Friday, June 26, 2020

Book Sketch: The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

By: Kristen Ciccarelli
Published By: HarperTeen
Release Date: October 2, 2017
Series: Iskari (#1)
Pages: 421
Genre: Fantasy
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Bought
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: 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.

First Thought After Finishing: What a great debut!

Dragons are some of my favorite mythical creatures, so any time that there is a book about them, that book is automatically on my TBR! Admittedly, this book sat on my shelf for a bit before I read it, but it turned out to be great to binge-read the trilogy. Here there be dragons, but there is so much more.

Asha is the Iskari, the death bringer, but also the one keeping her people safe from dragons. After nearly dying in an attack by Kozu, the first dragon, Asha lets her scars serve as a constant reminder of what can happen to her and her people if she fails in her mission. But being the daughter of the king also comes at a price. She has an arranged engagement to a man she doesn’t love, and her actions and words are always under scrutiny. When Asha is offered a deal to break her engagement, she jumps at the chance. But that isn’t the only deal that Asha receives, and secret deals bring hidden stories to light. Soon, Asha has to choose between her duty and her heart.

I love mythology, and one of my favorite aspects of this book was reading stories and lore from the world interwoven with the present-day narrative. This brought another level to the story, and Asha’s love and knowledge of the folklore made her more likeable. These stories also give hope that dragons and humans can coexist rather than the current practice of slaying them to keep cities safe. Thank goodness for the old tales! I hope to see even more of them in future books.

In many respects, Asha was a formidable character. Physically strong and confident despite an early accident, she faces her fears on a daily basis to protect her home. As a royal, she had to follow certain rules, though she never quite felt passionate about them. Asha could have been embittered and entitled, the perfect protégé for her father. Instead, when a slave named Torwin showed her kindness and flouted the rules, risking his life, Asha’s worldview began to change. Together, they formed a terrific team, especially when you add her cousin Safire, who Asha protects at all costs. Asha’s other family members are more enigmatic, and I longed for multiple POVs to have the full picture. However, it was the feeling that something was not quite right that kept me turning pages.

This story has many familiar elements of fantasy, including an evolving knowledge for the reader of what is true, high-stakes battles, familial and political drama, shifting loyalties, and young love managing to bloom against all odds. If you are a fan of the genre, you will definitely find something to love in this book.

Most Memorable Aspect: The folklore and the dragons.

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