Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Review: Namsara - Kristen Ciccarelli

Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli, published by Gollancz on 5th October 2017

Goodreads synopsis:
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.

When I started 'The Last Namsara' I was a little bit worried that it was going to be too fantasy-driven for my tastes.  However, after the first few chapters I was completely drawn into the amazing world that Kristen Ciccarelli has created.  There's danger, dragons, romance and a whole cast of unforgettable characters that had me turning the pages faster and faster. 

The story tells the tale of Asha - a dragon slayer.  Marked by a dragon when she was just a child, Asha's whole life is about redemption.  After making a deal with her father the King, she sets out to track down and kill one particular dragon - but not everything is as it seems and Asha begins to uncover a web of lies, along the way to some truly startling revelations. 

I thoroughly enjoyed all the mini stories that were interwoven throughout the book.  They were fascinating and linked with certain things that were happening in the plot, adding a level of depth and richness to the storytelling.

One of my favourite parts of the story was the romance which develops between Asha and one of the slaves.  There is a lot of focus in the book on the divide between the people of the city and their slaves.  The treatment of the latter is often cruel and degrading and they do not have any rights at all.  A relationship with a slave is forbidden, so Asha takes some huge risks when her feelings begin to develop for one particular slave.  Asha is an incredible character and she really drove the story along and kept me riveted throughout.  I enjoyed seeing her personal development and the way that she gradually becomes more enlightened as she uncovers secrets and truths which have been kept from her for far too long. 

'The Last Namsara' is an amazing YA fantasy which will captivate and entrance readers.  The first in a new series, I'm very intrigued to find out what will happen to Asha next.      

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