The Last Namsara. Book Review

THE LAST NAMSARA by Kristen Ciccarelli
Gollancz, p/b, 432pp, £10.99
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins

Asha tricked a dragon. It is not the first time she had faced one in battle – she still bears the scars of that one from eight years before, and carries the lessons she learnt. She, more than any, knows what dragon fire feels like. But dragon fire does not just burn. It poisons too, and with Safire present and the dragon strengthened by a story told aloud, Asha has no choice but to face it again.

It is illegal for a slave to touch anyone without their master’s permission, let alone look a king’s daughter in the eye, but this slave’s master, Asha’s betrothed, is not present. As her eyes meet the Skral’s she wonders what it will take for him to keep her secret.

But Asha faces a bigger challenge than a defiant slave. She must seek out the dragon who gave her the scar, and kill it. Her father’s reputation, his kingdom, and her future depend on it.

The Last Namsara is the story of young Asha as she slowly begins to learn that there may be more to life than what she is told, and that her beliefs have not always been founded on the truth or on what is right. As a story this is incredibly readable, the key characters likeable, and Asha herself, particularly her strength and her open mindedness as she grows and makes her shocking discoveries, is an endearing YA role model.

Ancient stories and their relationship with the dragons is a central part of the narrative and Ciccarelli intersperses events in the current time with brief and beautiful tellings of these ancient stories, cleverly putting past events into context and revealing back story with an elegant ease, not to mention the wonder it does for the worldbuilding.