Uprooted is big, sprawling, epic fantasy-type of book that really benefits from not being done as a trilogy the way so many in the genre tend to be. Not that it would take a lot to structure it as such, as a good chunk of the middle features major change in locale and secondary characters. But that would straightjacket the pacing, and draw things out needlessly.

There’s a lot of great things going on here, but I do think there’s a couple of places where it didn’t quite come together, though much of that was expecting revelations about the big bad and the main character that didn’t quite happen. There’s a few places where the first-person viewpoint gets in the way; notably, we get a lot of Agnieszka’s initial outrage at her prickly mentor, and while she later comes to better understand him, this isn’t really shown so much, and we just get her responding to him with a better idea of his actual meaning, so you have to be aware of that on your own to catch it.

People seem to talk about magic systems a lot in fantasy these days, and thankfully Uprooted avoids really tying things down on that route. At the same time it does a great job of providing the general feel of magic. Magic is definitely an inborn ability, and most mages work by rigidly worked-out formulae and spells, and usually have personalities to match. Agnieszka works on a completely different system that is very improvisational and organic in nature, which is shown to be something that has shown up in some very powerful witches in the past, but isn’t widely known or understood. I felt that this should have led into a deeper theme regarding the nature of the Wood, and the inhabitants of the valley, but despite being acknowledged, it didn’t actually get developed.

But these flaws are small and a matter of direction. For the rest, it’s a great book, with some very good action, and some truly varied action. Large parts of the book are unpredictable simply because it avoids doing the same thing twice when it can help it.