Kristen Ciccarelli’s debut fantasy explores an intricately woven world of deception, inner darkness, and dragons that fantasy fans won’t be able to resist. 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.
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What I Liked:
THE LAST NAMSARA has exceptional world building. From the detailed imagery to the ancient legends, this is a novel where you can sink into the setting and feel yourself among the characters. The dragons are particularly great, and I love the different ones we get to meet along the journey.
Asha’s character arc is extremely well done. I had trouble connecting with her character, but regardless, her characterization is full of depth, complexity, growth, and even healing. As she discovers the truth about dragons, the ancient legends, and even her own upbringing, you’ll be amazed at the emotional resonance Kristen Circcarelli captures.
What Left Me Wanting More:
While there is much to enjoy, I found it difficult to make a connection with the story and characters. The plot can be a bit slow going, and it wasn’t until about the second half or so that I was eager to keep turning the pages. Some areas left me with more confusion than answers, but as this is the first book in a series, more explanations might be found in the sequel.
Though I wasn’t able to connect with the story as much as I wanted, THE LAST NAMSARA is still an enjoyable adventure with admirable character growth and outstanding world building.
“Asha lured the dragon with a story.”
The story begins with Asha killing a dragon, she hunts dragons religiously to make up for a terrible mistake she made as a child that resulted in her city being destroyed. Asha is reviled by her people for her past and now must marry the much-loved commandant Jarek, to appease her city. However Asha is given a chance to gain her freedom, she must hunt down the First Dragon who burned her city and left half her body scarred and she will stop at nothing until she’s free.
"Once there was a girl who was drawn to wicked things. Things like forbidden, ancient stories. It didn’t matter that the old stories killed her mother. It didn’t matter that they’d killed many more before her. The girl let the old stories in. She let them eat away at her heart and turn her wicked. Her wickedness drew dragons. The same dragons that burned her ancestor’s homes and slaughtered their families. Poisonous, fire-breathing dragons. The girl didn’t care."
Asha is a fierce, determined and all round badass heroine. However what I loved about her most was her personal growth, at the beginning she’s completely flawed; she’s rude, arrogant, condescending, spoiled but the character arc is truly wonderful. As the book progresses Asha’s evolves as a character, everything that comes with being a pampered princess is completely broken down and she evolves fiercer than ever with sound morals and beliefs. She learns from her mistakes, she’s able to see how narrow-minded she was and actually grow as a person. I went from being really dubious of Asha to ultimately being her high-school cheerleader. ha!
“The old heroes were called Namsara after a beloved god, he said. So she would be called Iskari, after a deadly one.”
The story is told from Asha’s point of view in the present but there are a few chapters along the way that show you glimpses of the past such as Asha’s childhood, how she lured dragons and my favourite: the tales of Figaard’s myths and legends and of course the history of dragons. As Asha’s journey leads her far from palace life and deep into the woods, she uncovers devastating secrets that will change everything.
"No one could know the truth: after all these years of trying to right her wrongs, Asha was still as corrupt as ever. If you opened her up and looked inside, you'd find a core that matched her scarred exterior."
In addition to truly enchanting story telling, there was a slow-burn romance that you can’t help but get on board with. Torwin is the slave of Jarek, Asha’s devious furture-husband. Torwin was such an interesting character and I’m looking forward to learning more about him in book two, his story and history is one I can’t wait to explore. So clearly this romance is completely forbidden, Torwin will literally lose his head, which only makes me ship it all the more; I’m such a sucker for forbidden romances. However the slow-burn route Ciccarelli took was utterly brilliant and addictive in its small doses. Both characters had chemistry, there was suspense and I love how Torwin actually challenged Asha so she would finally open her eyes.
"The dragon came, slithering out of the red-gold silt like the treacherous thing it was. Sand cascaded down its body, shimmering like water...while it's slitted gaze fixed on the girl who summoned it. The girl who'd tricked it with stories."
The Last Namsara is a stunning debut to a fantastic fantasy series. It’s fast-paced, action packed, filled with a diverse cast, dangerous legends and of course dragons! There’s political intrigue, a hidden rebellion and a consuming romance that will keep readers on the edge of their seat and reading long into the night. Fans of An Ember in the Ashes, Seven Realms and the Shattered Realms series with devour this.
Asha was the only daughter of the king, the youngest child, and had been declared the Iskari, a title that made people fear her and a way for her to atone for the destruction she caused as a child. She was the kingdom’s dragon slayer and each dragon she killed was one step closer to making up for breaking the law she had when she was younger. The Asha at the beginning of the book was so different from the Asha by the end. There was so much character development that it will be interesting to see where the character goes in the sequel. She was very protective of the people she cared about, though she counted few among that group, and I loved seeing her open up to knowing more people and questioning the laws and her beliefs as the story went on.
There were a few main dynamics in the book. The most prominent was the one between Asha and Torwin, a slave belonging to Asha’s betrothed. Torwin challenged her to think for herself and was a great partner through the book. Secondary was the dynamic between Asha and Jarek, the jerk she was supposed to marry and I loved seeing Asha finding ways to show her independence even as Jarek tried to control her. There was also great dynamics between Asha and her cousin Safire, and Asha and her older brother. They both showed glimpses that they were not exactly who Asha thought they were so I’m excited to see more of that developing.
I loved all the old stories that broke up a lot of the chapters. It was a great way to show some backstory and historical content without feeling like an info dump. It was reading folk lore for this kingdom and learning why the people had their beliefs. The book started off a little slow but not in a bad way. The pace picked up the more Asha found herself outside the walls of the kingdom, hunting, and by the end, I had to finish the book even though I should have been asleep hours before. It really was a book I just couldn’t put down.