This novel follows the story of Asha, the fiercest and most feared dragon slayer in the kingdom of Firgaard who takes on the role as the next Iskari–the destroyers and death-bringers of this world. In contrast, legendary heroes are known as Namsaras. As the daughter of the king of Firgaard, Asha’s lonely destiny makes her feel more like a weapon than a human. As she conquers dragon after dragon, bringing its head to the king, no kill can free Asha from her imminent betrothal to the cruel and power-hungry commandant. When she’s offered a chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she uncovers hidden secrets about the ancient stories that are deemed fearful in her society. With the help of a slave boy from her betrothed’s household, Asha discovers the truths behind her Iskari bondage and the nature of the kingdom that she lives in.
Asha was an interesting main character. Conditioned to believe that she was a monster her whole life, due to being an Iskari, made her a pessimistic, yet fierce character. The author, Kristen Ciccarelli did a fantastic job of depicting dragon hunts, where the strongest aspects of Asha came through. I loved how the dragons in this novel had their own personalities and had the ability to communicate and share stories. As a character, it was obvious that Asha was used to guarding her thoughts and feelings, however, after rescuing a slave boy named Torwin, the reader was more privy to her more versatile, human emotions. Asha was a great, strong, female lead character and her skill with weaponry and boldness made her a captivating character. Though I didn’t love Asha as the main character, I believed that Ciccarelli wonderfully fleshed out Asha’s supporting character–her cousin Safire. Safire, Asha’s daring, kind, fearless, and weapons-savvy cousin was an intriguing character who showed considerable development throughout the story. I found myself enjoying aspects of the book that featured her, more than parts highlighting Asha and Torwin, the slave boy. The romance in this novel was very slow-burn, sweet, and heartrending as well, making it a wonderful aspect of the story. I also really liked the utilization of myths and stories throughout the book; it really made the world come alive to me, sparkling with the ancient truths of Frigaard’s past.
Despite the intricate and emotional language in this novel, the world-building wasn’t as detailed, captivating and clear as I had hoped it would be. First of all, the world in this book is made up of the kingdom of Firgaard, the scrublands (home to a society living across a large desert) and the Rif (a mountain range home to many dragons). Individuals are either scrubs (living in the scrublands), draksors (elite, royal individuals), or skral (slaves). Even though I liked the aspect of having different tribes and groups of people, I still didn’t understand the whole concept of draksor and skral blood. I had no idea if draksors had certain facial or bodily features and characteristics that set them apart from skral. I felt that the world itself was also lacking in details and personality. This book gave me an Arabian, North African vibe, and it would have been nice to see such elements better represented in the geography and names of the landscape. If these differences had been better defined, it would give the story and the world a lot more depth and make it more real to the reader.
To conclude, The Last Namsara, was an adventurous, pure, and exciting tale emphasizing the importance of discovering the truth about oneself and never hiding your identity. This fantasy novel would enrapture those who love dragons and dragon hunting, strong female protagonists, and action-and-adventure type novels. Ciccarelli’s smooth, graceful style adds to the perfect flow of the book. I would recommend this book to older young-adult readers, and to those who are fans of Kristin Cashore’s Graceling Trilogy or Marie Rutkoski’s Winner’s Trilogy, will definitely love the fantasy themes in this book. I give this book a 7.5 out of 10.