Uprooted was one of my favorite books of the last few years, and possibly ever. Since I’d never read Novik’s Temeraire books, I had no idea if it was a particular stroke of genius from her, or if she’s just always been consistently great and I never knew. I still haven’t read Temeraire, but now that she’s 2/2 for me with Spinning Silver, the imperative to do so becomes more pressing.
Here is the summary from Goodreads: “Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father’s inability to collect his debts has left his family on the edge of poverty–until Miryem takes matters into her own hands. Hardening her heart, the young woman sets out to claim what is owed and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold.
When an ill-advised boast draws the attention of the king of the Staryk–grim fey creatures who seem more ice than flesh–Miryem’s fate, and that of two kingdoms, will be forever altered. Set an impossible challenge by the nameless king, Miryem unwittingly spins a web that draws in a peasant girl, Wanda, and the unhappy daughter of a local lord who plots to wed his child to the dashing young tsar.
But Tsar Mirnatius is not what he seems. And the secret he hides threatens to consume the lands of humans and Staryk alike. Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and her two unlikely allies embark on a desperate quest that will take them to the limits of sacrifice, power, and love.”
I’ll be honest: I read this three months ago and my recall is poor. What sticks with me now is how, just like in Unrooted, Novik sets the scene and place with the most utterly immersive language. Reading this book, even at the height of summer, felt like being in and a part of winter. Equally wonderful were the three young women in this book, who each were fiercely loyal to the most important people in their lives, and each exhibited bravery in the choices they made, but who nonetheless were unquestionably different from each other in their problem-solving and approach to the major dilemmas posed. Although no two of them went about it the same way, they each had to weigh the morality and practicality of the decisions they made. The way their stories connected was inventive, and their individual strengths — particularly Miryam’s cleverness, Wanda’s calm determination, and Irina’s assertive resolve — were all the more emphasized by how other people doubted that they could be any of those things.
As I do with 99% of the books I read every year, I borrowed this from the library; however, I will almost certainly be purchasing it for keeps by the end of the year. So far, it’s the only book I’ve read in 2018 for which that’s likely to be the case.