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Uprooted by Naomi Novik

By 03:41:00 , ,

“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 he 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 lives in a valley, near the corrupted Wood, that is full of something powerful, magical, and dangerous. Her village is aided by the mysterious Dragon, a wizard who lives in a tower and requires one girl to serve him, selected from one of the valley villages every ten years.

Everyone knows that at the next choosing, Agnieszka's beautiful and brave friend Kasia will be taken away from them for the next ten years. But when the Dragon comes to make his choice, it will not be Kasia he chooses.

✱ Pages: 435 (hardcover)
✱ Publication: May 2015 (Del Ray)
✱ Amazon UK | ✱ Amazon US

This one has been on my TBR for a few months. I happened upon it on a trip to the library because the cover is quite eye-catching. By the time I was about two chapters in I knew it would be difficult to get anything else done before I'd finished reading it!
I read Naomi Novik's Temeraire a few weeks back, and absolutely adored it for the way it portrayed friendships. Uprooted gives me a similar feeling: my heart reached out for the characters, and I just couldn't stop reading because what if something happens to them?!

Novik's storytelling is wonderful, and she goes about it with confidence. I love how characters aren't portrayed in a way that reduces them to either good or evil - people change, and people just aren't always entirely one thing or another. They can be misled, they can wilfully ignore their conscience to get what they want... It gives characters a lot of personality, and makes them so much more interesting. Agnieszka and her friend Kasia have such a marvellous relationship, and it is always clear how much they mean to each other. As for the Dragon, Sarkan, he is just the kind of miserable, stubborn, moody git of a man that I like reading about (yes, I know I have issues, thank you for reminding me).

And the magic! I love the way the magic works in the universe, and the way Agnieszka is kind of a contradiction to the others just makes sense because she is definitely that girl who goes against the rules, ignores people who supposedly know better, listens to her gut, and goes for it without thinking of the consequences too much. The plot keeps you on your toes and once it starts moving along at top speed, you can't help but be very conscious of the danger the characters and their world are in. There's also a tiny smattering of romance that is definitely worth the wait (because who doesn't appreciate a bit of slow burn?)
Uprooted is a lovely stand-alone novel with an enthralling world and intriguing characters. I got a copy out of the library but am now considering buying one for my shelf. That's how good this is ;)
Have you read Uprooted or Temeraire? What did you think? Also, which cover do you prefer for this one? I'm having a difficult time deciding.

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