragraph "even more wildly angry." He's not sarcastic; he's "cuttingly sarcastic." People say things "silkily," "dismissively," "unhappily," "horrifyingly," and on and on. Explanations of events, actions, and dialogue are given at every turn, even over the most obvious things. I felt like shouting "I GOT IT!" at nearly every page of this book.

The storyworld is interesting. The Wood itself is the most interesting element of the story. But none of the characters, not even Agnieszka and the Dragon, possess the individual human nuances needed to breathe them to life. This one wasn't worth it for me. ( )
  AmandaGStevens | Mar 2, 2019 |
I checked this book out at my local library!

I loved this adaptation of traditional fairytales! Agnieszka is an enchanting protagonist. A young woman who does not feel that she compares to her best friend, she is astonished when she is picked to go live with the town's lord and wizard, the Dragon. She learns that she possesses the ability to work magic and yet she struggles to find purpose in that skill, or to feel adept. Then her magic draws her to the answers...Jaga magic. Her magic is different so she must prove, both to herself and the other mages, that it is as powerful and capable as theirs.

This is a coming of age book, wrapped in fairytale, wrapped in strong female characters. ( )
  Velmeran | Jan 26, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 218 (next | show all)
The pages turn and the Kindle screens swipe with alacrity. An early expedition into the Wood to rescue a long-missing Queen is particularly white-knuckle. Temeraire fans will be pleased to know that a superb tower-under-siege sequence demonstrates that Novik has lost none of her facility for making complex battle scenes clear and exciting. And Agnieszka remains a scrappy, appealing hero throughout. It’s just that one can’t help but be reminded that Novik’s Temeraire series will conclude next year as a nine-novel cycle and wonder why a writer so skilled at pacing a long, complicated chronicle over multiple books has crammed this story into one.

It’s as if Novik is overcorrecting for the kind of Hollywood bloat that causes studios to split fantasy-novel adaptations into multiple films. Here, she packs an entire trilogy into a single book. Agnieszka’s corridors-of-power adventures in Polnya’s capital have kind of a middle-volume vibe to them, while some fascinating late-breaking revelations about the nature of the Wood definitely feel like they deserve their own dedicated installment. I felt this most particularly in Agnieszka’s evolution as a character. While it’s thrilling in the book’s final third to read about her taking control of her own magical identity as a latter-day Baba Yaga, it does feel as though it’s happened without giving her the opportunity to explore a few blind-alley identities on the way there.
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Naomi Novikprimary authorall editionscalculated
McKowen, ScottCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, David G.Cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zucker, Christopher M.Designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
Our Dragon doesn't eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside the valley.
She'd remembered the wrong things, and forgotten too much. She'd remembered how to kill and how to hate, and she'd forgotten how to grow.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Seventeen-year-old Agnieszka is unexpectedly chosen by The Dragon, her valley's resident wizard, to be his companion in a ritual enacted every 10 years. As she finds herself thrust into a world of magic, she's shocked to learn that she is herself a powerful witch. Prince Marek enlists the help of The Dragon and Agnieszka to help rescue his mother the Queen, who has been ensnared in the evil Wood for decades. But even if they manage to rescue the Queen, will she emerge uncorrupted by the evil spirits who imprisoned her or will her freedom endanger the existence of the kingdom itself?
Haiku summary
Agnieszka helps
the Dragon battle the dark
power of the Wood.

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WINNER OF THE NEBULA AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL ?Naomi Novik, author of the New York Times? bestselling and critically acclaimed Temeraire novels, introduces a bold new world rooted in folk stories and legends, as elemental as a Grimm fairy tale. HUGO AWARD FINALIST NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR |?BuzzFeed | Tor.com | BookPage |?Library Journal | Publishers Weekly Uprooted is confidently wrought and sympathetically cast. I might even call it bewitching.Gregory Maguire, bestselling author of Wicked and Egg & Spoon Our Dragon doesnt 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 thats not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but hes 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 were 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 knowseveryone knowsthat the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isnt, 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 Ive Read Yet This Year. . . . Moving, heartbreaking, and thoroughly satisfying, Uprooted is the fantasy novel I feel Ive been waiting a lifetime for. Clear your schedule before picking it up, because you wont 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… (more)

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