Uprooted

Uprooted

by Naomi Novik
4.7 96

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Overview

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

WINNER OF THE NEBULA AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL • Naomi Novik, author of the New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed Temeraire novels, introduces a bold new world rooted in folk stories and legends, as elemental as a Grimm fairy tale.

HUGO AWARD FINALIST • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR | BuzzFeed | Tordotcom | BookPage | Library Journal | Publishers Weekly

Uprooted is confidently wrought and sympathetically cast. I might even call it bewitching.”—Gregory Maguire, bestselling author of Wicked and Egg & Spoon

“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.

Praise for Uprooted

Uprooted has leapt forward to claim the title of Best Book I’ve Read Yet This Year. . . . Moving, heartbreaking, and thoroughly satisfying, Uprooted is the fantasy novel I feel I’ve been waiting a lifetime for. Clear your schedule before picking it up, because you won’t want to put it down.”—NPR

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780804179058
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/01/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 9,133
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Naomi Novik is the acclaimed author of the Temeraire series: His Majesty’s Dragon, Throne of Jade, Black Powder War, Empire of Ivory, Victory of Eagles, Tongues of Serpents, Crucible of Gold, Blood of Tyrants, and League of Dragons. She has been nominated for the Hugo Award and has won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, as well as the Locus Award for Best New Writer and the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel. She is also the author of Uprooted and the graphic novel Will Supervillains Be on the Final? She lives in New York City with her husband Charles Ardai, the founder of Hard Case Crime, and their daughter, Evidence, surrounded by an excessive number of purring computers.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

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.

He doesn’t devour them really; it only feels that way. He takes a girl to his tower, and ten years later he lets her go, but by then she’s someone different. Her clothes are too fine and she talks like a courtier and she’s been living alone with a man for ten years, so of course she’s ruined, even though the girls all say he never puts a hand on them. What else could they say? And that’s not the worst of it—­after all, the Dragon gives them a purse full of silver for their dowry when he lets them go, so anyone would be happy to marry them, ruined or not.

But they don’t want to marry anyone. They don’t want to stay at all.

“They forget how to live here,” my father said to me once, unexpectedly. I was riding next to him on the seat of the big empty wagon, on our way home after delivering the week’s firewood. We lived in Dvernik, which wasn’t the biggest village in the valley or the smallest, or the one nearest the Wood: we were seven miles away. The road took us up over a big hill, though, and at the top on a clear day you could see along the river all the way to the pale grey strip of burned earth at the leading edge, and the solid dark wall of trees beyond. The Dragon’s tower was a long way in the other direction, a piece of white chalk stuck in the base of the western mountains.

I was still very small—­not more than five, I think. But I already knew that we didn’t talk about the Dragon, or the girls he took, so it stuck in my head when my father broke the rule.

“They remember to be afraid,” my father said. That was all. Then he clucked to the horses and they pulled on, down the hill and back into the trees.

It didn’t make much sense to me. We were all afraid of the Wood. But our valley was home. How could you leave your home? And yet the girls never came back to stay. The Dragon let them out of the tower, and they came back to their families for a little while—­for a week, or sometimes a month, never much more. 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, although some people did whisper about Jadwiga Bach, who’d been taken sixty years ago, that she became a courtesan and the mistress of a baron and a duke. But by the time I was born, she was just a rich old woman who sent splendid presents to all her grand-­nieces and nephews, and never came for a visit.

So that’s hardly like handing your daughter over to be eaten, but it’s not a happy thing, either. There aren’t so many villages in the valley that the chances are very low—­he takes only a girl of seventeen, born between one October and the next. There were eleven girls to choose from in my year, and that’s worse odds than dice. Everyone says you love a Dragon-­born girl differently as she gets older; you can’t help it, knowing you so easily might lose her. But it wasn’t like that for me, for my parents. By the time I was old enough to understand that I might be taken, we all knew he would take Kasia.

Only travelers passing through, who didn’t know, ever complimented Kasia’s parents or told them how beautiful their daughter was, or how clever, or how nice. The Dragon didn’t always take the prettiest girl, but he always took the most special one, somehow: if there was one girl who was far and away the prettiest, or the most bright, or the best dancer, or especially kind, somehow he always picked her out, even though he scarcely exchanged a word with the girls before he made his choice.

And Kasia was all those things. She had thick wheat-­golden hair that she kept in a braid to her waist, and her eyes were warm brown, and her laugh was like a song that made you want to sing it. She thought of all the best games, and could make up stories and new dances out of her head; she could cook fit for a feast, and when she spun the wool from her father’s sheep, the thread came off the wheel smooth and even without a single knot or snarl.

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. And I wasn’t old enough to be wise, so I loved her more, not less, because I knew she would be taken from me soon.

She didn’t mind it, she said. She was fearless, too: her mother Wensa saw to that. “She’ll have to be brave,” I remember hearing her say to my mother once, while she prodded Kasia to climb a tree she’d hung back from, and my mother hugging her, with tears.

We lived only three houses from one another, and I didn’t have a sister of my own, only three brothers much older than me. Kasia was my dearest. We played together from our cradles, first in our mothers’ kitchens keeping out from underfoot and then in the streets before our houses, until we were old enough to go running wild in the woods. I never wanted to be anywhere inside when we could be running hand-­in-­hand beneath the branches. I imagined the trees bending their arms down to shelter us. I didn’t know how I would bear it, when the Dragon took her.

My parents wouldn’t have feared for me, very much, even if there hadn’t been Kasia. 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. My mother despaired of me by the time I was twelve and let me run around in castoffs from my older brothers, except for feast days, when I was obliged to change only twenty minutes before we left the house, and then sit on the bench before our door until we walked to church. It was still even odds whether I’d make it to the village green without catching on some branch, or spattering myself with mud.

“You’ll have to marry a tailor, my little Agnieszka,” my father would say, laughing, when he came home from the forest at night and I went running to meet him, grubby-­faced, with at least one hole about me, and no kerchief. He swung me up anyway and kissed me; my mother only sighed a little: what parent could really be sorry, to have a few faults in a Dragon-­born girl?

Our last summer before the taking was long and warm and full of tears. Kasia didn’t weep, but I did. We’d linger out late in the woods, stretching each golden day as long as it would go, and then I would come home hungry and tired and go straight to lie down in the dark. My mother would come in and stroke my head, singing softly while I cried myself to sleep, and leave a plate of food by my bed for when I woke up in the middle of the night with hunger. She didn’t try to comfort me otherwise: how could she? We both knew that no matter how much she loved Kasia, and Kasia’s mother Wensa, she couldn’t help but have a small glad knot in her belly—­not my daughter, not my only one. And of course, I wouldn’t really have wanted her to feel any other way.

It was just me and Kasia together, nearly all that summer. It had been that way for a long time. We’d run with the crowd of village children when we were young, but as we got older, and Kasia more beautiful, her mother had said to her, “It’s best if you don’t see much of the boys, for you and them.” But I clung to her, and my mother did love Kasia and Wensa enough not to try and pry me loose, even though she knew that it would hurt me more in the end.

On the last day, I found us a clearing in the woods where the trees still had their leaves, golden and flame-­red rustling all above us, with ripe chestnuts all over the ground. We made a little fire out of twigs and dry leaves to roast a handful. Tomorrow was the first of October, and the great feast would be held to show honor to our patron and lord. Tomorrow, the Dragon would come.

“It would be nice to be a troubadour,” Kasia said, lying on her back with her eyes closed. She hummed a little: a traveling singer had come for the festival, and he’d been practicing his songs on the green that morning. The tribute wagons had been arriving all week. “To go all over Polnya, and sing for the king.”

She said it thoughtfully, not like a child spinning clouds; she said it like someone really thinking about leaving the valley, going away forever. I put my hand out and gripped hers. “And you’d come home every Midwinter,” I said, “and sing us all the songs you’d learned.” We held on tight, and I didn’t let myself remember that the girls the Dragon took never wanted to come back.

Of course at that moment I only hated him ferociously. But he wasn’t a bad lord. On the other side of the northern mountains, the Baron of the Yellow Marshes kept an army of five thousand men to take to Polnya’s wars, and a castle with four towers, and a wife who wore jewels the color of blood and a white fox-­fur cloak, all on a domain no richer than our valley. The men had to give one day a week of work to the baron’s fields, which were the best land, and he’d take likely sons for his army, and with all the soldiers wandering around, girls had to stay indoors and in company once they got to be women. And even he wasn’t a bad lord.

The Dragon only had his one tower, and not a single man-­at-­arms, or even a servant, besides the one girl he took. He didn’t have to keep an army: the service he owed the king was his own labor, his magic. He had to go to court sometimes, to renew his oath of loyalty, and I suppose the king could have called him to war, but for the most part his duty was to stay here and watch the Wood, and protect the kingdom from its malice.

His only extravagance was books. We were well read by the standards of villagers, because he would pay gold for a single great tome, and so the book-­peddlers came all this way, even though our valley was at the very edge of Polnya. And as long as they were coming, they filled up the saddlebags of their mules with whatever worn-­out or cheaper stock of books they had and sold them to us for our pennies. It was a poor house in the valley that didn’t have at least two or three books proudly displayed upon the walls.

These might all seem like small and petty things, little enough cause to give up a daughter, to anyone who didn’t live near enough the Wood to understand. But I had lived through the Green Summer, when a hot wind carried pollen from the Wood west a long way into the valley, into our fields and gardens. The crops grew furiously lush, but also strange and misshapen. Anyone who ate of them grew sick with anger, struck at their families, and in the end ran into the Wood and vanished, if they weren’t tied down.

I was six years old at the time. My parents tried to shelter me as much as they could, but even so I remembered vividly the cold clammy sense of dread everywhere, everyone afraid, and the never-­ending bite of hunger in my belly. We had eaten through all our last year’s stores by then, counting on the spring. One of our neighbors ate a few green beans, driven foolish by hunger. I remember the screams from his house that night, and peering out the window to see my father running to help, taking the pitchfork from where it leaned against our barn.

One day that summer, too young to understand the danger properly, I escaped my tired, thin mother’s watch and ran into the forest. I found a half-­dead bramble, in a nook sheltered from the wind. I pushed through the hard dead branches to the protected heart and dug out a miraculous handful of blackberries, not misshapen at all, whole and juicy and perfect. Every one was a burst of joy in my mouth. I ate two handfuls and filled my skirt; I hurried home with them soaking purple stains through my dress and my mother wept with horror when she saw my smeared face. I didn’t sicken: the bramble had somehow escaped the Wood’s curse, and the blackberries were good. But her tears frightened me badly; I shied from blackberries for years after.

The Dragon had been called to court that year. He came back early and rode straight to the fields and called down magic fire to burn all that tainted harvest, every poisoned crop. That much was his duty, but afterwards he went to every house where anyone had sickened, and he gave them a taste of a magic cordial that cleared their minds. He gave orders that the villages farther west, which had escaped the blight, should share their harvest with us, and he even gave up his own tribute that year entirely so none of us would starve. The next spring, just before the planting season, he went through the fields again to burn out the few corrupted remnants before they could take fresh root.

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Uprooted 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 96 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have loved fantasies and fairy tales for as long as I can remember. The summary of this book immediately caught my interest. I have a Nook and through that I read the sample offered, which is quite long for a book sample. It ended at such a great cliffhanger that I had to get it! The rest of the book was just as magical, detailed, enthralling, and funny as it was in the beginning. There were many twists that I did not see coming. The ending was very sweet and made me grin for about 10 minutes after finishing. If you enjoy fairy tales, I highly recommend this book. It is vastly different from anything I've ever read, and I will more likely than not reread it several times.
Caroles_Random_Life More than 1 year ago
5 Stars! I wish that I could give this book more than 5 stars because it was absolutely fantastic. Hands down, this was the best book that I have read so far this year. I started this book right before a really busy weekend of traveling which was a HUGE mistake. I say this because I just wanted to stay home and read this book once I started it. I didn't want to go to work. I didn't want to do anything else but live inside the pages of this book. This book had everything. It had magic, mystique, a vivid setting, compelling characters, and even a bit of romance. I almost felt like I was living inside a fairy tale, expect this story was better than your average fairy tale. This was a intricately plotted novel of fantasy that made me feel for the characters. The descriptions were incredibly vivid and the world building was seamless. I had expected this book to be aimed at a YA audience. The main character, Agnieszka, is a teenager herself but this book was really an adult novel. There was a lot of violence that I didn't expect going in and I think it added to the story for me but some of the descriptions could be troubling for younger teen. I loved so many of the characters. Agnieszka was everything I wish I had been as a 17 year old. She was tough and not easily intimidated. When she was chosen by the Dragon, she was surprised but she tried her best to do as expected. The Dragon became more likeable with every page and by the end of the book he found his way into my heart. Kasia was probably the toughest person in the story. I can't imagine how she can be so steady after all that she goes through in the book. I just love everything about how this book was written. I connected to the characters very quickly and the story pulled me in almost immediately. The pacing was incredibly well done and I don't think I found a single spot in the book that I found to be boring. The story took a few turns that were completely unexpected that kept everything very exciting. I love that this story came to a solid resolution. I am not sure if this is the beginning of a planned series or not. While I would welcome another story set in this world featuring these characters, I feel completely satisfied with this story. I would highly recommend this book to everyone. I really do think that this story will appeal to a very wide audience although it may not be appropriate for younger teens. This is the first book by Naomi Novik that I have read but I plan to check out her other books soon. I received a copy of this book from Random House - Del Ray via Edelweiss for the purpose of providing an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I stumbled across this in the nook shop while I was sifting through the new releases. I almost didn't even click on it! I am certainly not a teenager and I usually don't read things that look too YA. If you enjoy Sharon Shinn's 12 houses series or Summer at Castle Auburn, you will love this. The romance (if it can even truly be labeled that) was so real and mild that I would gladly recommend this book to anyone 13+. There is one sexual scene but it wasn't too racy in my opinion. I can't wait to dive in to more works from this author. Hopefully this will branch out (hehe) into a delightful series about the wood, and the people around it. Thanks Naomi Novik! Keep up the great writing. JT
DiiMI More than 1 year ago
There is only one power that stands between Agnieszka’s village and the evil of The Wood, and he is called the Dragon. Ancient wizard full of powerful magic, the Dragon rarely visits the village he protects. Once every ten years he requires a young maiden to serve him. She stays until the next choosing, but returning to her village is almost impossible, because each young woman is changed. It is time for the choosing and Agnieszka knows her best friend Kasia will be chosen, beautiful, brave and kind, but the quiet and scowling man doesn’t do the expected. He chooses the village’s most clumsy and tomboyish girl, Agnieszka. And the life she is brought into starts as a nightmare of epic proportions as the Dragon belittles her, mocks her and forces her to try magic, of which, she is certain, she has none. When danger raises its ugly head, only the bravery and the strength of one young woman who stumbles over her incantations, making a mockery of many of them and one mysterious wizard can stand against the hordes. In every heart lies a hero, but it can be awakened only when it hears its own call. Since I first read and re-read Temeraire’s tales, I have been a dyed in the wool Naomi Novik fan; hanging on every bit of news I would hear about “the next book.” Now I have another reason to await the words of a master of fantasy! Uprooted is like reading a childhood fairytale all grown up. A mysterious, stuffed shirt wizard and a free –spirited young woman , as unlikely of allies as ever could be play their parts beautifully, with touches of humor, a little defiant attitude and a whole lot of heart! Don’t be afraid to pick up this fairytale, it rings with passion, danger, bravery, dark myths and mysteries and the ultimate battle between good and evil. Now go, put it on your must read list…you'll be glad you did! I received an ARC edition from Random House Publishing Group - Del Rey Spectra in exchange for my honest review.
kiki76 More than 1 year ago
The author's creativity is amazing! Fantastic book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was absolutely lovely to read. Adventure, mystery, magic, battles, a little romance, likeable characters and suitably hissable villains. Everything you want from a fantasy novel. Just a darned good story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful fairy tale style fantasy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a splendid read! I had the sample in my Nook library for a while. Yet, just as the wood and her power called to Neishka I was drawn to this book! I am hopeful for another story in this realm! ??????????
Anonymous 4 months ago
I came into this extremely wary, but at no point does this story falter or flounder. The plot is tight and precise, the characters likable and flawed, with just enough content in the overall book to satisfy. I will gladly reread it over and over again, and enjoy it every time.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Couldnt put it down!!
Anonymous 12 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book continues to drag you further and further in to a story that continues to twist and turn in unpredictable and enchanting ways . The characters are both lovable and rich. The world-building is exceptional. The language and writing are an absolute joy to read. I completely recommend this book.
Janeite98 More than 1 year ago
Best book I have read this year! I absolutely love the world and the characters from this book. I can't stop thinking about them or this world. It will definitely be a re-read for years to come! My goal is to read everything Naomi Novik has written
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved everything about this novel. A great read
eclecticreaderCA More than 1 year ago
A beautiful story suitable for all ages. Exceptionally well written by a creative and talented writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great book, I couldn't put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another winner from Naomi Novik
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great story of magic, how vengeance starts, and how a wizard and a newly discovered witch conquer the unconquerable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was captive from the moment i started reading. I think i stayed up to 4 or 5 am to finish it (much to my chagrin later that day at work). A whimsical and winding story that brings in bits and pieces of folklore, with a dash of romance. The writing reminds me of Patricia McKilip and i just love the personalities of the characters and the quality of the worldbuilding and culture. Hope to maybe see another entry in this world, even though it looks like a standalone.
GypsyL More than 1 year ago
I am so happy I picked this book up! I gobbled it up in one completely decadent sitting and finished satisfied and happy. I will definitely be checking out Ms. Novik's other books, as this is the first book of hers I've had the pleasure to read. If I had to compare it with another book I would say it reminds me the most of Grace Darven's Master of Crows. The biggest difference being the age of the heroine, and the fact that Master of Crows is firmly a romance book with Fantasy elements, while this one is a Fantasy book with romantic elements. But the writing is excellent and the FEELING of the books, for me, was similar. And that is a high compliment from me as Master of Crows a very high bar in my opinion. I am not going to do a plot summary. Why? Aside from the fact that there are over 1000 reviews with many of them providing this: the "plot summary" of this book really only covers the first third. A young, unprepared and silly girl is chosen by a wizard who is old, set in his ways, and arrogant as heck to be his ... well, why DID he chose her? There were better options. Maybe. But... as I said, that really only covers the first half the book. the second half is best summed up as "our heroine discovers that life with the wizard was paradise compared to what comes next" and "our heroine finds herself and her path" for that third. Honestly, one of the most remarkable things about this book is that Ms. Novik covers in ONE book what other authors fail to accomplish in trilogies. And excellent read. Particularly if you love fantasy and coming of age stories.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having thoroughly enjoyed the Temeraire series, I can easily say Uprooted is by far Novik's best work. Thrilling and refreshing throughout with fascinating characters set in a world filled with the powers of nature and magic. Incredibly difficult to put down for work and sleep an still finished in three sittings.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago