Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Uprooted

So, it’s been a few weeks.

I’d like to apologise to anyone dying for Part Four of The Arthur Lien Abductions already. I am behind deadline, yes, but it should (hopefully) be out within the week. Between scathing modernism essays and health issues at home, I’ve had less time to devote to writing the last month.

But that hasn’t stopped my avidly listening to audiobooks while doing other menial tasks!

As you might expect, I’m a little behind on reviews as well. In addition to Uprooted by Naomi Novik – which I’ll tell you all about in a minute – I’m also already onto the third book in the Throne Of Glass series by Sarah J Maas, so reviews of all those will also been coming henceforth. But for now… Uprooted.

Uprooted is a trilogy in a single book.

It began in a pretty straightforward fashion. Little village. Teenage girl. Wizard who calls himself Dragon comes every ten years and takes away a teenage girl to live with him in his tower and be his servant or maid or something potentially more sinister. Protagonist has known her whole life that her best friend, the most beautiful girl in the village would be taken from her by the Dragon, when suddenly, she gets chosen instead.

Now I don’t mind sharing this, because it’s all first chapter stuff, but I’m going to pretty strictly avoid specific spoilery things from here on out, except to give you some general impressions of things like shape and size, if not spots or stripes.

Novik’s prose-style, in comparison to someone like Brandon Sanderson’s, was rather literary, making the novel a little less like a YA (young adult/teen) novel and more like a NA (new adult) one, and so for how, for lack of a better term, flowery, her language was, I quite expected the plot to grow as such.

To my shock and dismay, it didn’t progress as I initially expected at all. Big things started happening, and I was, quite frankly, a little put out.

There was, in my mind, no way at all she was going to be able to build this throughout the story and finish with an appropriately large finish for what she was already doing four or five chapters in.

When the next big challenge came along, I was even more put out. That was the book ending climax! And only a third of the way through the book!

What on earth was she playing at here? And if she possibly did maintain a continual build, and pull of some amazing epic ending, why hadn’t she split the book into three parts and expanded each part into a novel-length section itself. It would give her a greater chance to delve a little more into the smaller details of the world and the magic and the characters.

Anyway, so I kept on reading, and sure enough, the plot moved on to a new central location, and had a few more, perpetually bigger epic plot points; things continued to accelerate, the stakes rose and the protagonist came into herself as a character, everything you want in a good sequel.

So I kept on reading, beginning to read for enjoyment now instead of incredulity, and things continued to build and build and build and eventually everything wrapped itself up in a picture far different from the one I’d imagined when beginning the novel.

She’d done it. She’d convinced me that this was indeed an awesome story. I just still really wish she’d done it as a trilogy. I think there was so much missed-out potential in a trilogy.

And admittedly, one other thing that bothered me was the protagonist’s name. It was kind of ugly-sounding. (I’m a songwriter and lyricist. Words are important to me. And names especially so.)

So the name gave unconscious negative connotations to the character. But then later, in what I’m calling “Book Two”, she has the chance to have magic reveal her a new name, and when it doesn’t seem to be working, instead of awesomely coming through in her own way, like she always does, she just says, “well, what is wrong the name I already have?” and keeps it!

I mean, come on! I think Novik was trying to make some sort of a point there, and I didn’t enjoy it.

But oh well. I’m still giving it four heart-trees out of five.

So if you’re looking for a great new fantasy series, with a slightly different sort of magic and story, look no further than this single book. The title suits the story thematically in so many ways. It’s just brilliant.

QOTB: Can you name any other books so vast in scale that it should have been broken up into parts but wasn’t?

And don’t forget that when Part Four: The Trap comes out next week, Part Three: The Quest will drop down to only 99c (US) on Amazon Kindle, just like Part One: The Secret and Part Two: The Mystery.

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