Kristen Ciccarelli hails from Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula where she grew up on her grandfather’s grape farm. She spent her childhood running wild with her cousins, adventuring in the woods, building forts in the barn, and obsessing over books, dragons, and girls wielding really cool weapons.
2017’s The Last Namsara is Kristen Ciccarelli’s debut novel.
Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, hunts dragons. She has devoted her life to this quest, to the point that dragons have become an endangered species.
Her father the king has one final task for Asha. Kill Kozu, the First Dragon. One last death and the king’s rule will be secure against any revival of the old faith (and its dragons).
Asha has a reason other than duty to her father to kill Kozu. If she succeeds, her father may gain enough political clout to cancel the proposed marriage between Asha and Jarek, an ambitious commandant. Ashe hates the fellow … and she suspects him of planning to usurp the throne.
Poor Kozu! It seems he is doomed.
Fate has other plans for Asha and Kozu.
Asha finds herself helping one of Jarek’s slaves escape. Asha has never questioned the rigid rules of her hierarchal society, but this slave knows a secret Asha desperately wants to keep concealed. Consequences ensue.
Moreover, the old faith is not so close to dead as the king hopes. The ancient powers that once governed Firgaard are real, and do not propose to be swept aside. The king plans to kill the last symbol of the old faith; the old faith is preparing a weapon of its own. It is a weapon against which the king, Jarek, and all their men will be powerless.
The weapon? Asha herself.
Asha is gullible; she has believed lies for years. It must be said in her defence that she has been very isolated. Unlike the protagonists of many other fantasy novels, Asha has had no beloved mentor figure who could guide her away from the dark side and towards the light. Her father would have tolerated no such mentor.
What Asha does have is a dependable friend and a new acquaintance, the escaped slave. A slave who reveals the grim truths of the society in which Asha lives. Oh yes, and she’s been noticed by occult powers, who know a useful tool when they see one. She is a shaped weapon that can be aimed at another target.
Experienced readers will see the direction the plot has to take if it is to avoid being Dragonriders of Pern meets Gone With the Wind. Heroic slave owners are no longer fashionable. However, the younger readers at whom the book is aimed won’t be as au courant with all the fantasy tropes. Asha’s painful learning experiences and her character development should be new and interesting to the target audience.