At the Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) in London last Month, I was lucky to get my hands on an Advance Reading Copy of The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli.
This YA fantasy novel is due to be released in October 2017, so not too long to wait.
I was very impressed with this book. It’s like a breath of fresh air for YA fantasy. I’d never heard of the author before and probably would never have picked it up if I hadn’t have been given it at YALC.
The heart of the story and why everything happens, is set around the old customs of the city, the Namsara and the Iskari, the original companions of the ‘Old One.’ Namsara was the golden child, bringing laughter and love and Iskari was the bringer of death and destruction.
The story follows Asha, the Dragon King’s daughter who has been condemned to a life of dragon slaying and given the tile of the Iskari, after provoking the first original dragon after feeding him with old stories that are forbidden, as they are part of the old ways. The dragon sets her whole city ablaze and during the blaze, Asha’s face is injured, leaving her with a permanent scar. Her father constantly uses her injury to remind the rest of the town that the old ways and customs, including dragons, are wrong. This is how she becomes a dragon slayer. The story is told ten year’s later when Asha is 18.
Asha lures the dragons to slaughter by telling them the old tales, which they feed off. Her mother and many previous had died after telling the tales, growing weaker with each story. Somehow the tales don’t weaken Asha.
I especially loved that this book is interwoven with the old tales throughout, telling the story of the ‘Old One’ and how Asha’s descendants changed the customs of the land, capturing people from the other city, Skals, and making them slaves. With each tale my understanding grew of why Asha thought the way she did – hating the slaves and sharing the same opinions as her father.
The story focusses on Asha on a journey of her own discovery after she is visited by the first Namsara, as a revolution grows near. She grows feelings for one of the slaves, Torwin, who turned out to be my favourite character, along with the dragons, and steers Asha to learn that maybe her father’s ways are wrong. There were some lovely moments with the dragons, reminding me a bit of How to Train your Dragon, which is one of my favourite films.
I really did like this book as it’s not your stereotypical fae village with common magic and it seems to be set in some desert land, reminding me a bit of Aladdin. The magic is more historical and mythical, in the form of dragons and focussed around lesson learning. However, it bugged me a bit how the world building seems to lack detail and also the characters, making them hard to picture or make believable. I was really confused at first about the world and how to picture it but I soon got used to it.
If you are sick of fantasy books about Fae that are just full of romance and not much else, (although there is a love interest in this) I really recommend this book. It’s very unique and features dragons which is an instant win for me!