The Last Namsara (Iskari #1) by Kristen Ciccarelli
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Book lovers will know that feeling you get when you read a very special book, that breathlessness as it leaves you just fulfilled and emotional and often a little heartbroken that it is over. It has been a little while since I've had a book that has touched me quite as much as The Last Namsara did.
I am such a lover of Fantasy as a genre and this book had it all for me, dragons, royal and political intrigue, people fighting for their right to rise and be free, romance and intense friendships. The blurb on the book hinted at what was inside but it couldn't even scratch the surface of the amazing story that would unfold within its pages.
The story of Asha, daughter of the dragon queen, she has always been known as the Iskari the King's dragon slayer. Since dragons turned against her people it has been her job to lure them and kill them. She uses the forbidden old stories that are outlawed to lure them and no one must find out that she still tells the old stories. She is betrothed to her father's commandant of his armies a cruel and vicious man who everyone lives in fear of, she has only days till her wedding and no sign of escape until her father tells her that the oldest dragon of all has returned and if she can kill him it will break the promise of betrothal and give her freedom from her fiance.
As Asha fights to gain her freedom she meets a slave boy who will change her world. He will help her to learn things about herself and her destiny she never thought possible. He will lead her into an uprising by the slave people and show her a world she never could have imagined.
This book truly gripped me from the outset. The characters are incredible. Asha is wonderful to read from the perspective of, she is fierce and loyal and at the start of the book very driven by the rules and status she follows in her home. Throughout though she takes all of the twists and turns that are thrown at her and grows so much and rises to meet those challenges in a strong, brave and intelligent manner. The book itself is full of amazing characters, some of which we get only small glimpses of in this novel but which I'm sure we are going to get to see much more of in the second book in this series The Caged Queen.
The format of this book really worked for me, you'd get a few chapters of the action of the story then it would break away to tell one of the old forbidden stories of Asha's people and through these we learn a huge amount about the history of the world and the political landscape and how we arrived at the current state of play. It helps to outline Asha's history and relatives and helps to build the world immensely for the reader. These were some of my favourite parts of the book.
This book has a setting which to me felt reminiscent of Arabian Nights. It was full of Eastern culture and references and I love that setting so it also helped me to fall in love with this book. The thing that got me most of all though was the dragons. Oh my, those dragons. They were incredible. I loved them so much. The way that they are used to help Asha's character to develop and grow and the way they communicated with her and became part of her story was beautiful to read. There is a bit at the end of the book that just rips your heart out and Kristen Ciccarelli leaves you weeping as a reader. It was beautiful.
I am so blown away by this book. It has built the world that we are clearly going to split wide open in Book 2, we have many players on the board we as readers are emotionally invested in and I am so excited so see where we go next. The twist on the ending of this book was one I didn't see coming and now we know Asha's future and that she still has much to do to fulfil her destiny means this is absolutely one of the must read sequels for me and this has just become my absolute favourite book of this year so far.