published by Del rey
genre: Fantasy, YA,
Summary: “Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
My Thoughts: I kept passing over this one every time I saw it at the library. I finally decided at the end of the year to just grab it and give it a try. I'm glad I did. This is the first I've read from Naomi Novik and I enjoyed her writing.
I found the world and story unique and engaging. Once Agnieszka was "chosen" and taken to the tower I was hooked. While I didn't like all her crying at first, it seemed at odds with her character, when she finally got it together she became a strong character. The Dragon, while a nice contrast to Agnieszka, was kind of a flat character at times.
What made this story was the magic and the story of the Wood. The author did a great job showcasing the sharp contrasts between the Dragon's and Agnieszka's magic. This made the times that they joined their magic that much better.
Overall, I'm glad I took the time to read it. I cannot say that it's something I would read again which is why it's not a 5 rating but would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy of any sort.