I'm Abe Wolfgang, an Electrical Engineer, writer, Father, husband, and full-time lover of story. I blog about those stories, how they impact us as humans, and why they are important. Occasionally I write my own as well.

Book Review: Uprooted

Book Review: Uprooted

Uprooted - by Naomi Novik  (2015)

Uprooted - by Naomi Novik
 (2015)

What do I say about this book? It's a coming of age tale, a dark faerie tale, a story about magic and love and loss. It's a story about the ties that we have to our family, our birthplace. Ultimately? It's a story about unity.

Something that I really enjoy in Fantasy novels is unique magic, or magic that is used in unique ways. If you read my review of The Black Prism, you know that I really dug on the idea of light as fuel for magic. That system of magic was really well developed and spelled out to the point where you could really understand what was possible and which rules could be broken and how the world worked. But that's just one end of the spectrum. On the other end is Gandalf, where you see the power, you see the magic, but you're never quite sure what the limitations are or if there are any at all.

This book falls toward the Gandalf end of the spectrum, but at the same time it's also really well defined. We have a character who is magical, who discovers this power that she is able to use, and she almos immediately begins breaking the rules. Cleverly, it's done under the nose of the most powerful of the wizards who is completely confounded about how anything that she does works. He's a slave to this scientific approach that doesn't allow for any of the magic that she is able to harness.

And that is delightful and refreshing. Delightfully refreshing.

But the magic isn't the point of the story. It plays a part, and it is critical to the resolution of the story, but it isn't the story itself. This is a story about a girl and her struggle to liberate her home from the clutches of a dark and twisted wood full of magic that corrupts all who touch it. It's really a story about how evil can penetrate into the heart of people, to get them to do its will, and about the struggle between good and evil. You can read a lot into it, or you can just enjoy the tale as it is told to you, and I think that's the sign of a good book. It feels accessible and at the same time very deep.

One particular aspect about the book that I loved was the portrayal of characters. The protagonist is clumsy and messy and not always that competent, but she is extremely likable and oozes good nature. She drives the story and it's great. But where I think this book really shines is the characters next to her. There are a few wizards that we meet along the way, and both of them travel this interesting arc between being likable and detestable. Their actions, seen through the eyes of this young woman, twist and turned in my mind as I read, trying to figure out whether or not they had good intentions. Without spoiling anything, there is a level of political intrigue that I think is enough to satisfy any Fantasy junky.

Overall, I recommend this book. Best of all, it's new, and as far as I can tell it's a standalone novel so you get a complete story in one book. That's hard to come by in Fantasy these days, so it's always a treat when it's done well. And this one is done well.

Go forth and read!

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My Work in Progress

Where's that Story?

Where's that Story?