I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
I’m a little ashamed to admit that I have had several of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series on my shelves for years, and had yet to touch them prior to starting Uprooted. That has since been remedied; I couldn’t finish Uprooted without developing the compulsion to read everything Novik has written.
Uprooted is the story of Agnieszka, a girl only remarkable for her ability to look like a complete disaster in any and every situation. She resides in farming village in a valley that is essentially nestled in an alternate version of medieval Eastern Europe, which is overseen by a mysterious magician known as the Dragon. Every 10 years, the Dragon comes to the valley and takes a young girl to live with him in his castle, without explanation or apology, an event the locals have christened the Choosing. After her decade is up, none of these chosen companions stay in the valley for long- they always seem to need to escape, and quickly. But the Dragon protects the valley from the encroachment of the Wood that surrounds and is slowly overtaking it with a dark and twisted evil, so the girls are willingly, if sadly, given without much complaint. It has always been assumed in the valley that Agnieszka’s best friend, the beautiful and brave Kasia, will be the Dragon’s next choice, but to everyone’s shock, he takes Agnieszka instead.
This book is profoundly hard not to spoil. The official description provided by the publisher covers a scant few opening chapters, leaving over 400 pages of pure discovery, and I don’t want to ruin that for anyone. If you want to read more, please see behind the spoiler tag.
I recently read that Uprooted is the first in a series. I find this exciting, but also very unexpected; the story is entirely self-contained and has a clear, mostly satisfying resolution- and even very definitive foreshadowing of the future. I’m hoping that “series” means that she is going to give us more from the world of Uprooted, rather than forcing the story into a serialized form that takes away from the very powerful drama and pathos of this particular tale.