Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Wednesday #Review - The Last Namsara (Iskari #1) by Kristen Ciccarelli #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Iskari Series # 1
Format: E-Book, 432 pages
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Edelweiss/Publisher
Genre: Young Adult \ Fantasy \ Epic

The first installment in a debut YA fantasy trilogy about a girl who must hunt the dragon that destroyed her town and caused her own ostracism from society.

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.

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.

Kristen Ciccarelli's The Last Namsara is the first installment in the authors Iskari trilogy. Protagonist Asha lives in the land of Firgaard. Her father is the Dragon King, her brother Dax is his heir, but she is the dangerous and lethal dragon hunter who never returns without a kill to her credit. But, Asha isn't the beloved princess / dragon hunter that you would think. 8 years ago, she made a mistake that cost the lives of her township. A mistake that still determines how the people look and treat her. 

The same incident that left Asha disfigured from her forehead down her left side which in many ways, guides how she feels about herself. All thanks to incident involving a dragon called Kozu, the Old One. But, Asha also carries a heavy secret. She can lure dragons to her by telling the old stories which were supposed to be banned in her kingdom. Even though Asha has all the comforts of being a princess, she never really had the understanding of the slaves called skral who bow to her every needs. This leads Asha to meeting Elorma who ends up gifting Asha with 3 gifts. No spoilers.

One could say that these gifts end up changing Asha's fate and course in life. She goes from being someone who is better off alone, except for her cousin Safire, to being involved in something way bigger than she could have ever imagined. 
Asha is betrothed to the Firgaard's commandant Jarek who is a real charmer and piece of work. Asha is offered a deal by her father; all she has to do is hunt down and kill Kozu which will end the Old One's forever, and the wedding will be off.

Asha has 6 days to finish her job before she is forced into a unwanted marriage that will lead to Asha to be bound to Jarek forever. What's the catch? There's always a catch. In this case, the case is a boy named Torwin who is Jarek's slave. A boy who Asha finds herself being drawn to because he is unlike other skral/slaves that she's been around. I wouldn't presume to call this an insta-love by any stretch of the imagination. I would say that their relationship solidifies over the course of the story, especially after she and Torwin find mutual causes to align with. 

Iskari has all the classic fantasy elements that readers love, and expect. But, there are a few minor issues such as world building that I dare say is definitely necessary. My presumption is that this story is based on an Near Eastern Society, even though you could also have an argument for it being a Viking society. Dragons play a pivotal role in the story. They are not just arbitrary characters who show up and cause havoc and then leave. Nope. They have a definite connection to Asha, and Asha's future as well. 

They are also very intelligent and not just some stunt to lure readers into a lull. Old Stories are a curious part of this story as well. Stories that draw in dragons. Stories that make Asha believe that she is wicked and destructive because they killed her mother. But, there is a whole lot more. There are stories interwoven between chapters that help build up the story, and gives a history of what has happened up to this point.

Definitely recommended to all readers. 


  1. Ooh nice! I was keeping an eye on this one! It sounds like an intriguing read! Doesn't hurt that the author is touring to my city next week either! Lol! Great review!

  2. I'm glad you loved this book, but I had some issues with the pacing at the beginning of the book. I found it very exciting towards the end though! Great review!

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