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Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Truth didn’t mean anything without someone to share it with; you could shout truth into the air forever, and spend your life doing it, if someone didn’t come and listen.

UprootedAfter I finished the first two Scholomance books I still wanted more Naomi Novik entertainment, so I decided to listen to Uprooted.

I didn’t go back and read what I wrote about the book when I first read it. I just went on my vague memories of the plot—a consuming, angry forest; a demanding lord called The Dragon, a seemingly-average girl becoming the lynchpin in saving the world, a tower, something to do with magic. I let the story fill in the gaps. The novel opens with Agnieszka, a teenage girl who is chosen by the Dragon. Every ten years he choses a girl to live in the tower with him; no one is sure what the girl does, but she always returns changed, unable to stay in the village any longer. The villagers are sure Agnieszka’s best friend, Kasia, will be chosen—she is beautiful and accomplished and brave—but the Dragon picks her instead.

The Dragon is a wizard, and his primary responsibility is to use his magic to keep The Wood at bay, just far enough away from the borders of the villages to let them live normal lives. The Wood is malicious; it wants to consume all of the space and kill people in horrible ways.

When Agnieska arrives (by magic) at the Dragon’s tower, they eventually discover that she, too, has magic. Only it is very different from the Dragon’s magic. And their personalities are very different, so there is a lot of conflict in their relationship.

One thing I had forgotten about this novel was The Wood’s origin story. I’m not sure why that didn’t stay with me, as it is really the heart of the narrative. And the way Agnieska’s friendship with Kasia is portrayed: loyal, true, sweet, but not without conflict and hard feelings. I loved so many things about this novel.

Reading this so soon after Novik’s other books made me realize something, though. She is definitely a fan of the Mr. Darcy syndrome, as all of the books by her I’ve read have a character who falls in love (eventually) with a man who is prickly, difficult, and misunderstood. As this is not my favorite trope (Pride and Prejudice isn’t my favorite Austen), it makes her books a bit less enjoyable for me.

Still, listening to Uprooted (while I sewed the memory quilt I made for my friend) was a great choice. I enjoyed being immersed in a vivid fantasy world and seeing Agnieska figure out how to solve her problems.

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