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