In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.
These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.
Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm.
When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.
Read: August 2018
Rating: 5 stars out of 5, A++++
I’ve found some terrible books on the “Books Under $2.99” section of the NOOK store. (For an example, see my review of The Crown’s Game.) Kristen Ciccarelli’s The Last Namsara is definitely not one of them. I forked over my $1.99 and promptly started reading, and holy crap, I could not put it down. I’m going to try to stay as spoiler-free as possible because I really, really want you to read this book. (I’ll be posting a spoilers-included review soon.)
This book is blessed with wonderful characters and excellent character development. Characters experience not just external conflicts but internal conflicts as well. Racial and ethnic discrimination are underlying themes of the story: The skral are enslaved by the draksors, whom they once attempted to conquer, and tensions are high between the draksors and their distant relatives, the scrublanders. Asha and Dax’s cousin, Safire, is half-skral, and the cultural attitudes and social protocols pertaining to skral-draksor interaction hinder her relationship with Asha.
Ciccarelli presents the lore of her world in a graceful manner. She provides detail in moderation – not too little, not too much – and doles out information in manageable, unobtrusive quantities. Interspersed between Asha’s chapters are vignettes that allow the reader to glimpse mythologies and past events that not only flesh out Firgaard but also have significant bearing on the plot of the story.
The Last Namsara has a compelling plot, and its whirlwind pacing fits perfectly. Even the “downtime” is interesting. Despite the plot’s breakneck speed, Ciccarelli still gives readers the space to generate questions and formulate predictions before the big events/reveals. And oh, don’t get me started on the plot twists or the romance!
I was stunned by just how much I loved this book. As soon as I completed it, I promptly preordered its sequel, The Caged Queen. Both are completely worthy of their spots on my Favorites shelf. If dragons, wholesome relationships, and strong female characters are your thing, pick this book up now.
Cover is from BarnesandNoble.com.