Uprooted: Illumicrate Exclusive Edition

by Naomi Novik

4.25 of 5 stars 24 ratings • 12 reviews • 54 shelved
Book cover for Uprooted

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Uprooted: Illumicrate Exclusive Edition

by Naomi Novik

4.25 of 5 stars 24 ratings • 12 reviews • 54 shelved

Comes in hardback with the original UK cover, with exclusive: metallic sprayed edges, endpapers, embossing on the hardbacks and quotes on the spines, and have a bound-in author letter stamp signed with Naomi Novik’s signature. The book has a ribbon bookmark and comes inside a fully designed slipcase.

***

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.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

  • Publish Date October 2020 (first published 1 January 2015)
  • Imprint Tor Books
  • Edition Illumicrate Exclusive Edition
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 448
  • Language English
  • Special Sprayed Edges

Reviews

Avatar for theliteraryphoenix

Uprooted has a good story in the depths of it, but my personal experience was that it did not live up to all the hype.

I think part of my bias comes from the narrator - she wasn't bad exactly, but her cadence really bothered me.  The pauses and enunciation was not what I am accustomed to, and I found the narration robotic, which made it a bit difficult to listen to, especially since the audiobook was over 17 hours long.  So there's that - maybe I would find this book less tedious if I had been reading it in hardcopy instead.

Even then, though, I'm not sure.  There was a lot of ambling in Uprooted.  The story didn't really start until almost halfway through, and even then it took its dear time.  Uprooted felt like it should have been a trilogy, or it should have been a shorter, more concise book.  I felt my mind wandering, only being able to truly focus when there was an action sequence or a particularly beautiful bit of world building.

Sometimes, when books move along like this, they are balanced by particularly interesting characters.  Unfortunately, the only character I found vaguely interesting was Agnieszka, our protagonist.  There didn't seem to be a lot of time spent on character depth in Uprooted, and Agnieszka had a few fun little quirks when we were first introduced to her.  I felt this faded the deeper we got into the story, and the characters blended together after a while.

There is a romance in this novel, but it is an afterthought - a side branch, if you will.  There was chemistry between the characters, but the whole situation was very stiff.  I was rooting for the couple, but the relationships between characters were all awkward... whether it was a romantic interlude or a platonic friendship.  I blame the flat characters for this, but it was still disappointing.  I know I'm not usually the one pining for a good romance, but I'd rather have no romance than one that feels like an afterthought.

All the energy in this novel went toward the fairytale feeling, and in that, Naomi Novik succeeded.  The Wood is so many different things and made me continually revise my opinion of it.  There is a strange otherness to the world that is beautifully done.  I adore stories about magic and forests, and in that, I liked Uprooted.  I just didn't have the patience for how long it took the story to get moving, and keep moving.

Like I said, it's not a bad book, but it is not a world changing fantasy.  It's a good book for those who enjoy dark fairytales, like Wintersong or The Hazel Wood - Uprooted has the same deep feeling to it that can wrap up the reader in its peculiar magic.  I think that feeling is why so many people love it so much.  I think that Naomi Novik is a very creative author, if a slow storyteller, and I intend to read Spinning Silver.  Uprooted is a wonderful story for the right reader, but they must love fairytales and have a bit of patience.

Avatar for leahrosereads

This was a magical book! It's a beautiful story with such creative, fantastical elements. As a whole.

However, when I look at the parts individually, it has some flaws. I wish the romance just didn't exist. I felt it would've been better to keep a friendship between the love interests. I thought it was stronger as a friendship. After the MCs, who were very dimensional and interesting, everyone else were backdrops. The side characters were one dimensional and so bland.

This issue includes the villain.

Avatar for terrimleblanc

I’ll be honest Uprooted by Naomi Novik intimidated me. It’s an adult fairy tale and I was worried that it would be inaccessible to me. Some times adult fantasy books build complicated worlds and there is so much unknown I get lost in the woods and feel like I’m not smart enough to read the book (and I was an English Lit major so it makes me feel INCREDIBLY stupid when I don’t get a book).

I was mesmerized by Uprooted. Simply mesmerized. Certainly the world of Uprooted is a new world, but the elements of a kingdom, magic and creepy woods are familiar fairy tale mechanics and I quickly settled in Novik’s writing and storytelling style. So while this was a new fairy tale and culture for me, there were familiar elements marking the path from start to finish that made it feel familiar.

Plus one can’t help but admire and root for Agnieszka and her approach to her world, its politics and seemingly unshareable magic. I grew so attached to her, and her friend, Kasia, and the Dragon that I actually found ways to AVOID reading towards the end. Yes, my heart even warmed toward the Dragon, with his cold shoulder and stubbornness. As the pages in the book started to dwindle I thought for sure there was only one way the story would end and I didn’t want it to end like that.

I wish I could find more books like Uprooted. It resides in this perfect place in my reader heart—that place between the known and unknown where there is just enough of both to make you feel comfortable because as a reader you KNOW this but there is just enough of the unknown to keep you on your toes and delightfully surprised along the way.
This review was originally posted on Second Run Reviews

Avatar for bloggingwithdragons

Review originally from Blogging with Dragons.

When I first heard about this book, I was expecting it to be like Dragon Rose by Christina Pope, which was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but with a dragon as the beast! Perhaps I set myself up for disappointment, but I couldn’t seem to like this book as much as Dragon Rose and even struggled to get through it. It really didn’t help that the Dragon of the book was not actually a dragon at all. And I just couldn’t get past the main character Agnieszka’s specialness and the descriptions of her magic, even though I enjoyed the unique aspects of the story at the same time.

I felt pretty letdown when I realized the “Dragon” taking a girl into his tower every 10 years wasn’t even a dragon. Instead, he was just a super crotchety semi-immortal wizard, who really didn’t seem to have any redeeming qualities except being a skilled wizard. And he couldn’t seem to say anything nice to the main character, but I was able to forgive him of that, because I really didn’t like her much either. I don’t really enjoy when characters are so special and unique in their unive­rse that I can’t relate to them at all, and that is definitely the case with Agnieszka. Despite their personality hang-ups, I did sort of enjoy the developing romance between the Dragon and Agnieszka. Admittedly, their romance was more like two societal misfits who found that their magic complimented each other, with their attraction simply being byproduct of that magic, and not real romantic or sentimental feelings.

On the other hand, Agnieszka’s relationship with her friend Kasia, whom she saved from her ensnarement from the very heart of the evil Wood, was absolutely solid and interesting. The dynamic of their entire friendship was forever changed when Agnieszka, and not Kasia, was chosen by the Dragon to be taken into the tower, but the two remained true friends through it all. Agnieszka’s determination to save her friend from not only the Wood and its possession and the changes it wrought for Kasia, but also execution for assumed corruption, was the true standout relationship in the book to me, and not that of the Dragon’s and Agnieszka’s.

Despite not being thrilled with the romance and the lack of a real dragon, I had to give author Naomi Novik props for creating such an original work, one that wasn’t actually like Dragon Rose at all. I was surprised by the way Novik set up what seemed like a typical fairy tale retelling, only to break down the walls, and turn it into something else instead. The evil and insidious entity, the Wood, and its ability to set traps for the main characters was really interesting and not something I had read before. And Novik deftly made the trip into the eerie Wood feel like a march towards death. The heartwood trees, their fruit, and the Walkers were extremely well-written and menacing. Who would have thought to make an ever-growing Wood, with roots all over the world, the main evil of the book? It was truly an inspired idea and the mere thought of getting stuck in one of those evil heartwood trees was truly fearful.

But it was the parts of the book not featuring the omnipresent Wood with which I had issues. Descriptions of the main character’s magic, along with her journey to the castle, felt super boring after the harrowing fight in the Wood. I found myself skimming through the descriptions of the character’s magic, utterly sick of hearing long descriptions about Agnieszka’s song magic and what folk song she plucked it from and what it meant. It was constant and just got very old. I also didn’t care that she derived her magic from Baba Jaga’s branch of it, as she wasn’t at all pertinent to the story. And I frankly didn’t care about the courtier’s dislike of Agnieszka because she didn’t fit in, their politics, or the Falcon’s attempts to flirt with Agnieszka. Perhaps this was Novik’s way of attempting to make it more like a Beauty and the Beast retelling, and Agnieskza more like Belle, but I didn’t care—I simply wanted more of the sinister Wood and its plotting.

Though the book wasn’t my favorites by any means, it was still a very interesting and unique read and I was glad that I read it. And if you’re a fan of Gregory Maguire’s books, or other retellings, it’s certainly something that you will enjoy. However, if you’re looking for anything more than a fresh concept, or a retelling with an emphasis on romance, this isn’t the book for you.

Avatar for shelfleigh

Leigha 3 of 5 stars
A young woman learns about magic in this adult fantasy novel.

My excitement for this book was off the charts. The synopsis was intriguing without giving too many detail. The cover was absolutely beautiful. Yet as I read the novel my excitement quickly disappeared into apathy and boredom. While the setting and world building were intricately crafted, the characters were, well, not.

Agnieszka suffered from Special Snowflake Syndrome. While she initially started training in magic, she soon eclipsed her trainer. She was magical Superman, able to defeat anything. I wasn't crazy about any of the other characters either. The Dragon was a generic, broody love interest. Kasia had a wooden personality and that’s before she literally became wood. The rest of the characters were mostly expendable and unremarkable. While I wasn't interested in the characters, I did really enjoy the setting. The Woods were wonderfully creepy and atmospheric. The story behind the Woods' corruption was intriguing, if a little vague.

tl;dr Uprooted contained a great setting with dull characters. Those interested in fantasy, folklore, and magic may enjoy it.

Avatar for ibeforem

ibeforem 5 of 5 stars
“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley.”

It’s been a long time since I read a true fantasy novel. I had heard a lot of buzz about Uprooted over the last year, and all of it was positive. It was one of the few fantasy novels that I’d see people recommend over and over. And for once, all of the hype is richly deserved.

Agnieszka is a young girl growing up in a village at the edge of the corrupt Wood, which would absorb her village and turn everyone in it into raving, evil lunatics if given half an opportunity. The only thing keeping the Wood at bay is the Dragon. The mysterious wizard appears every 10 years and takes away with him a single girl. She will return 10 years later, unharmed yet never the same. Everyone believes the next girl to be taken will be Kasia, Agnieszka’s best friend.

Except it’s not. The next girl is Agnieszka. It turns out, she has a gift, and that gift is magic.

What follows is part coming-of-age, part quest, and part fairy tale. And it’s all fantastic.

Agnieszka is a compelling lead character. She is timid, but grows more bold. She is unsure, but grows more competent. She is steadfast in her loyalty. Her heart is open, even when it shouldn’t be. And it turns out that she’s not the hero anyone wanted, or ever expected, but she’s exactly the one they all need.

My only complaint about this novel is that there isn’t more of it. I wish it was going to be a series. Or at minimum, a trilogy!

Avatar for kait

kait 3 of 5 stars
Uprooted starts like a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and Novik’s writing is fairytale-esque. It is delightfully like a Grimm fairytale: that is, it’s very, very grim. ;) Novik’s eastern European inspired world is fascinating and the evil that lurks is terrifying and compelling. The first 40% of the novel is packed with action, yet the book feels slow-moving and abstract. (It’s not a bad thing, necessarily, and it’s interesting how Novik plays with your sense of time.) The second half of the novel really picks up in intensity and feels much faster. I do wish Novik had better structured the pacing, but her writing style is the one area where I really felt Novik was doing something unique with the genre.

The plot is a bit insane and is kind of a wild ride—even though it is packed with fantasy stereotypes, there’s also quite a few twists and turns to take you by surprise. At times I was not on board with the plot and the characters, but I think that was because Novik’s writing could feel so distant at times, and I wanted more explanation for almost everything that happened. One thing that really bugged me was that Novik never addressed the fact that the Dragon reads Agnieszka’s mind! The fact that Nieszka never reacts to this seemed way out of character.

I’m still not 100% sure about this book, though I think it is more of a 3.5 star for me. But I would recommend it to fantasy fans, because I think it plays with the genre in interesting ways. And I was undeniably interested to the story and was riveted from the 40% mark onwards. Overall: a good read, but not the masterpiece I had expected based on the hype.

Avatar for heather

Heather 3 of 5 stars


Ever 10 years the local wizard comes into the valley to choose a girl to live with him. Usually he chooses the most beautiful or talented. But this year, instead of taking Kasia who everyone knew was going to be the chosen one, he takes her friend Agnieszka because he recognizes her latent magical talent. He isn't happy about having a student especially when Agnieszka can't seem to master any spells.

There is a Wood at the end of the Valley. Monsters live in the wood. The wizard is supposed to protect the people in the valley from the Wood but there isn't really much he can do. If anyone is taken by the monsters, they are dead.

When the Wood attacks Agnieszka's home village and then takes someone that she cares for, she decides to use whatever magic she has to fight back.



The Good



  • I have a soft spot for non-World War II books set in Poland. This book is set in a fantasy version of Eastern Europe. The audio version of this book was done with a strong Eastern European accent which was a constant reminder of the world where it was set.

  • I like the fact that Agnieszka and the Dragon have very different systems of magic.  At first they don't even recognize the power that Agnieszka has because it is so different than what magic is supposed to look like.

  • There is a great story of female friendship here.  That's isn't something that is always seen in fantasy books.

  • Spoiler - Highlight to read - She sleeps with someone and then goes on with her life when a relationship doesn't develop.  She doesn't sit around and pine. There is some resolution of this at the end but there isn't a happily ever after.  That is refreshing.


The Bad



  • I'm not a person who routinely says that books are too long but this one started to really drag after a while.  I sped the audio up and powered through it.  There was a complex political world that Agnieszka was thrown into and it went on and on.

  • The Dragon is always written as annoyed or glaring.  Maybe he just a grumpy fella but don't try to make sympathetic and a potential romantic interest while having him be nasty to the character that you want him to get romantic with.  That's no basis for a relationship.

  • There is a point where a prince comes to visit them.  He attempts to rape Agnieszka.  She realizes her power at this point and not only fends him off but almost kills him.  The Dragon then explains this all to her by telling her that the Prince planned to insult him by raping her.  We are into some seriously problematic territory now.  Her personal autonomy doesn't come into consideration at all.  Then it gets worse.  They decide to plant a false memory so he doesn't realize that she was violent towards him.  The Dragon gives her a choice of letting him think that she complied enthusiastically to his sexual advances and they had a great time or that she complied but was really bad at it.  She half heartedly complains about this but no other options are considered.  I mean, if you can implant a false memory why not have him think he got drunk at dinner and went to bed?


Bottom Line


I liked it but it drug on audio.  Maybe read this one instead so you can go faster.  That's sad because the narration was really well done.This review was originally posted on Based On A True Story

Avatar for adecker

Austine (NovelKnight) 4 of 5 stars
Sometimes the dragon guards the tower. And sometimes he stomps around inside despairing about his dirty housemate.

Uprooted takes the classic idea of the dragon-guarded damsel in the tower and gives it new life. Agnieszka comes from a small village where, every so many years, the Dragon appears and takes a girl of a certain age to stay with him in his tower for a decade. The girls are then free to leave and generally do quite well for themselves afterward. Meanwhile, a sickness plagues the people living closest to the Wood, that which the Dragon protects them from. The Wood is no ordinary forest, but alive and ready to spill as much blood as necessary to spread its roots across the valley.

This book reads like a fairy tale retelling, and I mean that in the best way. The world is defined enough to satisfy the reader for the time being while the plot continues to thicken. There's more to this story than a girl in the tower. Uprooted isn't a character-driven novel much like fairy tales tend to focus more on the story and less on the characters, even going as far as not giving them names. And when it comes to the plot, this book steals the show. Everything is crafted and drawn out in such a beautiful way that it's hard to stop reading. Is it original? Not when it comes to fantasies. Evil monsters, dark forests, magic controlled by unpronounceable words. It's been done time and time again. Are the characters a little bland? Yes. But this brings me back to my earlier point.

I consider Uprooted to be in the realm of fairy tales. Perhaps because of that expectation, I didn't care so much that the characters were a little flat. There isn't much development there and if this was the first book in a series, I would knock of a star for that alone. Later Novik attempts a romance subplot between the Dragon and Agnieszka which could have been done without but it happened and I realized I didn't mind so much. To be perfectly honest, I can't really remember the characters from this book.

The story on the other hand, I loved. The evil of the Wood always creeping closer became more than just the grand evil of the world but almost a character on its own. Initially, Uprooted focuses on Agnieszka's time in the tower but by halfway through, she was out...and I was really confused because what could possibly happen after that. The story was done, right? Instead, Novik took the plot on the twists and turns of a roller-coaster, knocking the characters down one by one until I couldn't imagine it getting worse. I read this book in one sitting, couldn't put it down.

Is this book the next fantasy bestseller of all time? Absolutely not. Did I really enjoy it! You bet. And if you go into it with the intentions of enjoying it instead of performing a critical analysis, I think you'll enjoy it too!