Okay, happy Monday. I am on my way back from the other side of the country, so I have no idea of what time these will finally post. (I am setting them to auto post). Best of luck to you all. It is not yet the December, but I was craving to read about dragons.
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
The Last Namsara by Kirsten Cicarelli
Synopsis From The Book
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.
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
So, yes. I know that this is a book about dragons. Can you really expect me to be perfectly able to ban myself from all dragon books? That is a folly at best. They are my love. As such I am reading this for my NEWTS with an elated heart. I am so ready to read this book. The premise of dragon hunters is very different from that of dragon riders. I can’t wait to see how this book takes dragons and uses them.
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
This was a really good book. It works as a standalone, even if it is clear that there will be a sequel, it works on its own. For that alone, I am happy. I like having books that stand on their now, it gives me a bit of closure for reading, even if there will be continuation. This does mean, however, that if a trilogy book two will probably have a massive cliff hanger. Am I ready for it? Definitely not. Too bad I can’t decide these things.
Asha is a dragon hunter, and one of the best given the nickname Iskari. She has hunted dragons for eight years, since she almost died from the First Dragon Kozu. With her wedding in six days, Asha wants to think of nothing but killing dragons when she makes a mistake and is burned. Dragons do not breath fire, normally, for fire comes with power and dragons get power from the old stories. What Asha wants no one to know is that she told old stories to bring a hunt to her. Her cousin, Safire, keeps the secret of the burn and Asha is helped by a slave named Torwin.
Torwin does not fear her, and stares directly into her eyes despite being a slave and being forced not to. Asha’s father, the dragon King, gives Ahsa a proposition: kill Kozu and he will get rid of her wedding to the name name Jarek. Asha was betrothed to Jarek as a child, in order to redeem her sins. At the age of eight, Asha told old stories and called Kozu to her people, invoking his fury where he killed thousands. Taking his head will save her. When Asha passes out in a ball, due to her injury, Torwin catches her and is sentenced to beatings (slaves can’t touch her people). Dax, Asha’s brother, asks her to save him and so she does.
Asha tries to hunt Kozu and is spoken to by the Old One, who gives her gifts of sword, dragon, and fire resistant skin. All the while she is learning to care for Torwin, who shakes her heart with the way he watches her and looks at her as if she were a gift and beautiful. The days pass and Asha continues to fail her hunt. Jarek finds Torwin and sentences him to the pits to die, but Asha saves him. Dax claims her actions his, and saves her but Asha is forced to go with Jarek and to get Kozu. Before she can kill Kozu, he tells her the truth of the night eight years ago. Her father had caused her to be burned.
Asha is dragged back to the castle and placed to be married to Jarek, who her father wants to take over the throne instead of her brother. Asha is saved and taken to the rebellion that her brother has built of all types of people against his father. It is here that her brother weds a woman from the scrublands, and declares that he will take the throne. Torwin and Asha further their relationship a bit, and Asha realizes that her father killed her mother. Not only that, but her grandmother killed old story tellers.
Torwin is captured and Asha is forced to stay away. When her brother does not come back, she goes to her brother and Torwin. Torwin swears his faithful love to Asha, and Kozu comes to save Asha. Asha kills her father, and the rebels come and kill the other soldiers. Safire kills Jarek and Asha is taken into custody. Her brother becomes king, and she has to be killed (due to the regicide rule). Roa, Dax’s wife, announces to the world that Asha is the Namsara and sacred. She has convinced her people but not all. Before she can die, Asha is saved by Torwin (and Safire). The two flee and the Old One comes to Asha once more telling her that she will get a hika (soulmate): Torwin. It was always decided to be her fate to be Namsara, and they have a choice but she wants him. The two have to unite the lands, and together they just might.
What I Liked:
Skral vs Draksor; Race politics are always interesting to watch. I feel that seeing how people treat skral, and skral kin, was nice to see in the exposure way. I feel that this book handed slave revolts, slaves, and the absolute power of masters well. I want to see more of how these dynamics of races will be elaborated on in a world where the skral are no longer slaves. Also, can I note that I love what this story says about power? The draksor had the skral as slaves for 50 years, nothing more, and their society began to fall apart without the slaves. I think that this book had a very interesting thing to to say about greed and power, that people — when give the chance — will accept slavery. It’s a culture and it corrupts quickly, fully, and completely.
Iskari and Namsara; I really liked seeing the Namsara and Iskari dynamic, both in lore and in Asha. One can not destroy without creation. There is a certain balance to all life. Seeing a destroyer become the one to sew together the chaos is beautiful in terms of themes. Also the story in lore, says a lot about love. We get so much on Namsaras in the past and Iskari, that I want to see and learn more.
Old Stories and new; I really like when you have conflict of histories and belief systems. In this case we got old versus revised history. History is written by the victors, and the victors can spin it however they like. A part of me wonders if the skral were really invaders or if that were another story too. By erasing the Old Stories from culture, and making everyone fear them, we see scare tactics and propaganda at work. This book does it very well.
Dragons; Beautiful, perfect, I love them. They were animal, but were able to speak in stories to the mind. I also am probably biased.
Asha; She was complicated and I really liked that about her. Her having to come to terms with the world around her being drastically changed in a week, was interesting. I always wish these sorts of changes take more time but the way it was written made this week long change feel natural. She had life shattering revelation after revelation and for that a I accept her journey and change with open arms.
Torwin; He was pretty spunky and daring for being a slave and daring to look up. He just wanted Asha to finally see him, after all he could think of was her. He knew what he was when he had the dreams, when he heard the stories and he knew what she was. I want to learn more about him, to see him not having to be protected and hidden at every turn. I want to see him fighting with Asha.
King; I think that in part, his motives were out of bigotry, and out of fear. I am not sure exactly why he did the things he did, but I accept his evil because of what he did to our characters: Asha, her mother, Torwin. He was horrible, and for that I am grateful.
Jarek; He was equally as horrid as the king, but in his own younger way. I didn’t hate him but I can understand why I should.
Dax; He was strange actually. Charming, but considered weak. I know why, for his father hated that he was so accepting of everyone. He will be a good king.
Safire; She’s beautiful, mixed, and complicated. I adore her and hope to get more of her.
Relationship and hika; There is one reason I am totally okay with this soulmate bonding. Or rather two. One, Asha thinks it lust at first but is dragged into it kicking and screaming against her better wishes. She falls hard for Torwin, and I am okay with that because it isn’t immediate and I feel that in subsequent books it will be developed more. Two, Torwin has loved her for far, far longer, so really if there is insta love it comes from Asha but even then I don’t think so. She is drawn to him before she knows why and I really think it’ll come into play later.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
Cultures; I do wish we got more on skral, draksor, and scrubland culture. We get clothing, some things on balls and how draksor has slaves. However, outside of stories and how important they are, we do not get much else. I want to see more on the cultures of the land, how they are in their normal state. For later books this is a note — Even with slaves taken by those in our world, specifically here in America, the slaves may have had their culture beaten out of them, but it showed and changed into other forms. Music, of so many forms, developed from slaves. Music, dancing, and new cultures developed. I want to see the born free skral vs made free skral culture disparity. (I know that if this comes, it will come in later books). There is just so much here that the book can do on cultures, that I want to see. Perhaps this is asking for a bit much, but it will be nice.
Time Taken To Read
The old stories drew dragons the way jewels drew me. No dragon could resist one told aloud. – pg 6
“A fool can be anything; that doesn’t make her right.” – Torwin, pg 23
“When darkness falls, little sister, the Old One lights a flame.” – Dax, pg 254