Princess Asha is known as the Iskari, named after a legendary warrior that inspired fear. She believes she is wicked after she draws a dangerous dragon to her kingdom and leaves the city devastated and herself badly burned. She will hunt and kill dragons for the king until the day she will be married to the ruthless Commandment, Jarek. However, the Dragon King offers her a chance of escape: she will not have to marry him if she brings back the head of the oldest and most fearsome dragon of all.
I enjoyed how this author accomplished being unique and offering a beautiful mythology and stories about dragons, while at the same time being a conservative storyteller. So many YA books seem to lean toward unresolved endings – or simply sad ones – and it was refreshing to me to see a stand alone with a feel good finish that still was a thrilling roller coaster. (I like happily ever afters. I know, I'm a child.)
I loved Asha's character. Her personality never wore on me and I liked seeing her come into conflict again and again with the image her father placed inside her of the kind of person she was – and overcoming that. Torwin was also well-developed, and it was great seeing the progression of how Asha came to value him as not only a person, but as an equal. My favorite character in the book might have been the golden child, Asha's brother. But as endearing as the prince was, he's just not mentioned near enough and I would have loved to see more of the character. His story about growing up in their enemy's kingdom and ultimately being taken hostage and imprisoned sounded really interesting...but we never get more. The character that the second book will be narrated by is hardly even mentioned at all and has no allure for me whatsoever as an MC. The minor characters in general were not handled with the greatest of expertise.
The world-building was more about history and stories than the present look and feel of the kingdom. I don't know much except that it is either Middle-Eastern or African-influenced. Can't determine. This I know: all of the area scenes made me shudder. It reminded me of Ancient Rome and it was terrifying.
Ultimately, I loved this story and was pleased with the ending. The dragons play a big part and were used beautifully throughout the plot. It was a fantasy world that worked, and I couldn't be happier with it.