The Last Namsara (Iskara #1)
By Kristen Ciccarelli
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Before you begin reading this book, you need to get some post its or notebook paper and a pencil and be prepared to take copious notes. And here’s why…
This world of Firgaard is freakin’ vast. There are the Skral which are the slave people, the Scublanders who are a neighboring group of people at war with the Draksors which is what our main character is. Now there are dragons and the person who can ride them called an Iskara and that exact opposite is a Namsara who are the ying to the Iskara’s yang. There’s a god and a priestess and commandant with his soldats (soldiers) and forbidden stories and tunnels and dreams and legends and dragon queens and dragon kings and OH MY GOD!!!! TOO MUCH! And all of this is explained within the first 200 pages. I still don’t know what the Rif is or what Darmoor is because I didn’t care anymore. I had to go back to find out who Elmore was and thank god I was reading on a Kindle so that I could easily find it but if you reading an ARC, good luck to you.
There’s nothing wrong with a vast world and I thought her world was interesting but she needs to find a way to distribute without overwhelming the reader. I strongly advise that you read this book within a couple of days because if you take several days between reading, you’ll forget everything you read. Now onto the meat of the review.
Meet Asha; she’s a dragon slayer. Get it Asha. Ash. Fire. Geez! When she was 10 she told forbidden stories that called upon a dragon, Kozu, who burned her and her town so now she’s a self proclaimed wicked woman. Um, that doesn’t make you wicked, that makes you 10 years old. I know she’s wicked because she TELLS us all the time but she doesn’t SHOW us. As far as I see, wicked means you are an awful person yet she’s not awful at all. She’s supposed to be a dragon slayer which would mean she’s intense and fierce yet, her lowly cousin fights better and her commandant fiance turns her into a puddle of nerves-NOW THAT’S FIERCE. Asha’s main flaw however is that she’s a dumbass who doesn’t ask any questions. Her brother looks to be dying much like her mother yet, she doesn’t ask him why. A dragon tells her a pretty incriminating story yet she doesn’t do any research. A slave seems to know much more than a slave should yet she doesn’t ask him why he knows so much. This same slave possesses something from a known enemy yet she doesn’t ask him why he has it. If she had have asked questions, the story would have ended thus we have what I like to call, the fatal flaw. A fatal flaw is when an author purposely leaves something obvious out that can be solved with a simple action that will ultimately end a story. So if Asha had have asked her brother a couple of simple questions, the book would have been over by page 200.
This book had a fairly basic plot-kill the dragon and you won’t have to marry the abusive commandant. Pretty simple until it gets convoluted with dreaming about old namsaras who make you complete tasks and I didn’t even know that Asha was trying to eradicate the old ways of the god until midway through. I couldn’t even remember what the old ways were. There’s so much story, you can’t focus on anything of relevance because it gets buried.
The supporting cast could have been developed better. The commandant, Jarek, was the villain and I believe a villain makes or breaks a book and he broke it. From the moment he’s on the page, he’s horrible but his motives are never explained or shown. Okay he was jealous of a slave but he saw his slave catch Asha before she fell one time and he gets extremely angry? Jarek was more shock value and less character development. If you want to read one of the best villains who happens to be a commandant, read An Ember in the Ashes by Tahir. Safire, the cousin, had a good backstory but she was basically used as a weak spot for Asha. Dax, the brother, tried to be a strong character but his weaknesses were told to the reader instead of shown so his development was lacking.
Now let’s talk about those dragons. Asha is basically the Danaerys of this book-the mother of dragons yet these dragons seemed to be the size of horses and not very threatening. I feel like a basic bow and arrow shouldn’t be able to pierce the hide of a dragon and bring it down. The dragons were pointless in this novel, they weren’t scary and Asha would be walking looking for a dragon and she would find one just laying around doing nothing.
One other thing that bothered me and I’m not sure if I missed it or what but no one was described physically. I know Asha had dark hair but was she fair skinned or olive skinned? Was she tall or short, thin or muscular? I have no idea and I’m assuming this was intentional but I couldn’t picture anyone and I don’t like that.
I can’t say too much because of spoilers but click here to read my spoiler rants.
Overall I think Ciccarelli had a good start considering she’s a debut and this is an epic story. Her world was interesting and full of potential but it was too big for her. I think she was too ambitious with her world which left no room for character development. The ending picked up but by then I was exhausted.