Uprooted by Naomi
Uprooted by Naomi Novik is a story of a peasant girl that lives her life under the shadow of the Wood. A grim wizard guards the valley from it’s dark power and takes a girl into his service every ten years. This year Agnieszka is unexpectedly the chosen one.
I was a bit apprehensive after reading the first 30 pages and almost put the book aside. Then I came across a review on Goodreads that promised all questions to be resolved later in the book. I went on reading, and was happy that I did.
I had several questions at the beginning:
Why did the Dragon take girls every ten years, and why was it a terrifying experience, if he didn’t do anything terrible to them?
Why was he such an asshole?
Why did the main character dislike magic?
Some of these questions are indeed answered as the story unfolds. Some of them remained unanswered for me.
I still can’t understand why the villagers were terrified of the Dragon if he didn’t do anything awful. The reasons for his cranky nature is still a mystery to me too.
I liked the focus the book put on different kinds of magic: a more polished, intellectualised sorcery and another, a rogue kind of magic, where one as if wanders through the wood. The relationship between Sarkan and Agnieszka is reminiscent of the ale Guin’s Earthsea plot line of Ged, a learned and well-connected male sorcerer and Tenar, a village witch; their different approaches to magic. I loved how Naomi Novik explored their differences and their ability to connect in her book. Them doing magic together were the most magical moments in the book for me, and a different approach to describe love. It was a pleasure to read how they touched each other through their sorcery. A sexual love scene that Naomi Novik included later on was totally out of balance and forced in comparison. I would have enjoyed more exploration of the Dragon’s character and development of his and Agniezska’s relationship at a slower and gentler pace. The moments between them were rare and didn’t create a steady picture of a relationship growing. They spent months in that tower, after all!
Speaking of action, the book was too fast-paced for me. The background stories of main characters and the country itself was poorly developed. I was very curious about what all those people did when they didn’t fight monsters.
I loved the accent made on female friendship, but again, the relationships seemed just jotted, underdeveloped.
In this respect, descriptions of the Wood were a pleasure to read. It’s relationship with Agnieszka became a central one in the narrative, and I can’t think of a better way to tell a story of a wood witch. I just wish the author didn’t rush the story and let me dwell longer on each and every particularity of her world.