Tuesday 7 November 2017

THE LAST NAMSARA by Kristen Ciccarelli

Once there was a girl who was drawn to wicked things 

Asha is a dragon-slayer. Reviled by the very people she's sworn to protect, she kills to atone for the wicked deed she committed as a child - one that almost destroyed her city, and left her with a terrible scar. 

But protecting her father's kingdom is a lonely destiny: no matter how many dragons she kills, her people still think she's wicked. 

Even worse, to unite the fractured kingdom she must marry Jarek, the cruel commandant. As the wedding day approaches, Asha longs for freedom. 

Just when it seems her fate is sealed, the king offers her a way out: her freedom in exchange for the head of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard. 

And the only person standing in her way is a defiant slave boy...

I need to start by saying that both the ARC and the finished copies of this book are beautiful. The ARC has the dragon king's emblem on the cover and looks like a book packed with illicit myths. While the actual cover is gorgeous, shiny and so pretty!

Asha is a dragon slayer. She's the Iskari, the most feared person in Firgaard because of what she did years ago. She wears her scars as trophies to remind her of why she set on this rageful path in the first place. She's also the dragon king's daughter, and is betrothed to the powerful and cruel commandant. But she lives life by her own rules and that includes keeping her cousin (a half-blood) by her side, and running off to the Rif to lure dragons by telling them ancient stories before taking them down. 

Asha has killed a lot of dragons, but has always had her sights set on one. Kozu is the First Dragon. The one who keeps the old and forbidden stories alive. He's also the dragon who burned her body, and the only thing able to save her from a violent marriage.

When her brother Dax returns with enemies as guests, and Asha crosses paths with a fearless slave, her life changes forever. The kingdom is falling apart and everything she thought she knew about her father, her kingdom, dragons and even herself is at risk. And the only way to find out the truth is to face her greatest nemesis...

Wow! This book is outstanding.

This year I've tried reading several YA fantasy books and none of them have kept my attention. I DNFd most of them. But THIS one hooked me in from the beginning, and didn't let go until The End. I couldn't put it down! I grabbed it and read a bit more every spare moment I had. (Which is saying a lot because I'm doing NaNoWriMo atm. LOL)

The worldbuilding is exquisite. A world where one race has enslaved another, the dragon king charges his daughter with killing dragons, and the princess is scarred and feared/hated by everyone. Her past actions almost destroyed her kingdom and no one's forgiven her for that, but I loved how she kept her head up and didn't let this stop her ultimate mission.

Asha is tenacious and strong. She's always angry and devoted to her father because he valued her when no one else did. Her loyalty is one of her sharpest weapons, but it's used against her in the cruellest of ways. The secrets that are unveiled are shocking, even devastating. But one of the best things about this book is Asha's character growth. Experience and truth reveals what she couldn't see, and her strength and intelligence through everything is noble.

I also loved Torwin. He's another amazing and very patient character who helps shape a lot of the changes in Asha. He's kind, smart and caring. The perfect match to such a prickly heroine. Their connection is pure and beautiful, but also heartbreaking.

And the dragons! I can't forget about the DRAGONS. OMG. I love dragons so it was awesome to read a story where the use of stories and dragons is blended in a way that coils everything together. The clues were always in the stories. Shadow and Kozu are so very cool.

The Last Namsara turned out to be an amazing surprise. A fantasy story with action, dirty politics, lies, devastating secrets and a wonderful heroine. The dragon angle was intriguing, and intertwined brilliantly with old stories and myths. Everything about this book kept me turning the page, and got my heart pumping at every turn.

I LOVE this book SO MUCH! And can't wait to see what Asha, Torwin and Rozu get up to next... 

The Last Namsara, October 2017, ISBN 9781473218130, Gollancz

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