13 December 2017

Review #690: The Last Namsara (Iskari, #1) by Kristen Ciccarelli

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves”

----Abraham Lincoln

Kristen Ciccarelli, a Canadian author, has penned a delightful debut YA fantasy novel called, The Last Namsara that is the first book in a duology named, Iskari and this revolves around a king's daughter, who was born with the power to destroy and kill lives, who embarks on a quest to kill the first dragon of her land that took away her mother and left her scarred for life, in order to save herself from getting married to a cruel commandant as per her father's deal, and this is no easy task, when she is the one responsible for destroying and burning down her kingdom when she was a little girl by summoning the first dragon all by herself. And now it is time to pay for her sins.


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.

The Iskari, who can bring death, is also a princess of the land, Firgaard and is known by the name of Asha. True to her nature and bondage to being a deadly goddess, Asha has forever payed for her childhood sins, when she summoned the first dragon named, Kozu by telling him ancient and forbidden stories, that came and destroyed her kingdom, leaving her scarred for the rest of her life. Owning to her painful past and her mistakes, she has shut the window to her emotional heart, and hence to save herself from getting married to a brutal commandant as per her father's wishes, she embarks upon a path to kill Kozu all by herself. But surprisingly, her would-be-husband's slave, is turning out to be a thorn in her way, who is constantly challenging her to open up her heart to love and kindness. And little did Asha knew the conspiracy and the hidden truth behind her real nature and truest identity, can she save herself as well as her kingdom while restoring peace among various divisions of people?

Read a riveting YA fantasy after a very long time, and thankfully, I found this book in the November BooksNBeyond book box. Free of any tired tropes, this book has an extremely promising and a satisfying plot, that is bound to take the readers to unique places. Hats off to the author for using her brilliant imaginative skill to pen this fantastical story about a female teenager and deadly dragons (No its nothing like Dany and her baby dragons from the Game of Thrones ) each wanting to overpower one another in a mystical kingdom. Laced with ancient and alluring folklore in between the chapters, this book is perfect for any YA fantasy story fans.

The author's writing style is really articulate and eloquent enough to keep the readers hooked onto the story line till the very end. Also it is laced with enough depth and emotions to make the plot absolutely arresting and realistic enough for the young readers. The story has many elements and angles that make it look interesting enough for the readers. The narrative is engaging, alas, I found flaw there, since the characters don't have much voice all through-out the story. The pacing is really fast, as there are enough adrenaline rushing moments to keep the readers glued, and not to mention, the unforeseeable cliffhanger is definitely going to make the readers begging for the next book in the series right after reading this book.

The world-building is good, sadly some fatal flaws steal away the limelight from such an intricate world building done by the author. The world created by the author is apt and valid with full of logic, back story and reason, and is vividly beautiful enough to make the readers fall for a world filled with dragons, gods, folklore and slaves, that might anger some, as slaves in a society and their need and presence is shown as justified by the author, but, the author has given a heroic role to a slave who is a main character in the story.

The characters are poorly crafted from rough, except the main character, Asha, who despite of having flaws, will come across as someone very relatable and realistic in the eyes of the young readers. Sadly this story too follows the same old pattern of cheesy teenage romance between a princess and a slave, which will make some readers cringe over it, but others might find it cute. The secondary characters do not have any voice or lacks character development thoroughly and hence this is where the readers are going to lose their interest from the story. All through out the story line, I hoped to know more about Asha's closest friend and confidant as well as about her brother, sadly, I found them incomplete.

In a nutshell, this is a promising book that is going to rule the literary world of teenage fantasy for a while, after all, who doesn't love a good fantasy story about dragons and their fire.

Verdict: An enjoyable book.

Author Info:
Kristen Ciccarelli hails from Ontario's Niagara Peninsula where she grew up on her grandfather's grape farm. She's made her living as a baker, a bookseller, and a potter, but now writes books about bloodthirsty dragons, girls wielding really cool weapons, and the transformative power of stories.
Visit her here

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