Wednesday, June 24, 2009

DAUGHTER OF THE FLAMES by Zoë Marriott

Daughter of the Flames Daughter of the Flames
by Zoë Marriott

February 10th 2008 by Walker Books Ltd
Paperback, 268 pages
1406308617 (isbn13: 9781406308617)

rating: 4 of 5 stars


From Booklist

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. --Debbie Carton

I finished Daughter of the Flames with a smug sense of justification. When I read Marriott's debut novel, The Swan Kingdom, I predicted her second novel would be remarkable. And, indeed, Daughter of the Flames is an amazing leap from an author who has really stepped up her game. The writing moves quickly, the originality of the story stays fresh throughout, and, above all, Marriott's done some first-rate world-building. Addressing my biggest pet peeve, Marriott does especially well at creating two religions which must co-exist, and she keeps the theologies of these systems consistent. (Yay!!)

The weakness in Daughter of the Flames is in the almost ulterior motive Marriott has to validate Zira with a man. The third wave feminist in me wants to celebrate a male-female equally empowered relationship. And I'm all for romance. But Zira marries at Sorin's insistence for political and convenience reasons, in an act that seems remove the possibility of her own agency and choice. Then, Sorin fades, more or less, into suggesting that it's only his backing her that makes Zira powerful.

Still, this is a fantastic, fun, amazing story. Anyone who likes YA, fantasy, or both, should read this book, if not buy it. It would be a great gift for a female graduating high school or going off to college, or for Mr. I-finished-a-Manuscript.



Steph Su reviews Daughter of the Flames and interviews Zoë herself!!

6 comments:

  1. My daughter read this one and loved it! I started reading it too but never got to finish it because the library wants it back. I hope to get back to it someday.

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  2. Sounds really interesting, but I see a lot of fantasy cliches. Maybe I'll check it out anyway- hey, sometimes the cliches exist for a reason: they work.

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  3. Great review - I think this is a way under-hyped author.

    I have to admit that I did email Ms Marriott about the Sorin/Zira issue though because I agreed with you, and and I felt it let the story down. She did reply to me, very nicely, and she said that the main idea behind Sorin was to have a disabled hero who was powerful and important. Which is pretty darn rare, when you try and think of any others. I guess I focussed on the wrong issue.

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  4. I guess I'll have to go and read The Swan Kingdom. I like that you get fired up over issues like religion and sexism, and shows that you are really paying attention when you read. It also helps us get to know the book a little better than just the plot.

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  5. I read The Swan Kingdom and loved it and this one is on my bookshelf from the library. It looks really good.

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  6. I so love the cover of this one. I definitely want to read it but I'll keep your comments in mind when I do =)

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