Author: Naomi Novik
Genre: Fantasy YA
First Published: 2015
Page Count: 435
Film/ TV Adaptation: No
Rating: 4/5 Stars
The storyline is completely unexpected but entertaining nevertheless.
*Epic Fantasy Tale *Strong Female Lead
*Side Story Romance
“He wasn’t a person, he was a lord and a wizard, a strange creature on another plane entirely, as far removed as storms and pestilence.” Every ten years, a young woman is given to the Dragon to serve him until their ten-year sentence is over. The Dragon is a powerful wizard residing in a tower who protects nearby villages from the evil of the corrupted Wood which borders the kingdom. It is well-known that the beautiful and accomplished Kasia will probably be chosen as the Dragon’s next captive. Agnieszka is Kasia’s dear friend, and desperate to save her from her fate. However, it comes as quite a shock when the Dragon doesn’t make the obvious choice of picking Kasia.
The story in this book was completely different from what I expected, but I was not disappointed either. I had heard this was a Beauty and the Beast type story and expected a lot of romance but I didn’t see very much of either. What I did see was the tale of a young woman who had lived in the shadow of a beloved friend and becomes strong and beautiful in her own way when she learns about who she is and the power inside her. This book is completely driven by Agnieszka’s bravery, intelligence, and strength and this is one of the few books where it feels like a woman truly doesn’t need a man to make positive change. Aside from that, the evil of the Wood and its widespread corruption across the kingdom make the book feel like a very epic adventure story. There are politics, magic, war, and a coming of age story all in one book which keep the story moving because of all the elements presented in it.
Initially I had a hard time getting a handle on what type of story I was getting into. As described above, I expected a Beauty and the Beast type story where Agnieszka would be describing life as a sequestered prisoner in the Dragon’s tower. I was disappointed the story wasn’t going this direction and a bit of me still is even after finishing. However, I did thoroughly enjoy what the author gave us instead, but the romance was a complete afterthought in this book. There are literally two (maybe you could argue three) scenes that advance any relationship between the Dragon and Agnieszka. Because of this, I wish the romance would have been nixed completely or given more attention. The relationship between Agnieskza and the Dragon feels more like two allies then two lovebirds. Therefore, it felt more natural to just leave any romance out of it. I thought any dance related to their feelings was distracting and the Dragon could have easily been more of a fatherly or brotherly mentor to Agnieszka then a love interest.
There is no doubt that this is a fantastic fantasy story and I wouldn’t mind a sequel or two provided we get the same quality writing. While the book was not what I expected, I wouldn’t change the story because it still was a great read. Fans of magic and fantasy should definitely check out this book but also be wary if you are also hoping for a strong romance plot line. I wouldn’t hesitate to check out Novik’s other work’s after seeing what she gave readers in Uprooted.