When a novel starts with a dragon taking a girl, you may begin to suspect that you are about to slip into a few hundred pages of cliches .
In Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, you can feel at times that this is the case. Novik draws on Eastern European mythology for the framework of this story, and this was helped by the narration on the audio book by Julia Emelin’s accent. Given how many tropes are floating through the book – village girl plucked from mundane life, powerful wizards, an ancient evil that must be defeated – it is very easy to see where this book is going to go.
Don’t let this dissuade you though. By not having to spend as much time on the story, Novik is able to spend more time creating a unique world , which becomes very vivid. Given the story, there are milestones that are expected to be reached, and the reader is guided to each as the main character grows from the simple village girl to where she’s gotten to by the end of the novel. Along the way, characters are introduced and developed with the care that is required for you to really feel for them. This is where Novik is at her best. Despite feeling that this story is familiar, I found myself caring for these people, and any interruption to the audio presentation was seen as annoying .
Overall, for those who enjoy a rip snorting fantasy that’s light on the politics but has a coherent mythology, then this one’s for you. And it’s contained in a rarity for the genre – a single book.