Book Review: The Last Namsara

Title: The Last Namsara (Iskari #1)
Author: Kristen Ciccarelli
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy | Romance
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Source: Publisher
Format: eARC

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)

Wow. This book is something special. 
Plot: The Last Namsara was the perfect recipe for a fantasy book. It had an intriguing backstory, in-depth mythology, and complex characters who had difficult choices to make. The Last Namsara was told in the traditional three arcs in which the author revealed more and more information to keep the reader rapt with attention. I loved how everything played out and the subtle clues that Ciccarelli dropped. What made this book so intriguing as well were the snippets of the Old Stories that Ciccarelli wove throughout the action. These ancient stories helped reveal the motivations of some of the people and how their old traditions had warped with the changing times. While The Last Namsara is the start of a series, the author has indicated that the next two sequels will read more like companion novels. The next two books can be read as standalones from different character perspectives, so a bit like the Grave Mercy series. I'm both excited and sad about this, but there are some amazing characters in The Last Namsara that I was to learn more about, but at the same time, I want more Asha. 

Characters: Asha was the MC archetype that I absolutely adore: a young woman who was a bit rough around the edges and held people at a distance. She was scorned and feared by her father's people as the "Iskari" or "death bringer" and had been hunting dragons in hopes of atonement. While The Last Namsara was told from the third-person perspective, it followed Asha throughout the novel. I was instantly drawn to Asha and loved her emotional journey throughout the book. The romance also squeezed my heart and had me reading past my bedtime (waiting for the kissing to start of course).

Torwin was the slave of Asha's fiance and he stole the show almost immediately. The relationship between Torwin and Asha reminded me a lot of Kestrel and Arin from The Winner's Curse because their situations were similar and the danger was also the same. I loved the two of them together because they were polar opposites; Asha didn't believe that she was worthy of respect or love and Torwin broke my heart by the lengths he went to prove that Asha deserved love and happiness. They might be my OTP of 2017. 

Worldbuilding: A fantasy novel is only as strong as its backstory is, and it didn't take long for the author to make me fall in love with her world. She was able to stealthily include information about the traditions, alliances, and beliefs of the various people without overloading the reader. I cannot wait to dive back into this world and 2018 seems too far away. 

Short N Sweet: Last Namsara is the start of a new fantasy series that I can't get enough of already!

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