Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Posted June 16, 2015 by Spetzi in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Young Adult / 0 Comments

On a fantasy parchment background, a girl in a hood holds a sparkling rose out with one hand, the other raised palm out as if to cast a spell. (This YA review was written by Spetzi, 11)

Uprooted by Naomi Novik is another one of the great fantasy novels I have read. Really, I only have one main problem with it. It was too short. In this book, we are told of the dragon, a wizard who has dedicated his life to protecting the valley and the rest of the kingdom from the corrupted wood. And while he might SEEM great, the people of the valley aren’t entirely grateful for his services. After all, he takes one of the valley’s girls every ten years and keeps them as a sort of maid. They might not have minded as much if she came back unchanged, but she comes back more of a lady of the court than the villager she once was. With pockets full of silver, they head into the capital and marry into high families or become scholars. But that’s just the beginning of the story, barely important at all.

What IS important, though, are Kasia and Agnieszka (never read this book out loud, the names will get you) who are in the age group to be a choice in this years picking. Of course, everyone in the valley knows it will be Kasia. They’ve known it since she was little, and it’s no secret that she has been “training” to go into the dragon’s service. Kasia and Agnieszka have been best friends since they were just toddlers, but their parents never had the heart to pull them away from each other even though they know it would be best for them both after she was chosen for the dragon. Agnieszka, with the ability to ruin any outfit she wears, has no doubt in her mind that the dragon will never choose her and her filthy outfits, especially when she manages to ruin everything. So it comes as the biggest shock of her life when the dragon gives her a ball of cold fire to hold and calls her his next selection. I didn’t particularly care for the author’s portrayal of the dragon as a cold, uninterested person a first, but if you are anything like me, you will appreciate his attitude in the end.

Agnieszka finds a note left in the kitchen and a book of recipes to help her cook what she is going to bring to the dragon to eat, but doesn’t find the second note until later. Without realizing it, she begins to learn magic and soon finds her only comfort in it (that others had done it and been fine) is crushed when the second note explains that he just wants his meals and not to be disturbed. This didn’t surprise me, since I had picked up she had unusual magic from the cover, but Naomi’s writings of it being difficult to learn magic and some people being better at some types of magic than others interested me and got me excited for what kind of magic she wold be best at. I definitely was not expecting her to be good at the only magic others couldn’t do: magic that isn’t strictly certain phrases but their own.. song, I guess?

My other problem with the book, not the main one but important, is that there was really no reason for Prince Marek to try to have raped her. It makes minorly important callbacks later in the story, but I honestly thought the book would’ve been better without it. There was really no point to it, and it made me not like the book as much because I thought it didn’t belong in this fantasy novel. I didn’t hate Mavek, and I had no problem with him going into the wood  to try and find his mother, but I DID hate that scene. (When he forced Agnieszka and the dragon to go along with him  it didn’t make sense to me until I understood what he was going to do and I was fine with it after.)

(Spetzi has placed the rest of this review behind a spoiler tag. Major plot points or a full summary may be revealed.)

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Read this book if you love magic battles and want something amazing.