Sarah's Stars

ZoŽ Marriott. Daughter of the Flames
Candlewick $20.00  ISBN 978-0-7636-3749-1  368 pg.
Reviewed by Lindsey, Age 15

"Attack!" Deo's voice, raised in the training bellow he used to drill his fighters. I was on my feet instantly.

Surya scrambled up beside me. "No. It can't be," she whispered. Her face had gone the color of ashes. "Not now. Not like this. Not like this!"

Another voice--I recognized as Rashna's--joined Deo's. "Get the children out! Get them back!"

ďFighting units!" Deo bawled. "Close the gates! We're under attack!"

Zira lives a life of hard training and peaceful ritual in the mountains where she trains to be a warrior priestess. But one day, her entire life is shattered as forces of the corrupt king discover the temple's secret location and ransack it, killing the only woman she ever thought of as a mother in the process. Now, broken and bedraggled, Zira must fight to protect her people and lead them to safety. But when the endearing Sorin reveals that her mother was really of royal blood and that the very man who is trying to kill her is actually her uncle, she must accept that her happiness and desires must be put aside for the good of the kingdom. So, she marries Sorin, to form an alliance between two nations that have never gotten along. But as the king's clever tricks keep getting the best of the couple and the path becomes fraught with danger, Zira must fight even harder to save herself, her people, and the man she grows to love.

Daughter of the Flames was a fast-paced thrill ride with the perfect balance of lyrical, tangible descriptions of the environment around Zira and her innocent, fresh romance with the charming (and slightly incorrigible) Sorin. The drama of the first few pages sets the reader up for a wild ride full of strong, capable characters. Zira is the typical heroine; she's tough and agile and wild. She reminded me a lot of Tamora Pierce's heroines or Katsa from Kristin Cashore's Graceling. At times the story veers into a completely predictable direction, which may have hindered my enjoyment of the novel but the lush atmosphere and the entertaining dialogue helped redeem the story. Along with the intense action scenes, one thing I really enjoyed about the book was the detailed and complex religion that portrayed God as a gentle and compassionate, yet frightening Holy Mother. With a perfect mix of fight scenes, magic and a love story that wasn't totally cheesy, Daughter of the Flames is an excellent read for fantasy lovers ages 12 and up.

I give ZoŽ Marriott's Daughter of the Flames four stars.

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