Book Review: The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

Title: The Last Namsara
Author: Kristen Ciccarelli
Series: Iskari #1
Published: 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 416
From: Barnes and Noble
Rating: 8/10

So I finished this really interesting debut novel, The Last Namsara, by Kristen Ciccarelli last night right before midnight, and wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. This book was really crazy and fun and lush and imaginative!

Kristen Ciccarelli said she had been working on this novel since she was a teenager. But it doesn’t feel like a teenager wrote it. The book follows Asha, the warrior princess of the Dragon King in a fantasy land where religion rules. And there are two main deities that people form opinions around: Namsara, the good, and Iskari, the bad. Asha, because of her past that is mottled with death, is known as the Iskari, a term that describes her as a life-taker. She hunts dragons for her father, and is being forced into a union with an abusive man. But one night, Asha meets a former Namsara in her dreams, and she is bestowed a gift. From there, Asha’s world is turned upside down as she learns about herself, her past and that she is capable of more good than she ever thought possible.

Ciccarelli knows how to tell a story. The world building is wonderful. I could feel myself standing in the market in the afternoons, or smelling the citrus on the breeze as it blew past the fruit trees in the palace gardens. I pictured a lush world similar to something Middle Eastern or Moroccan, and that makes me want to travel to this fantasy land so much!

I also really liked the character of Asha. She was defined by the people around her, and that is how she began thinking of herself. But her development is so fluid. She begins to learn more about herself through the people she lets into her life, like Torwin and Safire and Dax, and soon she begins not needing another person’s opinion to form her own opinion of herself. And that is the best part of any book, I think, when your main character finally becomes one with himself or herself and accepts who he or she truly is. Ciccarelli did that so well here, and I loved it.

My only concern with this novel, and I know it isn’t much of a concern, but more of a personal preference, is I felt there were a lot of plot points in the book. I personally do not love a lot of plot points. Action, sure, I love the action. But when one thing happens, then another, then another, and so on and so forth, and these moments don’t seem quite as fleshed out as other aspects of a book, I am not as happy with what I’m reading. However, at the same time, I fully understand why these moments were in the book. I just wanted each thing to have more description, more background, more showing what was going on, and maybe making some of the other aspects of the plot a part of the next in the series.

Overall, though, this was a lovely read. I think Ciccarelli did a fantastic job with her debut, the first book in a trilogy of dragon novels. The second, The Caged Queen, and third, The Sky Weaver, are both very high on my TBR list!

The Last Namsara and the other books by Kristen Ciccarelli can be found in any book store or online. For another review of this book, check out Hit or Miss Books’ review here.

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