Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Uprooted author, Naomi Novik, is best known for her Temeraire series. That series is a set of nine novels set in a fantasy/alternative Earth history world, where talking dragons carry their captains and crew into Napoleonic battles.
Uprooted was published in 2015, and winner of 2016’s Nebula and Locus awards, singular awards in the worlds of science fiction and fantasy. I first read Uprooted without knowing that it had garnered such prestigious awards and was immediately captivated by its simple, yet compelling prose.The novel features beautiful, calm storytelling, flesh-and-blood characters, and it a tale of good triumphing over magical evil.
The main character is a simple country girl called Agnieszka, who saves her best friend Kasia from a fate worse than death at the valley’s Choosing. Once a decade, a powerful Mage known as the Dragon extracts tribute from the valley residents, choosing and taking a young woman as his companion in return for his magical protection of the entire valley.
At some point in the story, the reader begins to realise that Agnieszka is capable of magic too and that the Mage can also be human (and defeated by his enemies). The remainder of the book is a wonderful story of setbacks, small triumphs, appalling revelations of truths and the finding of love.
Thoroughly recommended for fantasy readers.