BOOK REVIEW: The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

By Kristen Ciccarelli
Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: 12th October 2017
Format: ARC (496 pages)

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. (Goodreads)

Books can come to your attentions at the most appropriate time. If you have been following me here or on Twitter, you will know that for the last few months I have hit a major reading slump. Nothing had been shaking me of this inability to sit down and just enjoy a book. Old favourites, whether genre or author, were just not clearing this haze.

So, I looked at my TBR pile and saw this proof peeking out from the pile. I decided to sit down and read a few chapters. 5 chapters quickly turned into 10. My eyes were gritty, the need to sleep so great, that with great reluctance I had to put it aside in order recharge my batteries. THAT is how good this book is.

There is no getting around the fact that this book does a lot of world building, but for me, it never felt like a slog. I quickly grasped what it was like to live in this world where magic and myth is abundant. The main focus of this book, Asha, the daughter of the king and the person who is held responsible for a devastating tragedy that happened years ago.

Since then, she has been trying to find redemption, not just with her father but with the subjects of the kingdom. The book opens just three days before she is to marry the cruel commander of her fathers army. Her father gives her a way to get out of this if she will bring back the head of the Dragon that almost destroyed the city.

This alone would be more than enough of a plotline for any fantasy book, but it soon becomes apparent that there is more than meets the eye. These other mysteries build up slowly and as Asha learns more about her past, you do to. The “facts” that Asha has been told about what happened when her mother died and the city all but fell, begin to unravel and I’ll admit, I had my suspicions about what really happened. While it turned out I was half right, I was still surprised about who was behind it and the reasons why.

Asha starts off as very much the Anti-Hero, but as the book progresses, you bear witness to the many layers to this character. She has been seen a certain way for most of her life that she has taken on this persona. Yet, when it comes to her cousin and her brother, you see the softer side to her. It is clear that she would do anything for them and at times it seems she feels responsible for them.

The only other person who is lucky enough to break into this circle is Torwin, the slave of her betrothed. For all intents and purposes, they should not be together, yet you see them grow closer as the book progresses. It is through Torwin that Asha begins to see through the lies that have been crafted around her. The forbidden attraction between the two never comes off cheesy and Asha realises that she is putting him in danger should her betrothed find out that she helped him escape.

There is a lot of myth and legend in this book, but you see how this is important to Asha’s story. I couldn’t help but get strong Game of Throne vibes from these tales, but that isn’t a bad thing and Ciccarelli really creates her own. She uses foreshadowing really well and even with the end of the book, there is still much to be explored.

Towards the end of the book, there is a big showdown between the two sides. Since this war, not everyone makes it out the other side and I do admit that I shed a few tears at the demise of a favourite character. Though the battle is won, it is clear that there are many more to come and Asha will need the help of all her allies. Now to wait for the next book to come out to see where the story will go.

The Last Namsara is a melting pot of Game of Thrones, How to Train Your Dragon and other fantasy books. The author has tried hard to create her own world and she has mostly achieved this.

This book is such an easy, entertaining read and I found myself almost instantly sucked into the plot. Plot points are revealed gradually and you are dragged along until it comes to the conclusion, where even then the author manages to pull out a few surprises. This has got to be one of my favourite books of the Summer.



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