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“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 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.

438 pages, Hardcover

First published May 19, 2015

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About the author

Naomi Novik

71 books30.4k followers
An avid reader of fantasy literature since age six, when she first made her way through The Lord of the Rings, Naomi Novik is also a history buff with a particular interest in the Napoleonic era and a fondness for the work of Patrick O’Brian and Jane Austen. She studied English literature at Brown University, and did graduate work in computer science at Columbia University before leaving to participate in the design and development of the computer game Neverwinter Nights: Shadow of Undrentide. Over the course of a brief winter sojourn spent working on the game in Edmonton, Canada (accompanied by a truly alarming coat that now lives brooding in the depths of her closet), she realized she preferred writing to programming, and on returning to New York, decided to try her hand at novels.

Naomi lives in New York City with her husband and six computers. Her website is at naominovik.com

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Profile Image for Evelyn (devours and digests words).
229 reviews505 followers
August 20, 2020
This book is underwhelming AS FUCK.

I'll probably be damned for saying this but screw sugar-coating. This book makes me so angry.

Uprooted is one of those books with a pretty outside look full of sweet promises. Yes, sweet and yet they're EMPTY promises. The book covers scream 'BUY ME NOW OR REGRET IT FOR ALL ETERNITY' and the synopsis is so vague to the point of mystery. It lead me in to having such sky high expectations only later that I have those expectations thrown back into my fucking face.

The beginning of the story started out really nicely in a whimsical fairytale sort of way. I thought this will be the next best thing to add into my Favourites shelf. But by the time I reached past 5 - 8% I had already lose my interest and started to wish that I had never, ever bothered with this.

How I pretty much sum up the book:

ONE STAR to character developments. I cannot stand any of them. Nearly all of them are as flat as a cardboard cutout. None experienced huge break throughs and if they did, it did not show in the book. The characters are none I can connect with and none I could care less about.

My biggest pet peeves is that Agnieszka suffers a huge case of Special Snowflake Syndrome. She's been picked by The Dragon (who isn't an actual dragon or even a shapeshifter, to my disappointment) out of the blue because she has magical powers. Oh and somehow out of other people, she can survive longer in the Woods.

"You’ve been inexpressibly lucky,” he [The Dragon/Sarkan] said finally. “And inexpressibly mad, although in your case the two seem to be the same thing. No one has gone into the Wood as deep as you and come out whole: not since—” He halted, and I somehow knew without his saying her name that it was Jaga: that Jaga had walked in the Wood, and come out again.'

*exasperated sigh*

ONE STAR to the ridiculous magic system. Not only is it ridiculous but it is FLAWED. This is probably just my personal preference but Magic comes with a price and in this case, once you magick something it only drains you bit by bit. It's hardly any price to pay. Some of the characters in the book are sorcerers/witches and they cast spells to make magic. Magic spells with IMPOSSIBLE ways to pronounce.

"Zokinen valisu, akenezh hinisu, kozhonen valisu.”

"Ulozishtus sovjenta, megiot kozhor, ulozishtus megiot,”

..... I dont know about you but that all goes 'agskdfsfvslmvdgwddnlkgsljkl' in my head. I refuse to even read the spells properly. I legit have no idea just how Novik expected her readers to read that.

ONE STAR for the writing that is so messy, mediocre and tedious to read. Yes, tedious. It's all tilted to TELLING instead of SHOWING. I also have to endure paragraphs upon paragraphs of useless, unnecessary descriptions. I got so fucking bored I nearly fall dead asleep. There was nothing spectacular about the way Novik writes.

ONE STAR to the non-existent chemistry between the Dragon and Agnieszka. It was bullshit. ZERO STAR to the love interest. If there's one thing I really hate, it's romance revolving around verbal and physical abuses. I swear, verbal abusing Agnieszka is the only language the Dragon knows how to speak in.

First of all, he insulted her appearances.

"The dirtiest thing in this tower is you," he said - true but unkind anyway.

annnnd another jab of insult...

"I do recall the girl neither horse-faced nor a slovenly mess."

Yes, he just described her as 'horse-faced' to which Agnieszka retorted....

"Then you needn't keep me!" I flared, angry and wounded - horse-faced stung.

Yet she still fucking fall for him anyway :-))

Oh wait, there's more. The Dragon also insulted her by calling her an idiot every steps of the way. About more than THREE times in the book.

More cases of abuse he showed the MC:

'He was irritated with me every time I came into his library, even on the few days that I managed to keep myself in good order: as though I were coming to annoy and interrupt him, instead of him tormenting and using me. And when he had finished working his magic through me and left me crumpled on the floor, he would scowl down at me and call me useless'

He insulted her plain ways of dressing and forced her to re-dress for HIM in fancy gowns by using magic (which wears out Agnieszka a lot). In the end, she had to crawl on her knees and hands. Yes, he made her CRAWL back up to her own tower, exhausted.

Why the fuck would you bother with the way she dressed up herself? Sarkan, you motherfucking creep.

He called her intolerable and crazy in one sentence and then he kissed her. This is only the first kiss.

"You intolerable lunatic,” he snarled at me, and then he caught my face between his hands and kissed me.


The sex scene between them both happened out of nowhere and it was sooooo fucking unnecessary. It was like the book decided to throw in a little spice to their almost non-existent relationship. I got so baffled that Agnieszka would throw away her maidenhood over Sarkan whose behaviour do not even fucking improve afterwards.

The fact that many gushed over The Dragon disturbed me. This dude is abusive. ABUSE IS NOT ROMANTIC. Verbal or physical otherwise. STOP THIS SHIT, AUTHORS. Place yourself in Agnieszka's shoes. Put more imaginations on how YOU would feel if you were being treated like all those ways I pointed out.

This one treatment to Agnieszka is particularly the most terrible Sarkan had pulled out of his sleeve.

'He was on me in an instant, thrusting me flat down against my pillows. "So," he said, silkily, his hand pressed down upon my collarbone, pinning me easily to the bed . . . I was terrified . . . He shoved me hard against the bed and bent low.
"Don't dare lie to me!" he hissed. "I will tear the truth out of your throat-" his fingers were resting on my neck; his leg was on the bed, between mine.'

How about you go fuck yourself, Sarkan?

20 August 2020

I wrote this review 5 years ago at the age of 17. I don't think my opinion of this book has ever changed. I still do maintain my stance as to why I thoroughly disliked reading this book, but now that I'm at a much older age than I was before, I'd like to give a disclaimer to not let the extreme profanities my 17-year-old self had wrote to translate through your opinion of the story, characters, etc.

I do plan to edit this review some time later in the near future (hopefully whenever I get into the critical reviewing headspace) rewriting it into a more coherent and concise review. But for now, I'll just leave this little note.

Stay safe during this pandemic, everyone. Keep reading magical stuffs.

Profile Image for Petrik.
687 reviews45.9k followers
March 26, 2021
Buddy read with Fantasy Buddy Reads

This was my first review in 2017, and it started a new milestone: my first ever 1-star rating. I would actually give Uprooted a negative rating if I could because this is literally the worst novel I've ever read in my entire life. Feel free to check my other reviews, and you should be able to notice that I’m quite generous with my ratings, but giving this book even a 2-stars rating would be an act too kind. I know that this is an extremely unpopular opinion, Uprooted is beloved by many readers, but I hated this book; I’m disgusted with almost everything in it, especially the romance. Before reading this novel, I never understood the concept of DNF; I've always thought: “Shouldn’t we read a book until the end before we give our final verdict?” No, I should’ve dropped this book around page 100, and it would’ve saved me from going through so much pain, and I mean that literally; I felt sick, my eyes hurt, and I felt like vomiting every time I picked up this book. If you loved this book, that’s good, and I’m seriously happy for you; I wish I could feel the same about it. But no, I hated it, I despised it. Please stay away from reading this review if you enjoyed this book.

Oh wait, I should start this review with the positive parts first. The book covers (both US and UK editions) are gorgeous, and the prose was beautiful. Plus, I don’t think I’ll ever find another novel I dislike more than this, so that’s a yay. Done, let’s get back on track.

The main characters and their romance were some of the worst problems for me in this book. Kasia, the side character, would’ve been a much better choice for a protagonist compared to Agnieszka; I’ll dub her as Agony because it captured my feeling towards her. Agony is a Mary Sue, and she’s the epitome of Special Snowflake Syndrome. To make things worse, the Dragon, Skunk, Skank, or whatever his real name is was an ultimate asshole just for the sake of being one. From the beginning to the end, no organic development to these characters occurred. The flatness of their characterizations was even worse than a skateboard.

Seriously, though, I'm surprised that someone actually liked what the Dragon constantly did in this book. I’ve heard from many people that Uprooted is catered towards YA readers, and yet 95% of the relationship between Agony and Dragon consisted of him mocking Agony non-stop by calling her slut, useless, idiot repeatedly throughout the whole book. The worst part out of all this, Agony ended up falling in love with him anyway. It’s idiotic; how is this even deemed as romantic? All he did was oral-abuse her all the way that I thought I was reading 50 Shades of Grey in The Forest. The romance between them happened pointlessly, and it happened out of nowhere. There was no proper development; it’s just the beginning of their relationship, Agony being mocked repeatedly, and then boom: . What the hell? I’m going to include some quotes below; please enlighten me if these actually work in real-life dating situation. I personally doubt it; an assassin will be hired to kill me if I follow Dragon’s attitudes.

"The dirtiest thing in this tower is you," he said - true but unkind anyway.

"I do recall the girl neither horse-faced nor a slovenly mess."

'He was irritated with me every time I came into his library, even on the few days that I managed to keep myself in good order: as though I were coming to annoy and interrupt him, instead of him tormenting and using me. And when he had finished working his magic through me and left me crumpled on the floor, he would scowl down at me and call me useless'

"You intolerable lunatic,” he snarled at me, and then he caught my face between his hands and kissed me.

I won’t lie; I enjoyed reading Novik’s prose. Novik’s prose was enchanting, and it was probably the only good thing about the novel for me. But the pacing? Dear God… save me. It was SUPER TEDIOUS; filled with unnecessary and repetitive descriptions. For example, there’s not a single chapter where Agony didn’t talk about her skirt. Why? Seriously, why!? Unless Agony’s skirt suddenly shoots a freaking rainbow, I don’t need to read about her skirt in every chapter. Uprooted could’ve been finished in 200 pages; it would've made a better experience. I have severe insomnia issues for ten years now, and this book managed to send me to sleep eight times; I literally fell asleep because it was so unbelievably boring.

Don’t even get me started on how many times I had to reread a paragraph because I lost count on how many times my mind wandered while I’m reading this book. This situation almost never happened before; even on books I disliked, I didn’t have much trouble finishing them. I legit thought about the process of turning a raw potato into French Fries out of nowhere while reading this, and hey, it’s more interesting than what the pacing and romance this book put me through.

Lastly, the magic system is uber ridiculous. There were no limitations or repercussions to it; Agony could’ve conjured Geralt of Rivia, Gundam, Doraemon, or a massive spaceship, and it would still work. She’s a Mary Sue; there’s no proper explanation given to how her magic worked. She only needed to speak the words she has read, and she would be able to cast anything. I didn’t feel any intensity from the action and the battle scenes anymore because of this. I pity the tree used to create this novel.

I could ramble on for another thousand words about why this book didn’t work for me, but I’m tired; I’m just so exhausted after reading this. I don’t know if I’m in a reading slump right now, but I'm sure as hell near one because ofUprooted. I never thought any book could inflict me with so much suffering and boredom. Once again, this is just my honest opinion, a lot of readers and my friends have loved this book, and I’m sure it could still click for you. However, if anyone asks me whether I recommend this or not, I will have to say no. Uprooted is, at the moment, the worst fantasy novel I’ve ever read in my life. It will be my benchmark for the saying: "It can't get any worse than this."
January 5, 2016
“They forget how to live here...[they] remember to be afraid,” my father said. That was all.

Then they took their dowry-silver and left. Mostly they would go to Kralia and go to the University. Often as not they married some city man, and otherwise they became scholars or shopkeepers.
Are you fucking kidding me? *seethes*

I swear to god I'm the only one in the world who didn't think this book is THE BESTEST MOST SPECIALEST WONDERFULEST BOOK EVER. For god's sake, Emily May loved it, and I highly respect her opinion, but this book is one case where we will have to agree to disagree.

Frankly, I have no idea why everyone loved this book and thought it was so wonderful. The main character is every bit of a Speshul Snowflake Mary Sue. The "Dragon" (so very disappointing) is an asshole of the Fever sort, the kind I deem Jericho-Fucking-Barrons, a term used to describe an asshole who is an asshole only for the sake of being an asshole. He's grumpy, he's grouchy, he is a huge fucking condescending thundercunt of a douchebag just for the plain old reason that he wants to be one.
He was irritated with me every time I came into his library, even on the few days that I managed to keep myself in good order: as though I were coming to annoy and interrupt him, instead of him tormenting and using me. And when he had finished working his magic through me and left me crumpled on the floor, he would scowl down at me and call me useless.
Let's get one thing straight. I like assholes (sometimes), but they have to have character. For example, Dr. House. He is filled with snark. He is a jerk. He's oftentimes despicable, but there's a spark in him, a humanity in him that lets me love him and appreciate him no matter what despicable things that comes out of his mouth, because, under it all (and you seriously have to look deep), he is a human being with a good purpose, no matter how harsh his methods.

Once again, I like assholes. I like anti-heroes, but they have to self-redeeming. The "Dragon" in this book is none such.

Ok, back to the plot. It sucked. I didn't really read the synopsis, but I know there was a dragon who kidnapped girls in it. Surely a terrible fate, right?! EEEEEEEEEEHHHN. Wrong. Look at the quote at the beginning of my review. Essentially the girls are "kidnapped" by said "Dragon" (keep in mind I used quotation marks around dragon), they're educated, they become well-read, and they want to spread their wings. They're given shit tons of money to make a better life for themselves.

Terrifying. Absolutely fucking terrifying. I'm quivering in my boots.

The world building is your standard generic fantasy fare. Monsters. Kings. Princes. But the magic. The fucking magic, man.It just highlights what a special freaking snowflake the main character is. There is nothing to catch the imagination. If I shouted out "Merde!!!!" and butterflies burst into the air and a rainbow forms at my feet, it would essentially be as magical as the shit in this book.
I whispered, “Kalikual.”
The power rushed out of me.
Foreign words!!!! So magical!!!one!1

The main character, Agnieszka, is seriously nothing new. You have read countless incarnations of her in every shitty YA book ever written because she's a special, special girl who doesn't know how special she is. She's just so ordinary and adorably clumsy and plain, y'all! The Dragon always, always takes the most special girl!
The Dragon didn’t always take the prettiest girl, but he always took the most special one, somehow.
:| <- this is my surprised face.

And Ag-noying (my new name for her) is just so...so...ordinary!
At seventeen I was still a too-skinny colt of a girl with big feet and tangled dirt-brown hair, and my only gift, if you could call it that, was I would tear or stain or lose anything put on me between the hours of one day.
You don't say!

But of course, there's more to Ag-noying than meets the eye, why, she's got magical power that's just waiting to burst from her like a rose from a fermenting pile of steaming poop.
My strength welled up through my body and fountained out of my mouth, and where it left me, a trembling in the air began and went curling down around my body in a spiraling path.
Yeah, yeah. I've read this shit before, and I say no, thank you. I like my main characters average, thank you very much. I like my "Dragons" with humanity.

1 star is a bit harsh, but for all the hype, this book let me down tremendously.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
May 18, 2015
Hey! You there! Please listen. On May 19th this book will be released - on that day go to this page or this page or another retailer of your choice and download the free sample of this book. If, by the end of that small sample, you are not convinced that this book is amazing, never think of it again. BUT, I sincerely doubt that will be the case.

Because it took me ONE CHAPTER - well, a few pages really - to make me realize that this book was going to steal every bit of my spare time until I'd devoured it all. And it did. It was magical, surprising, incredibly well-written, and so very funny. And not funny in a Terry Pratchett comedy/fantasy kind of way, but just funny because these characters are so real and charming.

There are those well-drawn, vivid books that have great world-building, beautiful descriptions without being overly descriptive, and get lauded by critics. Then there are those books that are delicious chocolate-ice-cream-with-sprinkles pieces of entertainment that drag you in and just provide so much enjoyment. Uprooted is a rare beast - because it's both.

It's just so goddamn charming. It's exciting and creepy with regards to the plot and world, but it's made especially wonderful because of the character dynamics. Agnieszka and the Dragon are hilarious together - they operate with a kind of love/hate dynamic that makes for some really funny scenes and some heart-warming ones.

What a magical, though strangely honest and thoughtful book. I'm avoiding saying too much about the story because the blurb is deliberately vague for a reason, but I will give you a little something. Uprooted opens in a village where once every ten years, the Dragon (actually a man and wizard who rules over the land) comes and picks a seventeen year-old girl from the village and takes her to his palace. Nobody knows what happens to them, but they are not seen for the next ten years and they always come back changed.

It made me smile because it sounds a little like the premise for Cruel Beauty (which I loved) and A Court of Thorns and Roses (which I didn't love), but it's better and different than either of those. There's a touch of the romantic (and the heart-poundingly sexy), but Novik is both a tease and someone not concerned about being PG - which made the book infinitely better on that front than either of the other two mentioned.

Also, one of my favourite things was the creepy Wood - a literally evil forest that is alive with a dark corruption that will claim you if you ever enter it, or get touched by one of the monstrous beings that come out of the Wood. How weird and creative and scary... I LOVED it.

No one went into the Wood and came out again, at least not whole and themselves. Sometimes they came out blind and screaming, sometimes they came out twisted and so misshapen they couldn’t be recognized; and worst of all sometimes they came out with their own faces but murder behind them, something gone dreadfully wrong within.

I can't praise this book highly enough. I'm desperately trying to string together the right combination of words to make other people pick this up. I just hope I've been successful, because it was truly a magical, entertaining experience.

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Profile Image for Rick Riordan.
Author 256 books408k followers
November 26, 2015
I love a good fantasy rooted in folklore, and Novik does a great job mining the mythology of Eastern Europe for this novel. Young Agnieszka lives in a small town in an out-of-the-way valley where nothing much ever happens . . . except for the fact that they live near an evil Wood that occasional swallows trespassers, drives villagers mad, or sends monsters to destroy neighboring villages. Oh, and also they are protected by a wizard called the Dragon who lives in a tower and does his best to keep the evil magic of the Wood at bay. In return for his protection, the wizard takes one girl from the valley every ten years to serve him in the tower. These girls aren't killed, but they are never the same after their ten years of servitude, and they never stay in the valley when they are released. Something about their servitude changes them . . .

Agnieszka worries for her best friend, Kasia, who is the most beautiful girl in the village. Everyone is sure Kasia will be snatched up by the Dragon at the next Choosing. Instead, much to her surprise, Agnieszka is chosen to serve the Dragon, and that's when she discovered how dark and frightening the world really is.

Novik does a great job twisting our expectations -- inverting the tropes about fairy tale villains and heroes. You'll get magic and monsters, princes and wizards, sorcery and chivalry, but not always in the ways you might expect. Agnieszka has to go through some pretty horrible stuff. In fact, her story got worse so many times I had to put the book down a few times and catch my breath. This trip through the evil Wood is not for the faint of heart. But if you want a fantasy with strong characters and brilliantly original variations on ancient stories, try Uprooted!
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,118 reviews44.8k followers
May 2, 2020
Have you ever loved the first half of a book but hated the second?

Well I have and it sucks. It leaves you feeling rather torn in a review. So, I’m going to tear my review in two and review the two halves separately. Here goes:

First Half- A lovely magical friendship- 4*

In the beginning I had a real reason to carry on reading. The character known as the Dragon was a complete enigma. Discovering what drove this lonely man was, essentially, the reason I carried on with the book. He’s such a cool guy. Well at least by my standards. The man locks himself in his immense library and reads all day. Now isn’t that just fun? I love reading about characters that read, and appreciate books in the same way that I do. I find them quite compelling. But, he is also terribly moody and dismissive to his young student Agmeszka. So I wanted to know what was giving this man a sore head.

Every ten years he recruits a new student from the local village. He usually picks the most attractive girl or her who is remarkable in some way. Ok, so that’s a bit of a dickish move. He takes the woman home where she becomes his live-in-maid. Ok, so he’s getting worse. See what I mean:

“His name tasted of fire and wings, of curling smoke, of subtlety and strength and the rasping whisper of scales. He eyed me and said stiffly, "Don't land yourself into a boiling-pot, and as difficult as you may find it, try and present a respectable appearance.”

This year he fancies a change. He pics the most ordinary girl out of the lot; she appears to have nothing special about her. When he goes back to his wizard tower he leaves her to her own devices. And whoa! Would you guess it? She turns out to be a magic wielder too. She starts reading his books, very intimate I know, and discovers a strange affinity for the craft.

^This great pic summarises a lot. It's perfect.

This was my favourite part of the novel. The two characters discover their compatibility and worked together to create new and interesting magic’s. But, the downside is that it was over far too quickly. This novel did not feel like a stand-alone fantasy. For me, it had the potential to be an epic fantasy series, with this being the beginning. Instead it was over far too quickly as the recently acquainted characters were thrown into the action that became the second half.

Second half- Then everything turned upside down- 2*

The plot then took a weird direction. The world expanded far too quickly. The story went from being isolated to a tower to reaching across the entire lands, and even as far as to affect the random monarchy. The beginning was slow, perfectly so, then it rushed into world events and kingdoms and rulers all too quickly. I do like the idea behind this book, but there was no build up as the story expanded. The novel just had too much story for one book and it felt condensed as a result. This could have easily been split into two. Structurally, the author made a few mistakes in my estimation.

This book would have been far more effective had the friendship at the start been allowed more time to develop. It was thrown into the action that much, that when the romance came it made no sense. It didn’t have time to work; it just sprung and left me feeling a little surprised. It was a case of where did that come from? I think there should have been much more time spent in the tower, as the rest of the world was slowly, and gradually, revealed. That way this could have easily ended at the midway point.

So let’s talk about the woods. The woods are the antagonist in this story. It’s a novel idea, one that made this feel like a dark fairy tale. I loved that; it worked. It more than worked it was rather brilliant. But it could have been better. I think a prelude demonstrating the dark nature of it would have helped to establish it as a real threat, rather than an irrational fear, very early on. Then there’s how the wood ended. Now that was so very disappointing! It was too fast. One minute the wood is practically an invincible enemy, the next it’s defeated in vague circumstances. It was just too fast to be effective!


>Final thoughts - So, I’ve criticised this a great deal. I did like the story, but for me it took a terrible wrong turn which severed my enjoyment. This could have been so much more; it was just over far too quickly. One book wasn't enough to tell this tale in. I think three stars is a fair rating, all things considered.


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Profile Image for Maggie Stiefvater.
Author 81 books168k followers
September 4, 2014
This novel effortlessly conjured up the familiar magic of my childhood favorites — it was like reaching for a sweater and finding my old worn favorite pushed into my hands. I'm going to wear it gleefully for a week, no matter the weather. This concludes my garment simile. Possibly fuller comments to come closer to publication date.
Profile Image for Katerina.
422 reviews16.9k followers
January 1, 2017
When it comes to rating books like Uprooted, I keep wishing I could give more than 5 stars. Because honestly, 5 stars are not enough.

Beautiful. That's the word I've been searching for. Uprooted is a beautiful book. Naomi Novik narrates the story of young Agnieszka, a constantly unkempt girl who to everyone's astonishment was chosen to live in the dreadful wizard's tower for 10 years as the price for his assistance against the evil Wood. Agnieszka imagined how desperate and empty her life was going to be, locked away from her family and her dear friend with the Dragon as her only company. What she would never imagine was that everything she thought of him was a lie based on fear and prejudice. That magic flew in her veins. That she would play a vital part in the kingdom's politics, that she would participate in the never ending war not only against their neighbors but also against the ancient Wood. The Wood that was calling for her. Aftel all, she was just the woodcutter's daughter. With an unequaled gift for disaster.

It sounds like a fairytale, doesn't it? With the witches and the haunted forest and the knights and the brave girl who is about to find out her destiny is a great one and will affect thousands of people? It seems so at first, partly because of Naomi Novik's spectacular writing. The world she created is so vivid and enchanting, you can smell the pines and feel the mud under your bare feet and the air crackling with magic, your stomach clenched with agony and fear, your heart hammering in your chest, and it takes tremendous effort to realize that you are not the one fighting the corruption in Polnya, you are just the reader, in the safety of your house, drinking your chocolate. And you couldn't be more disappointed.

But there was darkness in Uprooted that you don't encounter in most of the fairytales. There were brutal murders, desperation, hatred and rage, and the good guys didn't always win. There wasn't a Prince Charming, only a grumpy, sassy wizard who was irritated most of the times and he couldn't remember what being a human felt like. Thousands were slaughtered due to one man's certainty and ambition. And the wizards weren't good or evil, just opportunists, devoid of love. And Agnieszka? A flawed, stubborn girl with a good heart and iron will, unable to hate even her worst enemies, a dedicated friend and daughter, and a different kind of hope.
Well that does sound like a fairytale after all.

Profile Image for Elena May.
Author 13 books697 followers
February 16, 2020
What a wonderful, charming, well-crafted novel.

One reason why this book works so well is that the stakes remain extremely high throughout the entire story. Everything seems hopeless, and you see no way out. You keep waiting for the heroes to get a break, but then things keep getting worse, and even worse. The novel is stuck in a constant state of culmination, which, in the hands of a less skilled author might have become boring, but here it’s perfect.

The Wood herself becomes a character, fierce and vengeful, creepy and cunning, and so powerful. Magic pours out of this beautiful story about villages and woods, towers and castles, armies and witches, and the more we learn of this world, the more we want to know.

A sense of nostalgia hangs over the tale as the world changes inevitably and we learn of entire villages and civilizations disappearing forever. But there is also a sense of hope in spite of all the darkness, of wonder and discovery, of healing and renewal. A hope for an end of the vicious cycle of violence.

Each character is vivid and fully realized. In the Dragon we see someone who is not nice, at all, but who always gets things done. He’s rude and verbally abusive, but he constantly puts his life and wellbeing on the line to do what’s right and goes above and beyond what is expected of him, and never asks for any recognition in return. In contrast, we have everyone at court, like Marek and the Falcon, who are all flashy and politically savvy, and always manage to present themselves as celebrated heroes without actually doing anything useful. Both types are common in the real world, and this representation rang very true.

Finally, the story is a beautiful homage to the Baba Jaga mythos and perfectly captures the spirit and soul of the original tales.
Profile Image for Navessa.
Author 11 books7,634 followers
December 5, 2021

I need to create a new shelf and label it "all time favorites" and put like three books on there, of which, this would DEFINITELY be one.

What an incredible fairy tale. This book is a lot like the The Wood that dominates this story, luring you close, whispering in your ear, offering you the most tantalizing temptations, if only you'll be persuaded into it. The difference between the two is that where The Wood is a dark, twisted creation that speaks only lies, this book delivers on its promises.

It's as if Novik sprinkled real magic within these pages. As if the words written on them are spells in and of themselves, able to lift from the paper and ensnare those who read them.

I'll freely admit that I was immediately caught within its grasp, and remained spellbound from beginning to end.

If you're a fan of beautifully crafted stories, slow burn romances, hideous monstrosities that are somehow all too human, and good triumphing over evil, read it. Now.

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Profile Image for Yun.
521 reviews21.7k followers
April 24, 2022
I just love me a good fairy tale. And I'm happy to report Uprooted totally fits the bill.

Agnieszka adores her beloved village, though it borders the Wood with its corruption and evil. The wizard known as the Dragon protects her village, but it comes at the price of a young woman handed over every ten years to serve. Growing up, Agnieszka lived in fear of the day the Dragon will pick her best friend Kasia. But when this year's choosing arrives, it seems she feared the wrong thing all along.

Ah, that sounds exactly like the sort of story I could sink my teeth into. It's dark and atmospheric, with brave maidens, a brooding wizard, a worthy villain, and magic everywhere. The only thing it doesn't have is dragons. (Just to be clear, the Dragon refers to the wizard, not an actual dragon, sadly.) It swept me away almost from the very first page.

I will say that this book isn't evenly compelling throughout. Most of it was riveting, but there were chapters where I had trouble getting through them, mostly when Agnieszka arrives at a new location and starts bumbling around. I like my female characters to be strong and clever, and while Agnieszka does get there, she sure spends a lot of time being confused and dense at the start. But it's a pretty minor complaint since those were only small parts of the book.

I absolutely loved Naomi Novik's Spinning Silver, and so I had gone into Uprooted with high expectations. While I didn't love this one quite as much, it delivered aplenty, with a magical tale full of adventure, courage, overcoming great odds, and a little dash of romance as well.

After hitting two for two, Naomi Novik has turned into a must-read author for me. I can't wait to dive into more of her books.

See also, my thoughts on:
Spinning Silver

Profile Image for Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ .
1,261 reviews8,752 followers
March 21, 2018
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

Imagine a powerful sorcerer living in a tower in the middle of a forest. He is over 150 years old, but he still appears to be a young man. Every 10 years, he picks a girl from one of the local villages to take back to his tower. The villagers say nothing, do nothing, b/c the sorcerer protects them from the Wood.

The villagers don't know what happens to the girls during their time in the tower, only that they come back changed. Grander, finer, more polished. Educated and dressed in fine clothes.


The girls are well paid for whatever it is they do in the tower. Alone with the wizard. In the middle of the Wood. When they've served their sentence, they return with a sack of silver to use as a dowry, but they don't marry. At least not anyone from their former home. They all leave, using the money to finance a fresh start somewhere else.

This sorcerer, called the Dragon, is alone except for the village girl, and even with her, he maintains his distance. She will age. She will die. He will do neither. Rather than forming attachments to impermanent creatures, he buries himself in order and precision and the resulting beauty of a task well done.

His nature is taciturn, impatient, and formal, so the villagers, despite their dependence on him for protection, fear him, despise him:

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 . . .

Agnieszka is the antithesis of this sorcerer, this Dragon.

Left to his own devices, he would never have chosen her as his new companion, but Agnieszka has magic, and the King's Law states that any found with the talent must be trained, so choose her he does.

What follows is a compelling combination of stagnation and rebirth, misunderstandings and revelations, the fantastical and the horrific, and all of it is utterly captivating.

Tired literary devices felt new again:

She kissed me again and held me once more, and let me go. It did hurt more. It did.

I found myself reading and rereading the various passages. More than an image clearly formed in my mind, I felt what Agnieszka felt. I could have been her:

I had forgotten hours and days by then. My arms ached, my back ached, my legs ached. My head ached worst of all, some part of me tethered back to the valley, stretched out of recognizable shape and trying to make sense of myself when I was so far from anything I knew. Even the mountains, my constants, had disappeared. Of course I'd known there were parts of the country with no mountains, but I'd imagined I would still see them somewhere in the distance, like the moon. But every time I looked behind me, they were smaller and smaller, until finally they disappeared with one final gasp of rolling hills.

Novik perfectly captures human nature, plucking you from the physical world, and dropping you next to Agnieszka, making you an observer from within, so much more than a girl in a chair reading a book in Tennessee:

"I'm glad," I said, with an effort, refusing to let my mouth close up with jealousy. It wasn't that I wanted a husband and a baby; I didn't, or rather, I only wanted them the way I wanted to live to a hundred someday, far off, never thinking about the particulars. But they meant life: she was living, and I wasn't.

And beyond the simple beauty of her words, she creates real, believably flawed people characters.

Marek is a prince, not the crown prince, and he has no qualms about making his displeasure on that topic known, and when I met him . . . I didn't know what to think. He behaved abominably, but in a way that he himself wasn't absolutely abominable. Just self-interested. But redeemable. Until he isn't. Then suddenly you have hope for him again.

It was a cycle that I completed several times, and in the end . . . I'm still undecided.

But he was real. And he was one among many.

Kasia is Agnieszka's best and only friend. She is also the girl that everyone expected the Dragon to choose. So imagine my dismay when shortly after she escapes that fate, she is abducted by one of the Wood's foul creatures.

Now imagine Agnieszka's dismay.

If you want to know whether or not Kasia is saved, you'll have to read the book for yourself (which you should do anyway, b/c AWESOME), but I will tell you that Agnieszka finds something in the Wood, and that something reminds me of one of my favorite Christian Schloe illustrations:


Fantastic(al), right? The whole book is like that.

UPROOTED by Naomi Novik is part fantasy, part fairy story, and all wonder. I haven't been as enamored by a tale since I was child, and though this is not a children's story, I still found myself smitten like a girl with ribbons in her hair, twirling in her favorite dress in the sunshine. This is a story that has carved it's place on my heart, and I enthusiastically endorse it as my top read of 2015.

Jessica Signature
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,480 reviews79k followers
September 29, 2022
“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.”

^Insert cliche quote above that every other reviewer before me has used.

Guys, I know I'm late to the party, but this book was so worthy of all the stars. I'm still goo-goo eyed at how beautiful and breathtaking the writing is; saying it is atmospheric and quirky and full of heart and soul doesn't even do it justice, but I'm not sure there are proper words in the english language to convey the feelings this book gave me. Right after I finished this one, Mr. Humphrey asked me what it was about and I stuttered and stumbled through some semblance of a description because HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE THIS BOOK? Everything I said made no sense, just as this review will likely make little to no sense, but I'll try my best to convince you to give this one a try if you enjoy a fantasy that is equal parts tenderness and epic growth.

"I was a glaring blot on the perfection. But I didn't care: I didn't feel I owed him beauty."

So, since I apparently can't do plot descriptions an justice, I shall discuss some of the reasons I loved this book. "These are a few of my favorite things!" First, Agnieszka is such a worthy protagonist. She begins as a self-conscious, waif of a girl who's self-esteem is what we see of many girls today as teenagers, yet as soon as she's taken by the Dragon, we see the fight well up in her and sparks begin to fly. By the end of the novel, we have a leader in Agnieszka and she is everything I wanted her character to grow into and more. Her banter with the Dragon brings some of the heavier portions a levity that is needed to keep the story from getting too dark, and I love how creative this fantasy world is that Novik has created. It was crisp and clear in my mind; the descriptions are so vivid and cinematic that I could easily play this out as a movie in my mind rather than words on a page.

I could go on and on about this book, but I gather you've either a) already read this book and know all of this for yourself or b) you haven't read it yet and don't need me spoiling any of the fun for you. If you haven't read this yet but enjoy atmospheric fantasies full of complex relationships and satisfying world building, please do yourself and pick this one up. Thanks to everyone who recommended it to me and for my library for having a book I wanted to check out for once! :)
June 20, 2021
Even though I totally despised this book, I am considerably happy to be writing a review on it, because that means, I've finally put an end to my somewhat pathetic misery, and finished this substandard fuck of a book. To say reading this book was a struggle is entirely an understatement.

You see, Uprooted tries to to lure you in with it's rather gorgeous and intriguing front cover, and admittedly, I was rather excited when I'd read the plot. But now, I feel like I've been totally conned. Conned out of five hours of my precious reading time, but most importantly, time out my life.

When I began reading Uprooted, it was pretty tolerable, and you could even go as far as saying that I was " vaguely interested." Unfortunately, after around 10% of the way through, things took a depressing turn, and I asked myself, what the hell was I thinking?

First off, we'll begin with the character development. It was pretty much non existent. There was no interesting detail about any of the characters, and that left me not caring about any of their fates.
The writing style for me was below average. It was mediocre, tiresome and there was absolutely nothing special about it. There were so many unnecessary paragraphs in the book, mainly consisting of pointless descriptions that I quite easily could have done without reading.

Something I really detest, is romance based on verbal and physical abuse, then being expected to get something out of it. This was boldly existent in this book between the dragon (Sarkan) and Agnieszka. Seriously, every chance that dragon got, he demoralised her in some vulgar, unnecessary way. But yes readers, you can guess, she still fell for him anyway!

When the sex scene took place with Sarkan the dragon and Agnieszka, I'm not kidding, it's like it came out of nowhere. It was comparable to me falling flat on my back abruptly, and winding myself. It was pointless, creepy and I just felt like it was literally just thrown into the book, to try and make it sexy. Well, sleeping with a being that spends his time insulting you, and then insults you again after you've done the deed is NOT sexy.

What surprised me is the fact that the dragon was portrayed as some kind of God. The author really disappointed me here, as I totally fail to see how an abusive individual can be a lovable character. Here is a prime example;

"Don't dare lie to me!" he hissed. "I will tear the truth out of your throat-" his fingers were resting on my neck; his leg was on the bed, between mine."

Oh Sarkan? Why don't you just fuck off?

I wanted to throw this book out of the window so many times, but I persevered, and it's a relief to be finished, even if I do feel like the life has been sucked out of me.
Profile Image for Melissa.
361 reviews624 followers
September 11, 2015

It's nor here nor there. I'm going to steal a bit from Chester and say this is the epitome of Blur Rating.

Are you one of those readers who really gets fed up with series?
It's like every corner you turn, every book you read, you find out it's a trilogy. Or some kind of saga. I remember I used to whine and cry about this all the time because I don't know about you but if I read a book today you can sure bet your butt that I will not remember details about it in two months time unless it was utterly epic, and even then. And unlike most readers, I refuse to reread so I trudge on to the next book most of the time not knowing what the heck is happening until my memories resurface or a friend (usually Brit) so kindly refreshes my mind.

You may be asking yourself, why the heck is Melissa blabbering on about series and trilogies?

Well, because this book made me appreciate them. It dawned on me, that some plots just need to be turned into a saga because smashing them into a 400 page book is like forcing a size 9 foot into a 6 inch 7 1/2 size heel.
It's murder.
Cold blooded murder.

This novel is too dense. It's too layered and runs from one plot to another without giving us time to digest the previous one, making this one tough cookie to swallow. When it's not the overly descriptive surroundings, it's the tedious never ending rendition of magic, one that, by the way, still left a lot to be desired.

See, that is one thing I'm able to appreciate from the Throne of Glass series. I'm not its biggest fan (having actually only really enjoyed the second book) but I was able to enjoy how the plot thickens and gets layers added as the series progresses but if you try to do that in such a short novel, it just becomes hard to swallow and digest.

But at the same time, if it wasn't going to be written into a series, than this needed to be slimmed the heck down cause I just read 3 stories in one. I mean, I know this is only 440 pages or so and I've read longer books in one sitting but daaaamn at times this book read like a textbook.
And ain't nobody got time for that.

As for the writing
You know how some authors have a way of writing in a lyrical and slow paced manner but when you enter an action scene they have a way of making your heart pound and adrenaline sky rocket. That art of being able to make your breathe hold still and your anxiety hit the roof?
...This one doesn't.

A friend had previously warned me about the writing style but I did not heed caution cause in my mind you don't have to be a poet to woo me. But crap, you at least have to have some finesse.

As for the magic

Look, honestly I'm not one to fidget about this. I usually don't care and they don't necessarily have to have some kind of system or consequence theme going on but, honestly? This magic was weird as heck. There was times she used spells but most of her magic was some sort of weird ass humming. If she wanted a twig to turn into a tree she would go...
hmmmm...you are a tree, you have leaves. You grow branches...You are a tree...grow...grow...You are a tree and have leaves and branches...You are a tree...hmmm

Ok, so that may not be an exact rendition but that sure is as close to it as it comes.

As for the romance

Just no. I can honestly say this is one of the worst romances I've read in a book. You know when reviewers rant about the lack of chemistry between characters? Well my friends, here it wasn't even a lack of it, it was a total absence!
When I got to the scene where he kissed her I was just...

Where the heck did that come from?!?! The romance sucks and not just because of the absolute lack of chemistry but because he never backpedals on being a total unrelenting inconsiderate jackass.

Like I said...Just no.

As for the characters
In all honesty? I just liked the Wood and I'm not really sure if that's a character.
But as for Sarkan (who was always snapping, glaring, and growling, reminded me of my rabid chihuahua) and A-jkidhl (because you can't honestly expect me to recall her name right?)

Sooo this just got awkward cause all I remember are the cons. But there are pros, I just can't really remember them. I mean, it couldn't have been that terrible, I did finish it, so there's that. Also, the story is good but I just didn't like how it was told. And the Wood is creepy (not buts here). Yeah...I'm shutting up now.

P.S. Also, this actually the first book I finished this month. So YAY me! I will conquer you, you neverending slump!
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
551 reviews60.4k followers
February 10, 2017
DNF at 241.

I just can't bring myself to finish this book.

The writing is beautiful, everyone seems to love it but I'm incredibly bored.

There I said it.

Also am I the only one that was disappointed with the Dragon? the magic system? how quickly she became stronger than the "most powerful wizard"?
Profile Image for Viburnum (hiatus).
22 reviews237 followers
August 8, 2020
the dragon: *angrily rages at protagonist*
protagonist: ooh thats hot thats hot
Profile Image for Robin Hobb.
Author 294 books98.9k followers
August 29, 2014
I read Uprooted as an ARC or Advance Reading Copy. I promise that I do not review books I have not read.

This tale does have a distinctly fairy tale aura to it, but not in the sense of that distance we get from a tale when characters are The Princess or The Younger Son. Instead, this is a tale that the reader steps into, and experiences with the viewpoint character.

I'm going to tap dance around spoilers as I loathe and despise them, to instead point out that I loved the distinctive names of the characters, names that definitely gave them a flavor of our world but at the same time gave me that feeling that I'd just discovered a very old tale that was set outside the realm of the familiar tales I know by heart.

This story was not afraid to have a bit of silliness in it, and the flashes of peculiar humor that we so often encounter in our own lives. And it also did not wince from peering into the darkness that always waits at the edges of old tales.

Profile Image for Kat Kennedy.
475 reviews16.3k followers
July 1, 2015
This was another favourite of mine. Completely different to A Court of Thorns and Roses and Cruel Beauty, Uprooted is more dark and gothic. Unfortunately there is also a lot less kissing. But not to be discouraged. What kissing there is, is very lovely and, more importantly, Uprooted has a solid plot and is paced with ardent fervour. It’s also funny as all hell and sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat type of action-packed. When I started reading it, I really didn’t want to put it down unless forced against my will. Agnieszka is a fantastic character. Witty, strong, loving and heroic. The Dragon is hilariously uptight and poncy. Cue Agnieszka quickly tearing down every expectation and wall he builds up between them and you have an odd couple taking on the most sinister forest you can think of.

It’s brilliant.

This is a mini review since I posted a guide to Beauty and the Beast retellings here.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
March 24, 2019
If you love fairy tale-ish books - and don't mind if things get bleak and violent for a while - and haven't read this book yet, I strongly recommend Uprooted!

This fantasy is one part Polish folk tale, one part coming-of-age magical fantasy, and one part horror. The main character is Agnieszka, a 17 year old village girl who is chosen by the local wizard, called the Dragon, to be his servant for ten years, the latest in a long string of local girls who each serve the wizard for a decade, emerging at the end somehow changed. Agnieszka turns out to be both more and less than the Dragon expected, with powerful but rather uncontrolled magic of a nature that no one alive has ever seen before, and they both become deeply embroiled in the Dragon's ongoing battle against the Wood.

Everyone fears the Wood. It encroaches on the valley further each year, or tries to. Those who go into it never are seen again, or worse, they emerge corrupted, evil and murderous. Sometimes it sends out wolves whose bites will kill or corrupt, or huge walking stick monsters that kidnap villagers and carry them off them into the Wood.


The descriptions of different types of magic were fascinating, especially as Nieszka learns to work with her own unique brand of magic, and to combine her magic with the Dragon's (who is offended by the unruliness of her magic):
I shut my eyes and felt out the shape of his magic: as full of thorns as his illusion, prickly and guarded. I started to murmur my own spell, but I found myself thinking not of roses but of water, and thirsty ground; building underneath his magic instead of trying to overlay it. I heard him draw a sharp breath, and the sharp edifice of his spell began grudgingly to let mine in. The rose between us put out long roots all over the table, and new branches began to grow.
The last third of this book absolutely put me through the wringer. I felt like I'd been through a horrific war and fighting evil and corruption myself. It's not for the faint of heart, and the death and horror went on for long enough that I considered lowering my rating. It's truly difficult reading. But in the end, the book as a whole impressed me enough that I have to keep it at the full five stars. I give it a strong but qualified recommendation. It's not for young readers (even though it has a 17 year old protagonist; I'd say 17 is about the youngest age I'd consider recommending this book to, and only if quite mature) or for those who can't stomach reading about creepy evil things or gruesome wartime violence. It also helps if you like fantasies of the folk and fairy tale variety.

Uprooted is beautifully written, with an unusual setting and a great set of characters, realistic and flawed but admirable. There's a wonderful, touching, layered relationship between Nieszka and her friend, Kasia. It explores good and evil, love for friends, family and nation, and other complex themes in a nuanced way. One of my favorite fantasy reads this year.

I received an ARC of this ebook in return for an honest review through NetGalley. Thanks!

Content advisory: strong scenes of death and violence, including war and supernatural violence. Some sexual content, mildly explicit.

Art credit: http://defeatedart.deviantart.com/art...
Profile Image for Michael.
Author 108 books93k followers
March 20, 2015
This is one of the few books in the last year that managed to captivate me. From the opening paragraph this story grabs and hauls you off into the wonders of darkly wooded world and just as sincerely holds you captive. Ms. Novik did everything right here. There’s no learning curve, as the story starts small, simple, and yet captivating. The the reader is introduced to a pleasant and likable young woman, whose life is drastically altered, not in some horrible way, but rather in an unexpectedly nice way. Such things don’t usually happen in fantasy stories. Nice characters, nice places, pleasant events—almost sounds boring, only it isn’t. Quite the contrary, I was far more fascinated and riveted by this not-miserable place and kindly people than in any other fantasy book I’ve read in decade.

Uprooted is a modern day Grimm’s fairy-tale, and not the toothless Disney sort but the kind woven to keep kids out of the forest. And while the story is not for children, and can get dark at times, this is a far cry from the more popular mainstream literary message that the world is awful, and it is best to screw your friend before your friend screws you. Instead Novik's tale depicts good people struggling to win against evil. Where it differs from traditional fantasy is in its honest depiction of the slippery nature of both good and evil, and how they aren’t always so easy to recognize, until it’s too late, and even then…
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.5k followers
October 20, 2019
the only thing that has been uprooted is my interest.

while it was loosely planted in the beginning and timidly watered by a few enchantingly charming chapters, my attention eventually withered away and died.

but i never did have a green thumb, so my lack of enjoyment is most likely my fault and not the storys. because its actually quite a beautiful fantasy concept, the more i think about it. but i just couldnt get into it, the writing, the characters, the romance, or anything else.

i ended up heavily skimming the last half of the book, so maybe i will revisit this more fully once ive brushed up on my gardening skills.

2 stars
Profile Image for Anne.
4,056 reviews69.5k followers
July 10, 2021
I think we can all agree that the woods are fucking spooky.
Or is it just me?
Because every time my husband drags me off to a campground, I look like this:


So. Yeah. Already prejudiced against the Strangle-Trees (or whatever they're called) in this story.
Ok, from the blurb, you probably think that the story centers around a guy named Dragon (or a dragon named Guy?) and the girl he falls in love with...fairytale style.


But it doesn't!
It's all about two wizards (mages/witches/whatever) fighting off a sentient (<--EVIL) forest!


Ok. Potentially, that's just what I got out of the story.
*clears throat*
Anyhoo. If you are NOT a fan of the dry/crunchy way that a lot of fariytaleesque stories are told, you might want to back away from this one. The plot sort of meanders around (as these stories tend to do), so if you're looking for a straight-up an action packed kind of thing, you'll likely be disappointed. I'm probably not describing it right, but this genre usually has a certain standoffishness in the way the characters are written that doesn't exactly appeal to everyone.
I'm not saying they don't have depth! It's just... I mean...
Just because I enjoyed this one, doesn't mean everyone will, you know?


I don't know what the hell I'm trying to say, because this review doesn't sound very flattering, and the truth is...I really enjoyed it!
deep breath
If you're looking for a magic/fairytale/fantasy(ish) story that confirms all of your fears about going Into The Woods, then this is an excellent book to snag.
Profile Image for Natasha Polis.
70 reviews13.6k followers
July 22, 2018
This is one of my very favorite books of this year. It might even be my favorite. It's so beautiful and it has one of my very favorite tropes in it, but handled in such a careful way. This is actually intensely creepy so just be aware of that. Im just so blown away. I didn't want it to end!
Profile Image for Juliet.
Author 76 books11k followers
May 27, 2015
A wonderful folkloric fantasy by the author of the Temeraire series. The characters are excellent, the descriptions of magic are brilliant and original, and the story is action-packed from start to finish, yet the author manages to fit in character development and to engage the reader's emotions as they follow Agnieszka's journey from ordinary village girl to wizard's assistant to ... read it and find out. The author has built the book's world on the Polish culture and folklore of her family background, and this gives Uprooted a depth and authenticity that enhances the story all through. Very highly recommended. I don't often give five stars.
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
719 reviews1,113 followers
May 14, 2020
Ever felt so certain you would love a book and then you just...don’t?!

Who even am I anymore?!

Sigh. I don’t even want to write this review.

Ok so to start with this book took me months to read...MONTHS I tell you. Actually looking at the dates on Goodreads it was close to a year but I did start and stop a lot so... I can normally devour a fantasy book twice this size in half the time . I just wasn’t interested.

Secondly, the romance. If you can even call it that?! The ‘dragon’ is a dick. Not just a bit grumpy but genuinely nice underneath (which is how I see the beast in beauty and the beast) nope he is just a straight up ass hole all the time. He calls Agnieszka an idiot every couple of chapters, he is rude, dismissive, condescending. I mean if that does it for you then crack on but honestly?!

Also I’m so sick of the trope that because a character looks your age it’s fine. He is literally hundreds of years old! Gross.

I was skimming by the last hundred pages. I was tired, the plot didn’t grab me. I hated nearly everyone. I will give some of this author’s other work a try but I’m so disappointed right now.
Profile Image for carol..
1,566 reviews8,211 followers
February 22, 2018
Once upon a time, I read myths, folktales and fairy tales. Thankfully, this was way back before Disney was ubiquitous, so I subsisted on Andrew Lang‘s The [Color] Fairy Books, Ruth Manning-Sanders‘ Book of [Magical Creature]s. And even Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm, though they were usually devoid of the embellishment I enjoyed. Uprooted brought back the memory of those days, of reading an unfamiliar fairy tale for the first time. I was transported as I read… at least for the first two hundred pages. The storytelling was mesmerizing, the graceful way it moved forward in time, backward in memory, telling the tale of how Agnieszka came to be taken by the Dragon to his Tower and discover her magic and the magic of the Wood.

“That was the end of the story: no one went into the Wood and came out again, at least not whole and themselves. Sometimes they came out blind and screaming, sometimes they came out twisted and so misshapen they couldn’t be recognized; and worst of all sometimes they came out with their own faces but murder behind them, something gone dreadfully wrong within.”

Initially, characterization shone. The young women in this story are human enough to be fallible, but are also caring, determined and faithful. Agnieszka often thinks of herself as a creeping mouse, but she has spirit: “I could sleep at night again, and my spirit began to recover, too. Every day I felt better, and every day more angry.” Lovely, strong Kasia has been Agnieszka’s friend for as long as they can remember, and has been the one everyone knew the Dragon would take: “I know I’m making her sound like something out of a story. But it was the other way around. When my mother told me stories about the spinning princess or the brave goose-girl or the river-maiden, in my head I imagined them all a little like Kasia; that was how I thought of her.” I loved the way Novik noted the tension their roles placed on their relationship while still allowing them to remain fast friends. It was a well-done female friendship, and didn’t go to any of the tropey places I anticipated. The down notes on characterization come later, as Novik pulls a major switch, first garnering sympathy for a weak character and then changing motivations.

Plotting kept me guessing. There was a fairy-tale feel to it, but as events started to spiral beyond the initial set-up of self-discovery, I wasn’t able to predict where it would go. Unfortunately, one of the places it did go was a city, and once Agnieska headed there, it transformed from an intimate, personal story to one of epic scale. Agnieska’s personal journey and transformation were sacrificed for politics, losing mystical overtones in favor of mundane ones. It’s hard to put the malevolence of a single courtier on a parallel with a heartwood tree, for instance, and Novik lost the thread of the story. Nieska becomes unbelievably powerful by the time she leaves the city, freely creating spells under stressful situations, magicking escape after escape. Jaga’s book becomes a bit of a deux ex machina, showing her the way to a new spell when she needs it. Characters who behaved a certain way out of deep-seated emotional desires suddenly were realized to be behaving another way out of political intrigue. When an army was brought into it and mobilized within days, I started skimming, depressed I was no longer hanging on to Novik’s every word. It felt like the lovely ride I was on had escaped control.

Quite honestly, it reminded me of the way Hollywood tacks on a grand finale action scene to a movie that isn’t really about action–the resulting scenes of the siege seemed over-the-top and actually did make me question Novik’s ideas of character motivations. However, I stuck with it and found that Novik was able to rein in her runaway horse. Once again the Wood was approached and the deep source of the Wood’s discontent discovered. Unfortunately, it made the calculated upheaval in the city and the following siege all the more incongruous.

Note should be made of the Dragon’s relationship with Agnieszka. At first, it feels very My Fair Lady, which lots of negative, insulting comments about every aspect of Nieshka’s character. I wasn’t surprised at the growth of emotional connection, and I thought it was handled reasonably organically. Likewise, Nieshka’s growing realization about the long lives of wizards and their growing emotional disconnection made sense. However, I was a little disappointed in how it developed, because it felt like a simple modernization (I’ll spend time on my own without a man! Grow my own life!) of a very old romance trope. The upshot is going to be Nieshka humanizes her calculating, emotionally distant man and will reconnect him to the roots of the world. A five start book might have pushed that conclusion harder.

Filled with richer detail than most fairy tales, it reminded me of when I read Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast for the very first time (but you know what was better about the Beast than the Dragon? He was always kind. And he had a library of all the books ever written). I absolutely loved the first section and would have given it all the stars I had to award, but the incongruous battle lost the magic and the hasty ending only had a few moments to regain it. Still, there's something special about such a strong female friendship in a fairy tale.
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
May 29, 2019
fulfilling my 2019 goal to read (at least) one book each month that i bought in hardcover and put off reading long enough that it is now in paperback.

although i know, with my logic-brain and my experiences and my readers’ advisory training, that not every book is going to “work” for every reader, i always feel a little bit guilty, a little bit broken, when a wildly popular book i had every expectation of loving falls short for me.

and in this case, i’m not even sure why we didn’t click.

its hooks hooked me: it’s a fairytaleish book with a spooky forest and a mysterious castle and an enigmatic wizard and a village with a long-standing and creepy tradition of gifting a young woman to the enigmatic wizard in the mysterious castle every ten years.

it’s got a magical freaking library.

and that cover. o, that delicious cover.

everyone raved, everyone who knew my tastes said i would love it, and on paper, i should have loved it. but i struggled.

for starters, i never really connected with the characters. it doesn’t bother me that agnieszka is a food-covered klutz in torn dresses. i know some people are so over the clumsy heroine trope, but us sloppy girls gotta stick together, and agnieszka was so borderline slapstick with her pratfalls and porridge-hair it didn’t read as helpless hapless girl so much as pathological, like she was magnetized towards mud. but her transition from “who, me?” to ‘NOW I KNOW ALL THE MAGICS!’ was muted, making her triumphs seem sudden and unearned while so many other parts of the book were draggy. i did like kasia, and i appreciated how her friendship with agnieszka was written, but all this other stuff kept getting in the way of novik developing that friendship, ultimately reducing kasia from who she was to what she could do; making her a tool, not a character. sarkan? i got nothing. he barely registered for me.

which brings us to the romance element. that this didn’t interest me is no surprise. literary relationshipping surprises me when i do give a hoot about it—my expectation is that i will blah blah through the smooching parts until the book gets back to the good stuff. but this time, i didn’t even understand it; how it happened, where and when the attraction blossomed. it’s like when two people you’ve known for a long time suddenly hook up and there’s this whole new dynamic to process and the ‘wait, you kiss each other now?’ thing is very confusing.

i liked some of the battle parts, but for every sequence i enjoyed, there were pages of “i throw the magic at YOU!” “no, but i throw the magic back at YOU!! PYEW! PYEW!” and i’m like “wake me when you get some battle rhinos.”

all of that and there’s nothing overt that i can point to and say “that’s where it lost me. that’s what i didn’t like.” it wasn’t that it was unenjoyable or a chore to read, it just never made my readerheart sparkle.

three perfectly fine stars.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,099 followers
February 9, 2017
Solid, solid, solid. As solid as wood.

Honestly, I was feeling a bit of trepidation before reading this, and I'm very happy to say that I didn't have any issues with the novel.

What? No issues at all?

No, not really. I honestly enjoyed opening characterizations, all focused more upon the hopes and the realistic expectations when it came to the Dragon who may or may not be an evil nobel/wizard, and I enjoyed the bait and switch enough that I just got suckered into the rest of the story despite all the old resonances of plot and myth.

Instead of being tired, though, I actually looked forward to learning the magic and discovering how all of it worked, or didn't work in her case, and I plainly enjoyed the dichotomy as it revealed itself. Words and reason versus song and intuition.

Of course, it wasn't the dichotomy alone that made it special. It was the interwoven dualism of both and the harmony that both deep learning and a trust in instinct can form together.

As a love story, it's mild and cute. As a retelling of the evil forest mythos featuring Baba Yaga (or Jaga in the text,) it's strong as hell and always on target. As a story, it had strong plots and steady progression, right down through the training, to the introduction to the kingdom, to the Main Reversal, to the Next Reversal, to the dire oh-shit-this-has-gotten-crazy reveal.

I'll tell you right now: I was rather a bit upset that the big bad is an evil forest, but the idea is much older than all our modern tree-hugging sympathies, so in effect it still came across as something fresh. How odd!

I was entertained to the very last page and so damn happy that I got to read this.

Of course, strangely enough, I hadn't even considered reading it until I learned that it was nominated for the Nebula, and now I feel rather more than vaguely embarrassed. Shame on me!

Barring any upsets on my upcoming short-list for the Nebula, I think this one is going to be second favorite of the bunch.

The Fifth Season still leads, followed closely with Uprooted. I've still got a few other titles to read, but I can tell you that Ancillary Mercy will be somewhere in the middle and Updraft will trail at the bottom.

Let's see how Raising Caine, The Grace of Kings, and Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard fare, shall we? :)

Update 4/27/16

Not only has this novel been nominated for the Nebula, but it has also been nominated for Hugo for 2016 as well!

I'm putting this one at my number two position in both, simply because my number one pick also has been nominated in both, but I'm doing it for the same reasons, either way. I love Uprooted, but I love another more. It sounds like a love triangle, I know, but, alas, truly, it's not. For one, neither book loves me back. I am not a YA novel. :)
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