The Last Namsara – Spoiler-Free Review
The Last Namsara
by Kristen Ciccarelli
I hadn’t heard anything about The Last Namsara when I stumbled across the audiobook version. The cover was bad ass, the description sounded good, so I started listening.
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.
I’m no stranger to fantasy, but it’s been a little while since I read more of a classic, swords and dragons, kind of fantasy. I enjoyed fantasy books for a long time, and then they started to feel repetitive. Like there was some dude out there with a cookie cutter in the shape of a broadsword just pumping out tome after tome that involved a human, an elf, and a dwarf working together to blah, blah, blah. So jumping back into a more traditional fantasy felt like a tiny bit of a risk, but I can tell you that I was not disappointed.
The Last Namsara is very refreshing. Taking something old and making it feel new again. The characters, the world, and especially dragons—all familiar aspects—shown in a way that makes it all so unfamiliar. Fresh. New. Awesome.
Asha is a great main character right from the beginning. So sure in her life’s path due to what she’s been told her whole life, but soon enough we’re treated to a version of her that’s wonderfully conflicted over what’s right and what’s wrong.
Opposite her is Torwin. A slave. A great character, there’s no question about that. Though he’s a little too perfect at times. Picture that guy from the old spice commercials who does everything perfectly all at the same time. Now put him on a dragon. There you go.
The villains are great, too. Bad dudes that you genuinely want to see get their asses kicked! Though I often found myself questioning which dudes were the truly bad ones, and which ones would turn out to be misguided.
This is Ciccarelli’s debut, but the majority of it reads like it was written by a master of fiction. Each twist of the plot was planted well before the reveal. I felt like I should have seen each one coming, yet I never did. Even when I glimpsed the core of an upcoming twist, the way it twisted was still a surprise.
One of the few things that kept this from being a 5 out of 5 for me was the ending. Don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil anything. I’ll just say that I found it to be a bit soft. It was left open for a second book, but maybe it was left just a little too open for me. It was tough to find much closure there.
I did the audiobook version on this, and allow to just gush for a minute on the narration. I don’t like to throw around the ‘A-word’ too much, but Pearl Mackie was AM-AZ-ING! As a big Doctor Who fan, I’m biased, but still… If I could pick one voice to read every audiobook from now until the end of time, it would be Pearl Mackie. So great. I mean, who doesn’t love an English accent? And she was able to put so much emotion into her reading.
Whether you’re fantasy reader or not, I’d recommend you pick this one up.