Daughter of the flames
Zoë Marriott. Cataloging in Publication Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2009. p. cm. Annotations: After learning that she is the sole heir to the Ruan throne, orphaned Zira, trained in weaponry and martial arts as a warrior priestess, must unravel the secrets of her identity, decide her people's fate, and accept her feelings for a man who should be her enemy. Horn Book Guide: Fall 2009 Older Fiction Rating 4, Recommended, with minor flaws. Reviews: Debbie Carton (Booklist, Feb. 15, 2009 (Vol. 105, No. 12)) 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. Grades 7-11 Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2009 (Vol. 77, No. 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. 2009, Candlewick, 368p, $17.99. Category: Fantasy. Ages 13 up. © 2009 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved. Kate McDowell (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, May 2009 (Vol. 62, No. 9).) Childhood disfigurement by fire left a frightening scar on Zira’s face, yet the fifteen-year-old is in training as a warrior priestess to the Goddess of fire. Secretly, she is also the only surviving heir to the Ruan throne, a throne that her uncle has unjustly occupied since he burned her family’s home. When
Candlewick. Rating: 4: Recommended. Zoë. defined as grades 6 to 8. When her adopted mother. 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. Senior High. but the villain's motivation is utterly mystifying. Ages 11 to Adult. and with this discovery comes the responsibility to lead her people. 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. the only clue to her past is her badly scarred face. Category: Older Fiction. 1982 or 3Search for other reviews by:
. 1982/VOYA April 1983). 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. Junior High. is killed attempting to defend their mountain stronghold against an unanticipated attack by the forces of the tyrannical conquerer. Middle School. Zira discovers the truth about who she is. although his apparent readiness to transfer his affections to Zira is attractively creepy. (c) Copyright 2006. Zira’s still an engaging strong heroine. Fantasy. Although some characters are drawn a bit broadly (especially the whacked. 17. she is an orphan. Will appeal with pushing. Candlewick. Zira’s mother. and much of the appeal lies in the dramatic fight scenes and in a heroine who can best all the royal guard in hand-to-hand combat. though. Orphans Fiction. Zira makes a strategic decision to marry Sorin. She wears a scar on her face and a prickly defensiveness in her heart as she trains to be a warrior priestess. No. Horn Book (The Horn Book Guide. revealing that she is heir to a dispossessed kingdom and niece to its evil king. 368p. Subjects: Identity Fiction. it also bogs down a bit in revelations of the evil uncle’s bizarre romantic love for his own dead sister. Ages 12 to 14. with minor flaws. rescued from the fiery demise of her country's capitol city a decade earlier. 346pp.Additional book of acceptable quality for collections needing more material in the area. Link to a Web Feature or Search for Other Works by: Marriott. The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.99. defending the faith of her defeated Ruan people. The writing is inclined toward corniness. with lots of dramatic ellipses and plot turns resulting from the intervention of the Goddess rather than story logic. King Abheron. one of the few leaders with the power to resist her uncle’s rule. the high priestess of the Ruan. Fall 2009) As Zira trains to become a warrior priestess. Grades 7-12. Adult-marketed book recommended for Young A 2009. and the protection is reciprocated when Sorin’s near-fatal poisoning leaves him dependent on Zira’s strength to save the day. Hidden Dragon or other martial arts fantasy films may therefore appreciate this fiery heroine Review Code: Ad -. Ann Welton (VOYA. $17. Fans of Crouching Tiger.99. defined as grades 7 to 9. 342p. Their marriage of convenience quickly blossoms into a satisfying romance. and the build-up of the story equally well done.war breaks out in the kingdom. 2009. April 2009 (Vol. Zira is a strong heroine who deals with compelling problems. $17. defined as grades 10 to 12.. incestuous king). Candlewick.99. 32. The world building is excellent. Then an attack on her home reawakens her memories.. 2009. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P M J S A/YA (Readable without serious defects. this story is fast-paced and involving. 1)) As far as fifteen-year-old Zira knows.
Debbie Carton Kirkus Kate McDowell Horn Book Ann Welton