Title: The Last Namsara
Author: Kristen Ciccarelli
Publication Date: October 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
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.
The Last Namsara was everything I wished it'd be and even more! It exceeded my expectations by far and I couldn't have been more glad for picking it up. I mean seriously, where have you been all my life? Dragons are by far my favorite mythological creatures and if I could've been anything, in this world or another, I'd be a dragon rider. That's right folks!
Moving on to the actual review, let's start by discussing the endless reasons why I loved this book. First of all, the writing was beautiful and I was hooked from the very first chapter. The addition of the stories throughout the novel just made the experience of reading it even more magical and interesting. They added so much more to the story itself and filled the gaps that might've remained empty otherwise. They fit in perfectly with the rest of the plot and I found them extremely interesting to read!
Moving on to the main character, who was such an unlikely hero I couldn't help but connect with her from the very beginning. Asha was so relatable in a way you wouldn't even think of while going into this. She's forced into this life she never consciously chose and her path is mapped out before her, just like that. She doesn't have a say in the matter and she certainly can do nothing to prevent things from taking their designated course. I mean, haven't we all at one point or another, succumbed into this suffocating conformity society kept shoving down our throats, just to shape us into everything that's considered ideal and keep us away from everything that isn't? The answer is yes, of course! That's precisely what happens with Asha and it's been made clear from the very first paragraphs of this book. She has to follow the King's orders out of this supposed sense of duty and in order to right the wrongs of her past. A choice she made when she was just eight years old which wasn't even hers to begin with, is the reason why she becomes this feared monster people look away from in disgust, fear and contempt. Not necessarily in that order. She even learns see herself as this terrifying being who's only capable of destruction, so much do that she doesn't recognise how much some people care for and love her!
She lives in this bubble of self hatred that she doesn't want to part with because it's what she's known her whole life. and because we have a habit of sticking with what's familiar because it's safer than taking risks and saving the world in the process. Which is what she ends up doing, by growing into who she was meant to be from the very beginning and breaking the hold others had on her without her consent. She recognizes both her flaws and flaws, which made her even more likable in my eyes and does everything in her power to change her destiny and take a hold of her own future. She strays from the path others chose for her and risks everything to make life better for those whose pasts were affected by her senseless actions. Even if she'd been aware of it or not! Which is so much more important than doing the right thing from the beginning.
Torwin was the perfect match for Asha and their chemistry was undeniable. Their slow burning romance kept me on edge throughout the book and I immensely appreciated that it didn't overshadow everything else that was simultaneously going on in the story. His wild side perfectly balanced out hers and he was the only person who could ground her when she needed it most. Their back and forth basically gave me life and I felt like Torwin helped Asha develop so much as a character! They found strength in each other and grew so much as the story went on. Torwin saw the best in her and looked past the scars and imperfections that defined her in the eyes of everyone else. Which is an admirable trait that you don't come across very often nowadays. Both in books and real life that is.
Both the main characters, the secondary characters and the villains of this story we're so well crafted and written that, I couldn't help but admire what each and every one of them offered to the plot itself and how it progressed. I was quite impressed with how three dimensional they slowly became and how much I ended up caring for every single one of them. By the time I finished reading the book, I was literally a train wreck of emotions. The cruelty of the King and Jarek really pushed my buttons many times and how they manipulated situations to fit their cunning natures was beyond me. Their cruelty frustrated and angered me with it's intensity but, I wouldn't have had it any other way.
The writing itself was beautiful and managed to transport me effortlessly in the world Kristen Ciccarrely introduced me to from the very first pages of this novel. The vividness of it took my breath away and I was mind blown by all the plot twists and unexpected turns that made up the majority of the novel. It was such a breath of fresh hair and I was at the edge of my seat, holding my breath and desperately waiting for that life changing climax. It was simply perfect.
Going back to what I said about the romance not overshadowing everything else, which occurs note often than not in any Genre you can possibly think of. I couldn't have been more grateful that the author didn't fall into that category and stayed as far away from it as possible. So many things were happening at the same time but, I was not at all overwhelmed by them and their complexity. The author handled the path she chose to follow with this story perfectly and managed to include many things in a book that seemed to be about so little. They made perfect sense and the story became even more suspenseful and engaging because of how well thought out and executed they were.
Every single scene was packed with action and I couldn't get enough of it. I was turning the pages like a madman in order to reach the end and see what would happen but, at the same time, kept wishing that more pages would miraculously appear so that it'd never end. The political intrigue was crafted perfectly and made the story even more interesting than it had initially been. I immensely enjoyed those unexpected twists and turns I've already talked about and you wouldn't believe them, even if I wrote them down for you one by one and in great detail.
Overall, I cannot recommend the Last Namsara enough! It's so much more than just a simple story about a girl who kills dragons to redeem herself and the boy who gets in her way. It's a story about loss, acceptance, sacrifice and loyalty. And it kept amazing me with its beautifully written story line, slow burning and forbidden romance, fascinating and wonderfully written characters, intriguing political aspects that we're so intriguing in their complexity and the power of breaking the chains and taking charge of a destiny that belongs to no one by ourselves!
Until the next post,