There is something about the woods, some primordial fear that has been nagging away at all of us, at the entirety of humanity, long before we learned to create fires, long before we began making tools; a fear that’s been with us since our very inception, as evident in that most precious of folklore – fairy tales.
Uprooted blends fantasy and fairy tale seamlessly, in rich and imaginative ways. The young protagonist, Agniezska, is a completely charming protagonist, and above all else, she is completely, and absolutely real. The novel is written from her point of view, and it couldn’t be the better for it.
While I enjoyed the protagonist one other character stole the spotlight from Niezsa once or twice – The Dragon, Sarkan! I’ve a penchant for characters who use a moniker, and being a powerful sorcerer doesn’t hurt. This one starts off a bit undignified and even cruel with the help, but there’s hope yet; and it is when the two main characters find synchronicity that Uprooted develops
There is so much to love in Uprooted, even if we disregard the main characters for a moment. Here’s a few bullet points:
- Agniezska’s best friend Kasia, who goes through a shock when the Dragon doesn’t choose her for ten years worth’ of maid duty. In another book, Kasia would’ve been our point of view character. She is beautiful and smart, and entirely larger than life, and as soon as The Dragon’s choice is made, she is also a stranger in her own home.
- Naomi Novik captures the essence of Slavic mythology well, and builds a world that is true in tone to Eastern European folklore.
- The Woods are a terrifying force that slowly grows, overtaking all in its path. It’s seriously creepy.
- There’s a fat wizard called the Hawk, or the Eagle, or the Fat Wizard. He’s fun.
- If you’d like to read Naomi Novik, I suggest you don’t start with Uprooted. It’s just so much better than her first “Temeraire” book.
- That last point isn’t a drawback—just keep it in mind.
The novel is, at times, far darker than you’d originally assume; that doesn’t stop it from being a delightfully amusing read. Uprooted is something of an emotional roller coaster, but I enjoyed every page of it.