Title: Uprooted

Author: Naomi Novik

Series: N/A

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Release Date: May 19th 2015


Five Stars

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 knows – everyone knows – that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, 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.

Uprooted is a hugely imaginative, engrossing and vivid fantasy novel, inspired by folk and fairy tales by Naomi Novik, the author of the Temeraire series. It is perfect reading for fans of Robin Hobb and Trudi Canavan.

– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“Everyone says you love a Dragon-born girl differently as she gets older; you can’t help it, knowing you so easily might lose her.”

In her village, every ten years, the Dragon takes a girl from their family. When she returns she is changed; she never stays in their valley alongside the Woods for long, instead she leaves and never returns. Agnieszka is born in the year when the Dragon will take another girl but she’s never worried that she will be picked. Instead her best friend Kasia is the one who everyone believes will be chosen; she is gorgeous, strong, graceful, and her whole life she has been trained to serve the Dragon.

Then, when he arrives in the village, he picks Agnieszka. With barely a change to catch her breath let alone say goodbye to her family and her friends she is whisked away to the Dragons tower and left there. Scared and alone Agnieszka takes comfort in the notes previous girls have left her to navigate life with the Dragon, but the way he treats her is very different. Instead he starts teaching her magic, magic Agnieszka didn’t even realise she had but magic which leaves her drained and exhausted with the smallest incantation.

“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.”

Agnieszka doesn’t want to learn magic, all she wants to do is survive the ten years alongside the Dragon and return home. She doesn’t tolerate his lessons but that all changes when Kasia is taken by the Walkers. Living alongside the Woods has always been a danger for people in Agnieszka’s village. If they wander too close they can find themselves losing their minds, changed forever and corrupted by a dark force. Agnieszka knows it is unlikely Kasia is still alive and uncorrupted but she refuses to leave her friend to die in the Woods.

However saving Kasia will have dramatic effects on the lives of everyone in her small village and their kingdom. Now that one person has been saved the Prince believes his mother, who went into the Woods twenty years ago, can be saved as well.

…The Characters

“I missed home like the ache of hunger, something in me left empty. I’d missed it every day since we crossed out of the valley, going over the mountains. Roots—yes. There were roots in my heart, as deep as any corruption could go.”

Agnieszka never believed she would be taken by the Dragon. she’s always wandering into the woods and always getting her clothes filthy despite all efforts otherwise, but she loves Kasia so she will make an effort to be presentable when the Dragon comes. When Agnieszka is picked by the Dragon instead she doesn’t expect it, she never prepared for it and finds herself in a completely foreign situation.

She doesn’t want to master the magic she has, until her friends life is in danger. Agnieszka has a new form of magic the Dragon cannot understand, but she soon throws herself into it determined to find any way to help her friend.

The relationship between Kasia and Agnieszka was one of the best friendships I’ve read. Despite believing at first Kasia would be chosen by the Dragon Agnieszka does not love her any less like the rest of the village, she doesn’t keep her distance instead she loves her more. However when Agnieszka is chosen it throws both girls off. Neither were expecting it and it changes the course of both their lives leaving them with unexplored emotions of resentment, anger and fear.

“I had hated him, but I wouldn’t have reproached him, any more than I would have reproached a bolt of lightning for striking my house. He wasn’t a person, he was a lord and a wizard, a strange creature on another plane entirely, as far removed as storms and pestilence.”

The Dragon has locked himself away from the village he is a Lord over. He holds himself away and the only time he really interacts with the people is when he takes one of their daughters. Despite his distance the Dragon cares about magic; he sees it as an art and a gift and he is incredibly frustrated by Agnieszka’s disregard for his lessons, her weariness over the smallest enchantments, and later his inability to understand how her magic works. The Dragon has dedicated his life to controlling the Woods, believing one day it will take over the whole valley with no one to push it back.

“I grabbed back at him just as incautiously with my hand and my magic both, even as he pressed magic on me from his side as well. His breath huffed out sharply, and our workings caught on one another, magic gushing into them.”

The dynamic between Agnieszka and Dragon was interesting to read. Neither of them really tolerates the other at first but as Agnieszka learns more about her magic, and actually takes his lessons seriously, the Dragon starts to understand her a little better, if not fully able to understand her magic. Agnieszka resents him for taking girls every ten years and as she grows more confident she isn’t shy about telling him that. The two work well together combining their strength and their magic to save Kasia, create illusions, and fight back against the Woods.

The other characters were just as well written. Prince Marek, who would normally be the hero of this fairytale, was instead more of a spoilt child. He believed his mother could be saved and was willing to do anything to get his way and get a troupe into the Woods to save her. The Falcon, another magician though not as powerful as the Dragon, he tries to become a friend to Agnieszka but is always loyal to the Prince before anyone else. All of these characters and more played a large role in this book and in the fight against the Woods.

…The Setting

“There was a song in this forest, too, but it was a savage song, whispering of madness and tearing and rage.”

The Woods are more of a character than a setting. It has been part of the kingdom and the valley Agnieszka lives in for far longer than the humans have been but it has turned dark. Now anyone who enters the Woods leaves corrupted, with no way to save them. Even the smallest brush of pollen from one of the trees in the Woods can turn someone, and that is saying nothing of the horrors and the creatures that come out of it. There is something more to the Woods than the trees and the beats; it is not an incorporeal being but instead there is someone dark and malicious behind its actions. It’s an amazing villain and an amazing setting for this story; so richly described and the history was wonderfully built on as well. The more the characters discover of the Woods the more we in turn understand its full potential and power.

Uprooted was on my to-read list and my bookshelves for so long before I finally picked it up, and now all I’m wondering is why I left it for so long. A story that has been inspired by folklore and fairytales Uprooted was bound to be a favourite of mine. With a rich story, amazing characters and a brilliant setting I only wish I’d read Uprooted sooner.

What did you think of Uprooted? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

49 thoughts on “Uprooted

  1. Spectacular review! I have hesitated on this one bc it’s middle grade, but I have to say, I love that cover! If you give it five stars, I’m going to give it a chance!
    Just wonderful! Thanks for sharing. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Huh, you know reading it I wouldn’t have classed Uprooted as middle grade fiction. The characters are certainly older than middle grade children. I’d highly recommend it either way, it’s an amazing book and yeah I love the cover as well! ❤
      That's all right, I hope you love this book if you pick it up. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah I’ve heard mixed reviews on Goodreads, but the newer reviews seem to be more positive, so it’s on my TBR (I think: I’ll have to check and make sure).
        I love that cover: not a fan of the other one so much!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review I’m glad you liked this one, I loved it! 🙂 It’s definitely one that will make a great re-reader. The only thing I found a bit off and didn’t enjoy was the romance, I thought it was a little…creepy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Heather. Yeah this was an amazing book, and one of my new favourites now as well. I can’t wait to re-read it myself even though I pretty much just finished it! 😀
      Yeah I kind of see what you mean, it wasn’t as well developed as some of the other relationships in this book was it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No I didn’t really think so but I do have high standards for relationships in books since I’m not a big fan of romance in the first place! I think it was also the fact that he’s centuries old and she’s so young….

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I like romance in books but I do like it to be developed a little more. I think at times it felt more like their magic reacting to each other than themselves you know? I don’t think I noticed the age difference as much when I was reading it, there were times when the Dragon just didn’t feel hundreds of years old.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure it’s really really well known but oh it deserves so much more recognition than it currently has because it’s an amazing read!
      That’s all right, are you thinking of picking this one up yourself? I think you’d really enjoy it if you did. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Awesome review, Beth! I’m looking for a book with a dragon to satisfy my dragon slot on the Bookish Bingo card. This sounds perfect. That’s pretty cool that the woods is so well written that it feels more like a character than a setting. When I read that, my interest shot up to a whole other level. I’m adding this to my TBR for next month. 🙂 Your review is making me excited to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Jill, and oh yes, this one could definitely fit the dragon slot on your bingo card. How much of that have you completed so far by the way?
      The Woods are just an amazing addition to this story, there’s so much more to them than a normal setting. They really are like another character and written a developed just like the rest of the characters in this book.
      I really hope you love this book as much as I did Jill, I’ll be interested to see your thoughts on Uprooted when you do read it! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is the first I’ve heard of Uprooted and I’m officially intrigued. I love books that have strong friendships but then you add in the magical fairytale/folklore inspired story and setting and I’m sold. And the idea that the Wood are more a character than setting and that they are considered the villain is neat. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book like that. Also, when I saw how you said Walkers take Kasia in this is it weird that I automatically thought of Game of Thrones? 😂
    Great review, Beth! Definitely adding this to my TBR. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In that case I think this is definitely a book you’ll love as well Melissa.
      The friendship between the two female characters is brilliant, honestly it’s one of my favourite relationships. All the characters are amazing and the setting is just so well done as well. It’s hard to fully describe the Woods but in this story it has so much more of a presence than just a place, it really is more of its own character. It’s a unique book but so so amazing!
      Ha, think more giant bugs than ice zombies! 😀
      Thanks Melissa, oh you definitely should. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Strong friendships between two female characters is always the best. There are so many books out there that lack it which makes me sad. We need more strong friendships in books. 😊
        I love the whole idea of the Wood.
        The whole book sounds like it’s the perfect mixture of magical in both a good way and evil.
        That’s what I figured but I had GoT on my mind. Oops. 😂🙈
        You’re welcome Beth and I hope I do too! Is this one a standalone or is it going to eventually be a series?


      2. Exactly, I think it’s one reason why I enjoy books with strong female relationships just because it’s nice to read when a lot don’t have that. It’s definitely something we need more of in YA though I agree!
        It’s hard to describe too much of this book without giving it away but I think you’ll really like the story behind the Woods and it’s history as well. 🙂
        I normally have GoT on my mind, especially when it’s in the TV! 😀
        It’s a standalone and I don’t think, just because of the ending, there’ll be another book but at the same time I wouldn’t rule it out either. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I think I will too. I love when an author really takes the time to craft out a setting and build the history.
        Same haha. And lately my friend has been telling me all of these theories so I’ve been thinking about it even more. I can’t wait for the new season!
        That’s what I figured. Either way I can’t wait until I get the chance to read it. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      4. In that case you’ll love this one because there is a lot of thought and detail that has gone into this world. Uprooted is definitely up there for me in terms of books with amazing world building.
        Ohh, any interesting theories. I always talk to my friends about GoT just because I love hearing how people think the series will actually end! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Just the same old ones about Jon, mostly. I did see something the other day about how some think Bran will die but haven’t seen enough to say much about that theory. I do the same. There’s so many possibilities at this point. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I am SO glad to see that you’ve enjoyed this book! I love it too for pretty much all the reasons you mentioned. I thought Agnieszka’s friendship with Kasia puts an interesting twist on that whole “chosen one” thing, as Kasia fully expected to be chosen and then was not.

    And the Wood! Such a great villain, I just love it. You’re right that it feels very much like a character rather than a setting. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh it was just an amazing read, and I’m so glad I managed to get around to it finally as well! 😀
      Definitely interesting, I thought once Agnieszka was chosen it would be the last we saw of Kasia but oh I was so glad I was wrong. I really loved their relationship, especially all the unexplored emotions between them after Agnieszka was the chosen one.
      It was definitely an interesting take on the “bad guy” of this story, I’ve never read anything like it and I doubt I’ll read anything like it again! ❤


      1. I know! I’m really, really glad they explored that friendship a little bit further – I hadn’t thought how Kasia would feel after being not chosen with everyone expecting her to be chosen, and it was quite eye-opening in that sense. Have you read Novik’s other books? 💝

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Exactly, I was definitely surprised to see more of Kasia and, like you said, her emotions after not being chosen just because in another book it may not have been explored as much. But I was beyond thrilled to see it developed so much more in this one!
        Not yet. I’ve added them to my to-read list but as this was the one everyone was talking about Uprooted had to be the first one I picked up!


    1. Oh it’s an amazing book isn’t it? I’ve never heard of any fairytale like this book but yeah like you said definitely unique compared to all the other retellings out there. This has become a favourite book of mine, I can’t wait to re-read it again now! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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