I read most of this book listening to Ludovico Enaudi. This made it so much better. Anything that he composes completely melts in my ears. If you like listening to music while reading, I recommend you listen to him.
Naomi Novik's writing pays a lot of attention to details and draws many parallels between different characters or times.
Although in the beginning it seemed a little boring and slow to me, that changed very quickly after maybe fifty or sixty pages and became very gripping until the very end.
I have to salient the detailed descriptions of the magic elements in the story and around the characters, as well as the gradual telling of the background history of this world.
The construction, and elaboration of all the ways in which this magical system can branch to, was very well done and never seemed too exaggerated.
The magic system is beautiful and not so simple as to cast some spells and it's done.
There is depth and flexibility in the building of how magic works amongst its users, and its limitations and even myths about it within the story.
I thought it was very complete and complex and intricate enough to make it interesting. I especially love the summonings, they are truly beautifully written.
I do think that the development of magical abilities is a little rushed, it feels like entire jumps in some occasions, but the writing makes it quite believable.
These jumps were also noticeable when it came to ideas to fight or resolve some of the conflicts in the story.
I felt that all of the characters had substance and unique personalities, instead of being mere copies of each other with slight differences.
Even secondary characters that are not very prominent in the story have stories and personalities that are congruent with their background.
The main characters got so much development, either regarding real character traits or perceptions of them by the other characters.
And this was rarely expressed overtly, but very intelligently demonstrated through small details of narration and actions.
More than this, Novik's story telling is quite believable because she does not reserve all the "work" for the main character, having several characters work collectively in whichever endeavour they are undertaking.
The Dragon is an eccentric and I quite like that. He is really smart, but also to f-ing proud to admit is mistakes which I find very interesting.
His character is built much more subtly and gradually to us and to the remaining characters, which is something that I really enjoy because I love details and things being transmitted to the reader covertly.
I have to talk about one character in more detail because I absolutely adore her and it is Kasia. She became a f-ing cool after her summoning.
A lot of her actions were a surprise, they were actions that in a lot of other stories would have been of the main character.
By the end, I imagined her as this badass warrior with impenetrable skin who was always ready to fight and put herself in front of the sword to protect others and how cool that is. She is a protector.
Chapter Ten is, without a drop of doubt, my favourite in the entire book.
I love the way all of the summonings are built, but this first one is, as the cover of my version of the book expresses, enchanting.
I griped the book and read beginning to end without even flinching. The way the one thing is carried out through the writing and the characters and the surroundings is absolutely brilliant.
How it starts with it not going so well, the magic in it being characterized almost as a living thing that needs to adapt to its users and how they eventually adapt to the magic and to each other to perform the summoning.
And after that first part focused on the chanting of the words and building of the summoning, there's a second part where we are explained the corruption in Kasia in such a human fashion.
I felt a very important message about people's deepest and shameful emotions like envy, jealousy and rage that can truly (without the help of a magical entity) bring out the worst in us,
the most corrupted parts of us, one could say. While doing all this, Naomi Novik also manages to maintain a sense of uncertainty regarding the fate of Kasia.
Of course, we all know she is going to make it, but at certain moments, being too deep within her writing and the story telling, I doubted that and enabling this experience in me was so amazing.
I really loved reading this chapter.
Finally, I completely fell for the relationship between the two girls, because it was beautiful to witness how they understood each other,
specially the bad emotions that naturally formed between the two and accepted it as part of how their lives were shaped by this event and entity since they were born.
Although I love the summonings, in some parts it felt as they were always the answer.
I really wanted an epic battle where all of the wizards, witches and soldiers worked collectively to create a battlefield where the actions of each one was complemented by the actions of the others, in synchrony.
I got some of what I was expecting near the end but it did not live up to the expectations that I built reading the book, but I blame that on my high expectations alone.
About the ending: It made sense and I consider it a good ending and explanation for the big questions, but it leaves a lot of other questions unanswered about the tree-people and how they came to be that way,
since when, where did they came from and all that. More than that I felt that the way it was explained and those final moments of the battle with the Woods were confusing.
Having said that, it was very sweet that Agnieszka was the last girl to go to the tower and the first one to stay in her village. That was cute.
It's not unlike many endings that I've read.
Somehow it always comes to this final story of people hurting other people for greed or power or whatever futile reason,
leaving behind a cycle of pain and violence and vengeance that is continued by the next generations through battles they fight without even truly understanding why the battle started in the first place.
Thank you so much for reading. If you liked this review, let me know. Much love!