by Naomi Novik
Published by Del Rey, 2015
Synopsis: “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.
“It was all right when I did it,” I said, “but when you did it, it was wrong. As though–you were following a trail, but a tree had fallen down in the meantime, or some hedge grew up, and you insisted on continuing on anyway, instead of going around it–”
“There are no hedges!” he roared.
“It comes, I suppose,” I said thoughtfully, speaking to the air, of spending too much time alone indoors, and forgetting that living things don’t always stay where you put them.”
He ordered me from the room in stiff fury.
- I love this fantasy. Such a good book and so fun to read.
- The author grew up listening to Polish fairy tales and with this story she pays her respect to that beginning.
- I also love the cover of this book. I think it’s my favorite of the year so far.
- I like the way Ms. Novik took a story, a trope about young women given to a dragon–and completely changes it. It’s still a fairy tale just not the one we think it is. I love the opening sentences: “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 . . . .”
- A book of magic–wizards and witches–and some kind of alien evil in the woods. And different types of magic which neither group understands.
- This isn’t a young adult fantasy even though the main character is just 17.
- The friendships (or lack of them) in this book are so important to the story. Especially the friendship between Agnieszka and Kasia.
- I like that the romance in this story is not the focus. I’ve mentioned before I like my fantasy without a lot of romance.
- I like the mysteries in this fantasy. What exactly is the Wood? How and why does it do the things it does? What is happening in the capital? What does the Dragon do to keep the valley safe? Why does he take a young woman from the valley every ten years?
- The answers to all these questions make a great story.
- Every part of this story is wonderful. I recommend this story to anyone who likes fantasy. And even those who think they don’t!
- I would love to read more books set in this world.
And a few thoughts . . .
- I recently found His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik in a box of books I was sorting to donate to my library. That makes me happy! I’ve had the book for quite awhile and now I really want to read it now that I’ve had a taste of Ms. Novik’s writing.
Have you read this book? How did you like it?
- Naomi Novik lives in NYC with her husband and many computers. She grew up listening to Polish folk tales. Her first novel–His Majesty’s Dragon–was published in 2006. This was the first book in the Temeraire series about the Napoleonic Wars–but with dragons! And now she has written Uprooted–an entirely different fantasy.
- 2015 Goodreads Challenge
- Library Challenge–hosted by Sheila @ the Book Journey blog
- New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog