blog tour · Young Adult Reviews

Blog Tour: The Sky Weaver by Kristen Ciccarelli.

Review: The Sky Weaver by Kristen Ciccarelli.

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Extract:

‘There’s no need to be unkind.’ The Death Dancer’s mouth bent up at the sideas she moved towards Safire. ‘Now, what’s behind that scarf you don’t want me to see?’ Safire took a step back, but those quick fingers snagged her sandskarf. The girl tugged it free, revealing Safire’s face.

(The Sky Weaver by Kristen Ciccarelli. P. 65-66). 

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Synopsis:

Safire is now a soldier. She maintains the peace of Firaard – but there is one criminal she can’t catch. 

Eris, a pirate and known thief, is known as the Death Dancer. She has a reputation for evading capture made possible by her magical spindle, and the ability it gives her to vanish and reappear at will. She can evade everyone … except the pirate who holds her captive. 

Safire and Eris are thrown together when they are united by a common mission – to find Asha, the last Namsara. As they spend time together, they realise they may be bound by more than a common goal and that their fates may be inextricably entwined. 

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Review: 

The Last Namsara was one of the first major releases I was offered as a book blogger back in 2017. It is hard to imagine now that before it arrived I had little idea how phenomenally good it would turn out to be. Think dragons and fearless heroines and a story linked to its world’s mythology. Now the trilogy concludes with The Sky Weaver. 

The story is centered around two characters. Pirate Eris has a deadly reputation and a strange skill that enables her to vanish and reappear anywhere else at will. Safire, familiar to readers of the first book, is now a soldier and catching Eris becomes her own personal mission. Then the pair find themselves on a common mission – to find the last Namsara Asha. 

It is a classic enemies-to-lovers storyline which promises to be a great yarn from the beginning. The early chapters make it seem impossible that the pair could ever find anything in common, but that is what makes this trope so timeless. It tells the eternal truth that sometimes we can work together in spite of insurmountable differences and that in doing so we can find previously unimagined common ground. 

Both girls narrate. Seeing Safire as a protagonist will be a big draw for established fans of the series because she was the character who was both of the incredible court world and an outsider – or the relatable insider. It is also interesting, having seen her root for and protect Asha, to see Safire begin from a position of distrust and enmity.

As in previous books, a myth is built up alongside the main story. No spoilers – readers of the series will know that clues about the main story can be found in these myths – but this time the myth is about Crow and The Fisherman’s Daughter. 

Now that the trilogy is complete, I look forward to reading the three books together. The overlap of characters and plotlines between them is fascinating and confirms Ciccarelli as a strong and ambitious storyteller. 

 

The Sky Weaver was provided as part of a promotional blog tour. Opinions remain my own. Thanks to Gollancz for my copy.

Young Adult Reviews

The Old Stories Put Fire in the Dragons. The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

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Extract:

Dragon numbers had been dwindling for years and it was getting harder to bring their heads back to her father. It was why she’d turned to telling the old stories in secret. The old stories drew dragons the way jewels drew men. No dragon could resist one told aloud. 

But stories didn’t just lure dragons. They made them stronger. 

Hence, the fire. 

It went like this: where the old stories were spoken aloud, there were dragons; and where there were dragons, there was destruction and betrayal and burning. Especially burning. Asha knew this better than anyone. The proof was right there on her face. 

(The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli. P6.) breakbirdSynopsis:

Asha is a dragon slayer. She is also drawn to forbidden things, like the old stories told by her mother. The stories which lure dragons. As a child, Asha was blamed for an attack on the village by the dragon Kozu, an attack which killed many people. Her father protected her from the people’s hate by naming her the Iskari, the deadly one, after the old God.

Asha’s marriage to Jarek draws closer. Jarek, who sees his slaves as property. Jarek, who designs his future wife’s wedding dress so she cannot take it off herself. The King gives Asha an ultimatum. Kill Kozu, and the old ways will die. Kill Kozu, and the people will see it as an act of atonement. The marriage with Jarek will no longer be necessary.

With days until her marriage, Asha sets off on a mission to kill Kozu and end the old ways. The Old One has other plans for Asha.

breakbirdReview:

A story of self-belief and manipulation. I love the Last Namsara. The relationship between dragons and storytelling is a fantastic metaphor for the power we gain from listening to stories – how recognising our own truths in a story gives us power to speak up, and act against tyrants. Aside from that, the dragons are described so vividly, I can smell the smoke.

 If you enjoyed The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury, or Ink by Alice Broadway, you will love this. Alongside Asha’s story, we hear the old stories she whispers to the dragons. Stories which have been passed down the generations. These are not only great stories, they make the reader think about why stories are told in the first place.

I love the presence of dragons in the world, and their relationship with The Old One, the God-like figure who acts through his heroes, the Namsaras. Asha believes that, as the Iskari, she is the opposite of these Namsaras. Her contact with them – with the old world, and the old stories, makes her question what she knows about herself. I loved this concept. It was like Asha took herself inside a story, and came out a different person, which is the effect reading can have on a person.

My favourite relationship was between Asha and Jarek’s Slave. I will not tell you his name – he isn’t named until part way through the book, and this is part of the story. As the story progresses, Asha questions what she has always been taught about slaves being property, about the things slaves should and shouldn’t do. I love how this relationship changes Asha as a person, and gives her a wider perspective on the world.

The politics of the world changes with the course of the story. I hope there is a sequel, or more from this world. I would love to hear from these characters again, and to know where they go beyond the bounds of this story. I will certainly read more from Ciccarelli – this is a new favourite.

 

With thanks to Stevie Finegan and Gollancz for sending an advance copy. This does not affect the honesty of my review.

 

 

 

waiting on wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday – The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

namsaraSynopsis (From GoodReads):

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 dark—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 hearing 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 51ozm2tbpjl-_sx318_bo1204203200_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. 

 

breakbirdWhy I can’t wait to read The Last Namsara:

 

  • I am interested in the role the story of the Iskari plays within the story. I loved Ink by Alice Broadway and The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury. Both books looked at how folk stories come to life, and the reasons people attach significance to those stories.

 

  • This is about storytelling, and the role of stories. I love stories which have a message about storytelling under their surface, and I love the idea of the dragon which must be coaxed from the sand with words.

 

  • Enough said. I have loved dragons in stories since the first time I heard The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader at a very young age. My other favourite dragon is from Merlin. Deliciously voiced by John Hurt, dragon has been locked in the caverns beneath Camelot for too many centuries. Dragons represent different things in stories, but are often associated with fear, or the threat in the dark, or sometimes the darkness inside ourselves.

 

  • I loved the sampler. This was a real favourite of the samplers I was sent after YALC. It feels like proper fantasy, when YA often tends towards fantasy lite. I went through a major Robin Hobb devotion in my teens, when fantasy was largely dismissed as something a bit geeky. I’m always glad to see money being invested in well-written YA fantasy.

 

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

October 2017

Gollancz (UK)