I’ve always been somewhat of a bookworm. I find using visual imagery comes easily to me, which makes reading that much more enjoyable. I love being taken to faraway places and seeing exactly how my mind pictures the characters and the scenery. Fantasy and some sci-fi (since vampires seem to fall into that category) are favorites of mine. It’s been a long while since I’ve been able to enjoy a good book due to studying, so I decided to take a break and do a little leisure reading instead. I saw Uprooted by Naomi Novik was recommended to me on Goodreads, so I went to the library to check it out.
The story begins with a tale of The Dragon. The Dragon isn’t an actual dragon, but a wizard that selects a girl from one of the towns in the valley every 10 years to be his companion.
Our Dragon doesn’t 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 her were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s 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 we’re grateful, but not that grateful.
Agnieszka loves living in the valley, despite the dark powers of the Wood lording over her and all who live there. She has a knack for discovering the best the forest has to offer – rare flowers, edible mushrooms, or berries just before they’re due to come – as well as getting dirty. When the Dragon comes to her village to select a girl, it is all but known that he will select Agnieszka’s best friend, Kasia. Kasia is beautiful, graceful, and has learned to cook and sew, but the Dragon does not select her, going instead for Agnieszka.
It turns out Agnieszka is a witch and the Dragon sensed her magic. As a wizard, it is his duty to train one with these magical properties, and so despite Agnieszka’s clumsiness and dirty appearance, she goes to live with him for the 10 years. They work together on learning magic and she finds his stiff and proper ways with magic difficult for her. Her style is more based on feelings and imagery instead of fancy words, and she finds help in the books and notes written by Baba Jaga (Based on the always awesome, Baby Yaga). Together the Dragon and Agnieszka discover the truth behind the Wood while realizing their own feelings of fondness towards each other and how to potentially save the valley.
Agnieszka is incredibly stubborn sometimes, and often a bit naive, but with her inexperience she finds exactly what she needs to accomplish what she wants. Although there is a bit of a love story in the book, it’s by no means a love story. There are themes of true friendship and discovery of oneself through true honesty. Agnieszka really comes into her own and it’s wonderful watching her grow throughout the novel.
The imagery in this book is stunning, with great attention to details and making the entire world they live in truly magical. Reading through the battles, while full of great detail, were captivating and not the lease bit tedious, which I sometimes find battle scenes to be. My favorite description of the entire book is of The Wood. Once we truly discover the Wood, the way Novik sets the scene is dark and lovely all at the same time.
I found myself longing for the characters after finishing and wishing the world really was filled with spells and wizards and magic. If you love immersing into a world of magic and fantasy, definitely read Uprooted.