Reviews for Daughter of the Flames


Booklist Reviews 2009 February #2
Marriott s first novel (The Swan Kingdom, 2008) was inspired by a fairy tale; this second fantasy creates its own world with a complex history of civil war, racial struggles, and religious beliefs. Fifteen-year-old Zira, raised by the Ruan people, bears facial scars and buried memories of her true heritage--she is the hidden heir to the kingdom of Sedorne, ruled by her despotic uncle Abheron. Being half Ruan herself, she represents the possibility of a union between the indigenous Ruan and the occupying Sedorne. When Abheron sends his troops to destroy her home, Zira learns the truth about her identity and sees a glimmer of hope to overthrow Abheron through marriage with a Sedorne lord. Readers of Tamora Pierce will happily immerse themselves in a character not unlike Alanna: a headstrong, feisty teen who glories in physical combat and longs for (and finds) a true soul mate. Marriott s writing is smooth and compelling; lush descriptions are balanced with plenty of fast-paced battles. A satisfying read for fantasy lovers, with rich backstory, lavish costumes, and a happy ending. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2009 January #2
A tantalizing prologue settles into satisfactory adventure, dampened by excessive description. Marriott opens with a gripping middle-of-the-night crisis as burned refugees pour into an abbey-like temple. One refugee hides a child beneath her cloak--the only member of the king's family not killed when invaders set the royal castle ablaze. That child, first-person narrator Zira, grows up in the temple training as a warrior, but readers know her lofty fortune all along: Born as royalty (unbeknownst to her), she's destined to become queen. Zira befriends and marries a sympathetic lord who's Sedorne--the conquering race--as the text focuses heavily but somewhat ambiguously on both personal responsibility and fate. The characters' normative skin color is brown, the heroine interracial, God female; however, traditional power dynamics are less subverted than this setup implies, offering fertile ground for discussion. Unnecessary adverbs (people "scurried...hastily"), cluttered details and sometimes florid prose ("colors so pure that the eye could hardly perceive them") take the edge off this otherwise solid fantasy confirming birthrights and inevitability. (Fantasy. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2009 August

Gr 6-9--This tale of the last surviving heir to the Ruan throne fails to deliver an emotional punch amid all the flying kicks. Just before she turns 16, orphaned Zira narrowly escapes death when the temple in which she lives is razed by a tyrannical Sedorne usurper. By literally passing through the fire, she discovers her true identity as Zahira, a princess who everyone believed was dead. She immediately takes responsibility for leading the temple survivors to safety and forging a political and potentially romantic alliance with a sympathetic Sedorne Lord. Though the novel has some feisty fight scenes and a number of reliable fantasy themes--love between enemy rulers, evil kings who desire redemption, and rebel forces who arrive at the last moment--the characters' emotions aren't convincing. The most vividly realized details are found in the menus: pistachio pastries, sesame seed bread rings, sour black cherry jam. They suggest a Middle Eastern setting, but the fashion, weapons, rules, and religions are generic medieval European. The story poses some interesting leadership dilemmas and there's plenty of plot, but the narrator has a bad habit of telling readers what she's feeling rather than making them feel it.--Emily R. Brown, Providence Public Library, RI

[Page 110]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2009 April
As far as fifteen-year-old Zira knows, she is an orphan, rescued from the fiery demise of her country's capitol city a decade earlier. She wears a scar on her face and a prickly defensiveness in her heart as she trains to be a warrior priestess, defending the faith of her defeated Ruan people. When her adopted mother, the high priestess of the Ruan, is killed attempting to defend their mountain stronghold against an unanticipated attack by the forces of the tyrannical conquerer, King Abheron, Zira discovers the truth about who she is, and with this discovery comes the responsibility to lead her people. The trouble is that the only place she knows to lead them is to the stronghold of a man who should be her enemy--the king's cousin Sorin Although some characters are drawn a bit broadly (especially the whacked, incestuous king), this story is fast-paced and involving. The protagonist is believably drawn as a very young woman with disconcerting knowledge and too much responsibility cast on her in a precipitate manner--someone with whom teens can identify. The world building is excellent, and the build-up of the story equally well done. Girls looking for an affecting romance and a strong female character will find one here in feisty Zira--she stands up well to the standard set by Robin McKinley's Harry in The Blue Sword (Greenwillow, 1982/VOYA April 1983).--Ann Welton 3Q 3P M J S A/YA Copyright 2009 Voya Reviews.

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