Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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All Hail Skaven!
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I was going to make this a single post in the "what are you reading" thread - then I thought better of it and feel that I'll do my little bit to getting Naomi a spot in the "featured authors" section*. :)

For me I've been kind of dipping in and out of reading things for the past year or more; not really getting into any book long enough to finish (so ending up with a large to-read-pile). However, whilst there were more than a few distractions, Uprooted stuck with me and in a short (for me at my current reading/distraction speed) span of time I've closed the last pages of the story. Uprooted has that fresh feeling of inspiration and wonder that, I think, comes to authors when they get to stretch their wings** into something new and fresh. Something outside of the (typically) long series of stories that they make their name with.
I also feel that, as a writer, Naomi has improved and that Uprooted shows this marked improvement without being bound to her former stories. Thus letting the writer expand and use a new voice to tell this tale.

I would strongly recommend people to read this novel; at only just over 400 pages long and stand alone its a short adventure compared to the epic novels many write and read today which span many volumes of books.


And now I've kind of run out of things to say without starting to spoil the books contents or summarising things to the point where, rather like the blurb on the back of many a book, things start to sound just a little silly and far-fetched.

However if you've questions or want to chat about the book please do! I'd rather not see this novel lost next to the sea of her other works and overlooked.





*A most prestigious standing if ever there was one in the field of fictional writing

**dragon related pun intended
 

williamjm

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I read the first Temeraire book a few years ago and quite liked it, but never got round to reading the rest of the series. I read Uprooted last year and thought it was a much more compelling story than Temeraire had been, I think Novik has improved her writing and characterisation a lot since her first novel.
 

The Judge

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I read it last summer, and is the only book of hers I have read. I didn't make notes at the time, as I would usually do, so I'm going to have to dredge my memory here, but although it was OK, and it didn't take long to read, I can't say I was particularly impressed.

I'm not sure if it was intended as a YA book, but the main character's age and naivety made it feel YA for me, and the obvious disparity in the ages between her and the Dragon -- who isn't a dragon which rather p'ed me off, as that might have been interesting -- her fear of rape at the beginning, the controlling, verbally (and physically on occasion?) abusive behaviour from him towards her, and the general dynamic between them, rather concerned me as the beginning of a romantic relationship, and the sex scene I felt was gratuitous as well as unrealistic. She almost seemed to be a teenage-girl wish-fulfilment Twilight clone -- the clumsy, thinks-herself-plain girl who nonetheless wins the heart of the magical older guy. Granted this relationship arises because she actually has magical power herself, not just because she's clumsy and plain, but it still left something of a bad taste in my feminist mouth, and if it is YA I'm very worried about the message it's sending out to teenage girls.

Characterisation wasn't particularly strong, though there were some clever touches, such as the suppressed anger/envy of the beautiful girl who thought she would be taken by the Dragon but wasn't. The peasants had some reality and solidity, and I enjoyed the East European folk-tale nature of the story. I can't now recall what I thought of the writing, but I do remember that though I thought the idea of the evil wood was fine -- if not over-original -- I felt somewhat shortchanged by the continual dumping of backstory and the hurried resolution.

Overall, I'd perhaps give it a grudging 3 stars, but if her writing and story-telling have improved with this one, I really don't think her earlier books are for me.
 
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