Author: Zoë Marriott
Publisher: Candlewick Press
In a temple hidden high in the mountains, fifteen-year-old orphaned Zira trains in martial arts to become a warrior priestess with the hopes that one day, she’ll be able to defend the faith of the Ruan people. But when she chooses to defend a man King Abheron has ordered to be murdered, she ignites a set of events that will alter everything she knows about life. Pissed off, King Abheron targets her home, destroying it and the only family she’s ever known. But in the midst of this chaos, Zira discovers that she isn’t just Zira, she’s actually Zahira, the last surviving member of the royal family that King Abheron murdered to gain his position. Now she must unite with a man who should be her enemy if she is to have any hope of freeing her country from this tyrannical leader.
Daughter of the Flames was quite a treat. It really had a little bit of everything: action, adventure, drama, political mystery, goddesses and the divine, romance—if you can name it, it was probably there. Marriott manages to balance all of these elements and create a fantasy that is not too overwhelming for the reader to understand. But what I really enjoyed about most about this book (aside from the awesome sparring scenes) was the complexity of its characters and their interactions. Though the romance in this novel starts out as more pragmatic than anything, it was nice to see that the friendship forged out of circumstance slowly blossomed into something heartfelt and true. Marriott does a wonderful job of layering each character with their own fears, wants, hopes, and dreams. Nobody is good. Nobody is evil. Everybody is just doing what they believe they have to do in order to set things right. Even King Abheron. It is very rare for me to find a book where I sympathize with the villain as much as I do the heroine, but I found myself wishing that he could be taken to a therapist and helped. Maybe if Dr. Phil existed in this world less people would have died. But it certainly made for an exciting read!