The last Namsara
By Kristen Ciccarelli
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ .5
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.
Before I begin my review, I have to give a disclaimer, this novel does contain content that may disturb some readers. It is by no means the most graphic novel out there, but it does contain some scenes of violence against women and torture which might prove to be a trigger for some.
The last Namsara is a stunning novel that I would recommend to everyone, both young and old. It is a fast paced, high action book that will resonate deeply with people who have been bullied, abused or manipulated.
The novel deals with a very skewered version of right and wrong that permeates the entire book. Asha has been told her whole life that she is doomed to follow a path of darkness. She is her father’s weapon, used to eradicate the dragons and in turn, the old stories, which are thought to be the source of all evil. Asha is lead by her guilt to follow her fathers every order. Slowly, through her own actions and the actions of those around her, Asha learns how backwards her word truly is and along the way she learns what kindness truly feels like.
The main character Asha is like and yet so unlike any other YA protagonist. We have seen her story before, a young princess who wants to do everything within her power to escape an arranged marriage. However, the first thing I noticed about Asha, was that she is not stunningly beautiful with flawless skin and a shining personality. She is bruised, angry and outwardly hostile but the main thing that caught my eyes was that she is scared both mentally and physically. Her skin is covered in horrible burns that cover the majority of her body. Usually, in YA novels, the main protagonist is always outwardly and inwardly beautiful which was why I was so intrigued by Asha and her story.
Because of the YA genre, there is of course romance, but it is a very unconventional love story between Asha and a slave. Their love story holds a significant part is Asha’s evolution as a person, but it isn’t the main focus of the novel. At first, they cannot stand each other but slowly and I mean slowly they set aside their prejudices for one another and develop a thin trust that eventually blossoms into something stronger than love.
The novel is by no means perfect though, the supporting characters feel two dimensional. Safira and Dax don’t appear often at first, but their presence grows the further the story progressed, but I never felt like I got to know them. It felt like they were placed within the story to nudge it in a certain direction. Jarek was the same for me. He is an easily hated character but apart from being power hungry and possessive, there wasn’t much depth to his character.
But, overall, The last Namsara is a compelling and action-packed debut novel by Kristen Ciccarelli that I would recommend to anyone who loves dragons, magic and a maze of plot twists that will keep you guessing.