All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

on November 30, 2017

The Last Namsara (Iskari #1)
Kristen Ciccarelli
Gollancz (Hachette UK)
2017, 416p
Purchased personal copy

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

Destroyer. Death bringer. Dragon slayer. I am more weapon than girl.

Asha is a dragon-slayer. Reviled by the very people she’s sworn to protect, she kills to atone for the wicked deed she committed as a child – one that almost destroyed her city and left her with a terrible scar.

But protecting her father’s kingdom is a lonely destiny: no matter how many dragons she kills, people still think she’s wicked.

Even worse, to unite the fractured kingdom, she must marry Jarek, the cruel commandant. As the wedding approaches, Asha longs for freedom.

Just when it seems her fate is sealed, the king offers her a way out: her freedom in exchange for the head of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard. 

And the only person standing in her way is a defiant slave boy…..

This is another book that has had quite a buzz about it on the internets and I couldn’t resist the cover, which I really love. I knew nothing about it going in except dragons! I am currently interested in reading more books featuring dragons. There’s a dearth of dragon-related books in my life.

So. Overall, this is a familiar premise, in a way. Asha is the daughter of the king but she’s also feared and reviled by the general public having made some sort of mistake in her past that led to the almost razing of the kingdom and the deaths of people. In order to redeem herself she slays dragons, bringing their heads to the king. She’s betrothed to her father’s commandant, a cruel man whose patience is being tested as Asha ducks his advances. He wants the binding ceremony to happen soon but Asha’s father gives her an out – bring him the head of the biggest dragon, the one responsible for that incident in the past and he’ll dissolve the betrothal and grant her freedom.

But it’s never that easy, is it? Especially when Asha realises that perhaps what she’s been told about the dragons, about her father, about her mother about everything isn’t really as it seems. There’s a slave boy who challenges her beliefs, a potential revolution in the works and lots of other exciting stuff happening in this book. There’s also a lot of old mythology, stories that are woven into the present day through dreams, experiences and knowledge passed down. I found the concept of the stories, of telling the dragons stories, really quite interesting. And I loved the way the interactions with the dragons evolved as Asha came to a different sort of understanding. She’s given ‘challenges’ to accomplish and through these, her eyes begin to open at what sort of life she has been living and why.

There’s a romance in this but it’s a very slow burn. Technically Asha is a princess (although she doesn’t seem to be called one?) and she’s also betrothed but she has no regard for the man she is supposed to marry. There’s a lot of agendas going on and some underhanded dealing and lots of lying and double crossing. But Asha meets a slave boy who actually belongs to her betrothed which complicates things a lot, especially when Javek notices her interactions with him. I liked the slow burn because there’s so much going on here that romance didn’t really feel as though it should be the primary focus. Instead it simmers along underneath the surface, complicated by a lot of different factors. It worked for me and I liked Torwin and his straightforward manner. Asha could be hot and cold, very unpredictable at times and sometimes completely irrational. But she also goes through a lot in this book, her entire life as she knows it is basically blown off its axis and she has to adjust to so many new truths.

I didn’t know this was a series when I first started it although I probably should have. It’s really rare to find stand alone books in this genre these days – they’re almost always a trilogy or something. This isn’t a short book and it did drag a little for me in patches. Asha spends a huge amount of time sneaking around in and out of the kingdom and it seems as though the story repeats itself a couple of times without anything really happening as she tries to figure out how to escape her binding ceremony. It picked up a bit towards the end but ultimately it did feel padded out in places so I’m not sure how it’ll play out for me in multiple volumes. Also if I had one other nitpick it was the lack of subtlety to the characters. Characters like Javek were so evil they were sort of laughable and I couldn’t really take them seriously. He was like a caricature of a person. And then others were so good that they barely had a single fault.

So overall I did like this. It was a good read, kept me turning the pages although it felt unnecessarily long. But I did find a few issues with it and I’m unsure if it’ll hold my interest over future installments. For me the strength was in a lot of the stories/mythology connected to the past and the quests for Asha.

7/10

Book #189 of 2017


4 responses to “Review: The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

  1. Great Review !, you have clarified some doubts I had about the book, and in fact, I maybe give it an opportunity after all. I have to confess that the cover is beautiful 😍

  2. KasKrewe says:

    This is so amazingly written. Followed! 🙂
    I’m just starting out in poetry and blogging and it would be amazing if you could give my page a follow too!
    (if you like my stuff too of course!)

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