#Uprooted by Naomi Novik spoiler-free mini review
Uprooted is a fantasy novel by Naomi Novik, who is known for her Temeraire series of books. I myself was completely new to her as an author when I stumbled across Uprooted and decided to give it a punt solely on the premise from the blurb and the stunning cover.
The novel has been nominated for and winner of many accolades the 2016 Nebula Award for Best Novel and the 2016 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel amongst others, and it's easy to see why.
Uprooted feels like a fantasy story for a modern age, in that whilst it contains many expected features of fantasy fiction; wizards, magic, monsters and a young, expecting heroine, the way in which the story is told and the descriptions of the quaint villages to the elaborate dress sense of the feared wizard known as the Dragon, all feel extremely fresh and original.
There are many twists and turns throughout; many characters, some definitely more likable than others without being less significant to the plot; lots of locations and many magical beings and elements. Nothing feels over described, detailing the world believably without pandering to the readership. The writing is often beautiful, and I actually found myself re-reading segments purely because of how they felt to read. I especially like the descriptions of how magic is controlled through voice and when it works, it works because the user has stumbled across the correct way to perform or annunciate or sing a spell, instead of simply learning words and performing a spell.
The evil blight that plagues the land is an interesting and original concept too. Our heroine Agnieszka's small country village is plagued by an evil lurking in the nearby wood, and the creatures within are all strange, horrifying and unique. It can be fairly frightening and gruesome in places, with battle scenes epically told and descriptions, such as the use of magical fire to burn enemies, is intricate in it's detail.
The novel is also strangely romantic; it's a lovely story not only between some of the characters, but also between our heroine and her home land. She cares for everyone and everything, deeply, and quite simply wants to help in anyway she can, despite her self-deprecating sense of uselessness. For this quality, I found myself drawn to Agnieszka; she's an endearing and likable character,
I found the story a little long towards the end; the concluding events seemed to keep returning to the brink when you believe all is lost, and back again a few too many times, and I struggled to stay as absorbed for the duration. I was however rewarded for my perseverance, with an extremely satisfying and equally beautifully written conclusion.
In all, I would recommend this story for fans of innovative fantasy fiction, just with the proviso of being persistent to the end. It's worth it.