So there’s this dragon who lives near an evil wood, and once every ten years, he chooses a girl from a local village to take into his castle. In return for protecting the people from the corruption of the Wood, they allow him to choose freely from their daughters. But this dragon doesn’t have claws or wings; he has magic. He’s the Dragon, a wizard, and the girl he takes isn’t seen or heard from for ten years, and when she leaves his employ, she is different. The girls never stay, and always leave.
Agnieska has grown up knowing that she might be one of the girls taken, but everyone knows the Dragon will take her best friend Kasia. But he doesn’t take beautiful, perfect Kasia, who has been prepared her whole life to be chosen by the Dragon. He takes Agnieska.
From there, the book is best experienced as a surprise. A wonderful, lush, enchanting surprise.
I’ve been meaning to read Naomi Novik for YEARS. The Temeraire books have been on my TBR since I first joined Goodreads, but I’ve just never gotten around to them. I’m kind of glad, because it means this book was my first experience with her writing, and now I will forever associate her with that rare kind of book joy you get when everything in a story hits all the sweet spots you have.
I could probably say more about the book, but I really think it’s one of those books best experienced as non-spoiled as possible. If you like fantasy, especially fantasy of the fairy-tale variety, with great characters and action and a beautiful, scary setting, you seriously need to read this book. Don’t even wait. Just do it.