DAUGHTER OF THE FLAMES (Ruan #1)
by Zoë Marriott
PUBLISHER: Walker Books
RELEASE DATE: 3rd March 2008
FORMAT: Paperback, 362 pages
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult
What if your deadliest enemy was the only one who could save you? Inside an ancient temple in the mountains, fifteen-year-old Zira trains in the martial arts to become a warrior priestess who can defend the faith of the Ruan people. Bearing a scar on her face from the fire that killed her parents, the orphaned Zira is taught to distrust the occupying Sedornes. Terror strikes when the forces of the tyrannical Sedorne king destroy the only home she knows. To survive, Zira must unravel the secrets of her identity, decide her people’s fate — and accept her growing feelings for a man who should be her enemy. (Goodreads)
DAUGHTER OF THE FLAMES by Zoë Marriott is a fantasy novel that throws the reader straight into the conflict between the Sedornes and the Ruans, with the Ruans suffering under the reign of the Sedorne ruler.
Our book opens with a flashback to the demise of the previous rulers, the rei and his wife, who were burned alive in their home along with four of their five children. The youngest and only remaining child is Zahira, who is smuggled out of the palace by a nursemaid and taken to the temple of the namoa, who worship the goddess. Here the child is healed by the goddess’s flames, but her face still bears the hideous scars from the burns.
Her mentor, Surya, raises her and renames her Zira, making sure she is trained in the fighting arts at the temple. However, when Zira hits the age of sixteen it is time for the truth to be revealed to her, and the goddess restores her memories of who she really is, and who her real family was.
Discovering that she is the true heir releases a lot of inner turmoil for Zahira over her identity, and when the temple comes under attack from King Abheron she becomes more determined to take her rightful place as the reia of the kingdom. However, to do this she must seek the help of Sorin Mesgao, the Sedorne ruler of a nearby town who is supposed to be staging a rebellion against the king. But is he entirely trustworthy, and is Zahira right to fall for him?
Zahira was a strong female lead character in this fantasy novel, and it was easy to understand her conflicted feelings about her identity when she discovers the truth. It was also easy to read from her perspective, with the book being a real page turner. However, I did feel that her identity crisis was resolved awfully quickly and could have been explored a little more, as she does seem quick to accept her fate.
As for her love interest, Sorin, I didn’t feel like we got to learn much about his character, but he was a good match for Zahira and it was clear that he cared about her. There was a slight issue of almost-instantaneous love, as Zahira did seem to fall for him pretty quickly, but their relationship does develop more as the novel goes on, so this wasn’t as big an issue as it normally is for me.
Having outlined two fairly big issues with both of these characters you might wonder why I’ve still rated the book 4 stars, and the reason is simply the plot and the way the book is written. I loved Marriott’s writing style as it really pulled me in and the book was easy to read. I devoured it quickly, and loved the way the book was character-driven, as you could really root for Zahira and Sorin to succeed with their uprising.
Overall this fantasy world was very well-crafted, as the antagonism between the Sedorne and the Rua is built up gradually so the reader isn’t entirely submerged with facts at the beginning. I only had one other slight problem with part of the ending, which I felt was slightly less dramatic than it could have been, but apart from that I loved reading this book and would love to read more by Marriott in the future.
I really loved the fantasy world created by the author, as it really was the kind of world in which you could lose yourself, and it was crafted very well. The plotline was clever, despite being predictable at times, but I was a little disappointed with the ending.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
1. Daughter of the Flames
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