I’ve been a sickie all weekend, which is the WORST way to spend a few days. This thing just kept hanging on, too. I felt a little scratchy of throat on Thursday night, and I’m only just back to the land of the living today. I feel better than I sound, which is a combination of stuffy and gravely. The house is a mess, the laundry did not get done. The only silver lining was the mass amount of fudgesickles I had an excuse to eat.
I did, however, get quite a lot of reading done. I just read Naomi Novik’s “Uprooted,” which has been on my list since it won the Nebula for Best Novel.
I’ll tell you right now it was SO well deserved. The basic premise is that there’s a Dragon in the tower in the valley Agnieszka lives in, only he’s not an actual dragon. He’s a wizard named Dragon, and every ten years he takes a girl to live with him and she never comes home again. The villagers put up with it because he saves them from the horrible infestation of things that live in the forest that’s forever encroaching on their territory, and a girl every ten years is his only request. He treats them well.
Agnieszka is one of the girls who will be sixteen when the Dragon needs to take his next girl. Against all assumptions (it’s supposed to be her pretty, accomplished best friend), she gets picked. But her ties to the land and to her family are too strong for her to stay in the tower as the rest of the girls did. And that sets off a chain of events in which kingdom politics, wars, assassinations, infected tree people, and an innocent village will combine together in a fight against nature itself with no one on the side they seem to be. It’s not a Young Adult novel, either. It gets both bloody and sexual at times, though mostly it’s not.
Add that to a little bit of love story, and it’s basically the perfect novel. It made me remember why I like fantasy so much, and reminded of Robin McKinley without the problems of unsatisfied plot lines I sometimes have with her Damar series. It reminded me a little of Ursula K. LeGuin’s Tenar in the desert too, though Agneiszka’s problem is that she loves too much where Tenar’s is that she can’t love at all.
I’ll be buying the fancy hard cover version of this, and maybe also reading everything else Novik’s ever written (we’ll see). I highly recommend that you check it out, too, if you have any interest in Fantasy at all. This is the best of what the genre has to offer.