Over the course of her novel Nadia Lee takes readers to two very different worlds. At first, we are introduced to Ashera’s life set in present day as a mortal demon hunter who is skilled at using magic and weapons to hunt and if necessary destroy demons (particularly succubus). However, the bulk of The Last Slayer takes place in a different dimension where dragons of all different types and capabilities live under a medieval feudal system in places called dragonholds. An extremely powerful Dragonlord demigod presides over each dragonhold. There is an Arthurian good versus evil theme in The Last Slayer as there is a power struggle between the Dragonlords, which to put simply the holds are divided into two factions so we have a stark division between the good (Ashera and Ramiel’s side) against the bad guys.
Early in the story Ashera is sent on a job to supposedly rid a client of a dangerous succubus. The assignment turns out to be more challenging then expected when she finds herself battling a very nasty demon who tells her she has been marked. Ashera destroys the demon but is approached by another seductive, handsome very powerful being with a cryptic message and he then disappears. She doesn’t give the notion of being marked too much thought but later, when her life changes radically she learns what it entails. And, trust me it isn’t good when you are being pursued by a gigantic wyrm dragon who eats people and spits acid balls that burrow into one’s body.
Ashera turns 27 and due to a prophesy she knew nothing about she is forced to give up the life she has known and is thrust into the dragons medieval world. It is not all bad; her new life comes with an ally, Ramiel, the same handsome supernatural she met while on her earlier assignment. It turns out Ramiel is the Dragonlord of Besade, an extremely powerful, warrior demigod who commands a legion of dragons. Ramiel is part incubus, a major hottie for whom Ashera feels significant attraction. Ramiel has made a vow with regard to assisting Ashera achieve her destiny, and…he becomes her lover.
Lee has penned light eroticism into her story but there is far more to it than the love scenes crafted for Ashera and Ramiel. Sex (with a capital S) is like a magic booster so the essence created during copulation is actually gathered, bottled and sold like a drug. A supernatural’s power and healing abilities are enhanced while making love and certainly in the aftermath as they are able to absorb Sex in its purest form. The experience therefore goes beyond the rush of physical pleasure and emotional connection; it is a source of power, much like a battery recharge. Ashera and Ramiel’s relationship isn’t easy, her lover is a warrior, communicates poorly and keeps secrets.
Ashera always believed she was an orphan, she was kept in the dark regarding her heritage for protection. She is able to visit her mother who resides on another plane of existence and Ashera receives a powerful magical gift. Her reunion with her mother, Leh, was an emotional and enlightening point in Ashera’s transition to her new life. She has much to learn and understand.
There is a definite Japanese influence embedded in the plot, particularly with regard to weaponry, armor and battle tactics. I couldn’t help but think of the Samurai of old as I was reading The Last Slayer. This is a dark urban fantasy story, there are a number of bloody action and battle scenes, so be prepared for decapitations and gore. Readers can also expect humor, Ashera is witty and quick with sharp come backs.
I’m very impressed with the vivid descriptions in Lee’s narrative; she brought her creative alternate world to life. The final battle scene of the story is a depiction of clouds various forms of dragons in a military formation, flying, marching and burrowing to face an opposing army. I would describe Ashera as a reluctant heroine in some ways although she is very brave and wields her magical sword with might and confidence she does face a bone deep fear for the first time in her life. She learns to ride an amphitere, which is a very cool trained flying dragon (kind of like a flying war-horse). The Last Slayer is complex and Nadia Lee does a phenomenal amount of world building in the first book of what is to be a trilogy of stories.
I enjoyed The Last Slayer very much, my only niggle is that I would have liked to read some of the story from Ramiel’s POV. However an Epilogue does provide a POV switch and an intriguing lead in to the next story in the series.
Review originally posted at: Book Lovers Inc.