Review: The Last Namsara (Iskari #1) by Kristen Ciccarelli

Release Date: October 12th 2017

Published By: Gollancz

Goodreads: Add it to your reading list

Purchase: Booktopia     The Book Depository

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis: 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 dark—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 hearing 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.

ReviewThe Last Namsara had everything I could want in a YA fantasy: dragons, political agenda, mythology, oppression and a deadly heroine.

Oh, and did I mention dragons?

Who would not want this book?!

The Last Namsara is a story of Asha – the daughter of the king who is feared for her lethal destruction and admired for her dragon-slaying .She is the Iskari.

But she is also the girl who whispers forbidden tales and a princess who is trying to escape the shackles placed on her.

That is pretty much all I am going to tell you about the story. The rest is in the journey in the pages of this book, which I recommend you experience for yourself. (Did I mention dragons?).

Asha is our death-bringer, and protagonist of the story. And while I normally instantly love a deadly heroine, I must admit that I have a love/hate relationship with our Iskari. There were so many things I disliked about her, some of which were her fault and some not. She is entitled, pig-headed, naive, disrespectful, arrogant, obtuse (at times) – but while I hated all these things about her, this gave her so much room to grow. And what I totally respected in this story, was that any growth on Asha’s part was slow – not insta-chance of beliefs or morals or behaviour, which made it so much more realistic for me (enter the love part of the relationship).

Asha is a great example of a character who has been indoctrinated. She has been bought up her whole life with sets of beliefs and principals, and she has never once questioned those. And of course, I found this to be extremely frustrating as I did not like these beliefs and principals and other things I cannot understand how she didn’t question things or realise things for herself. However, this does provide an amazing opportunity for a character to grow. And while at times I did just want to smack her head against a wall, I did respect the fact that this provided a good foundation for her to grow naturally over the course of the whole story. I look forward to seeing her journey in future books as while there was without doubt some personal growth, she still has more to do.

Don’t get me wrong, she did have some good qualities as well. She was fierce, determined and had made peace with all the bad that the world had thrown at her in her short life. She is strong right from the very start, but I found her strength far more endearing once cracks started to show in the walls she had built around herself. I loved her journey and whilst I disliked much about her at the beginning, the fact that I liked her by the end showed that this story is well written and the character development is well done.

There were some great characters in this story… and some repulsive ones as well. I loved the contrast in the characters and their journeys, secrets, agenda’s etc. It kept the story interesting as well as making you question a lot of things along the way (another thing that Asha should have done from time to time).

I know that a lot of people are appealed to this book because of dragons (obviously, who wouldn’t be?) but please know that while dragons are featured in this story, they are not the story. This story is about Asha and her journey, and while she is a dragon-slay who goes on one massive story arc, the dragons are just a tool for her journey. I cannot wait to explore the dragons further, as there are certainly some things in the book that made me fall in love with them, and while this book used them as a tool for Asha, I hope to get more of they magic that was revealed about them in this book.

This story was both light and dark. Filled with action and growth, deception and love, mythology and destiny. And it had dragons :)

I absolutely loved this debut YA fantasy! The world-building was well developed, the writing was engaging, the story was paced well (some might find it slower due to it being fantasy) with the right amount of action. This book also contains old stories, which I found utterly captivating and beautifully written. I loved coming across these throughout the book as they added a lovely way to reveal some history along with some secrets and intrigue. I cannot wait to see where the sequel takes us. A solid world has been built with so many opportunities waiting!

 

 

Sidenote: Because I have spoke about this on social media I will add: I am still unsure about the cover. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this from Hachette Australia and I adore that cover. And while I find the final cover pretty, I think the ARC/placeholder cover was far more connected to the storyline of this book. But do not let that turn you off buying this wonderful book, as I highly recommend you do so!

 

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