Q: What do you call a dragon who falls behind the others?
A: Laggin’ dragon.
And, I’ll be taking part in SpoYo, the Spokane Youth Book Festival on October 10th. It says they connect young people with authors “to nurture love of books, promote literacy, and inspire students to see themselves as creators.” This is a new event for me, and I look forward to going.
Read Full Post »
Posted in Books & Movies, tagged Deby Fredericks, dragons, fantasy, fantasy fiction, folklore, Lucy D. Ford, Naomi Novik, Uprooted, wizards, YA fantasy on September 22, 2015|
Leave a Comment »
Novik, the author best known for her Temeraire series, takes a break with a different sort of dragon. Uprooted is another alternate history, this one set in Eastern Europe during the Renaissance. The two main kingdoms are clearly analogues to Poland and Russia. There are also persistent references to an ancient witch named Jaga, who seems quite similar to the folk character Baba Yaga.
This is an excellent book, full of foreboding. I raced through it, desperate to know what would happen. It has a great Brothers Grimm feeling, along with the thriller’s pacing. There’s a brave heroine whose growing power doesn’t fit the mold of how magic should be done. There’s a best friend who faces the worst and emerges more than human. There’s some fairly scathing comment about how politics work, and how one wounded heart can destroy everything a society tries to build. And there’s the Dragon.
Sarkan is the greatest wizard in the world, a hateful enigma who holds himself apart from ordinary people — except for one young woman he snatches away every tenth year. In this world, wizards and witches stop aging when their powers arise. Time slowly takes all their loved ones. This reality has made the Dragon bitter, sarcastic, impatient and demanding. As the tale unfolds, you can see that he is also lonely, noble, working relentlessly to protect the very people he chooses not to engage with.
Agnieska, the heroine, challenges everything about the Dragon. His way of magic doesn’t work for her, and hers is nonsense to him. Her love of family and friendship cracks his self-imposed isolation. Throughout Uprooted, these two struggle toward an understanding and a partnership that, in the end, Sarkan rejects. He leaves Agnieska and finds a different way to isolate himself.
I’ve heard many comparisons to “Beauty and the Beast,” which I don’t think truly fit this tale. I admire Novik for not making Sarkan fall in love and “get better” in the obvious, romantic way. Only in the last few pages does it seem that Agnieska may have changed him at all.
Some sources say this book stands alone, and others say it’s the start of a series. Whichever the case may be, it’s very much worth reading.
Read Full Post »