Lexie's Reviews > Daughter of the Flames

Daughter of the Flames by Zoë Marriott
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Feb 21, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: first-in-series
Read from February 21 to 22, 2010

In some ways Daughter of the Flames was a much more enjoyable read than Marriott’s previous (unrelated) novel The Swan Kingdom. I identified more with Zira’s journey than I did with Alexandra’s and felt the plot was better laid out in Daughter than in Swan.

The day before Zira is to take her vows and become a full fledged warrior priest in service of the Fire Goddess, calamity strikes, and everything she knows and loves is ripped away with one shocking revelation–her entire life, her memories, and even her name, were a lie.  Why the memories were taken from her is almost inconsequential next to the changes those memories invoke in Zira. 
Suddenly she is making decisions that are heartless, but necessary.  Her old friends and teachers aren’t sure what to do and follow her reluctantly.  Zira herself is uncertain and doubtful about her decisions, internally waging a war with every action she makes, wondering if it was too much too soon and whether she was the best choice.

Like Swan, this novel is also split into several parts.  Part one is the set up before the attack.  We learn about the religion, the political atmosphere and about who Zira is.  It’s not quite appropriate to say that Zira is a pushover before the attack; she is brave and seeks to right wrongs even at the expense of her own life.  Used to ridicule and jeers because of the scar on her face, Zira isn’t comfortable in crowds or leaving the temple walls.  Several times Zira knows things, or figures things out, that are wholly outside her normal thinking, but a justified reason crops up to explain things.

Zira is given only the smallest of hints as to who she is before the attack begins and we are thrown into part two.  Part two is very much about Zira learning who she is and what the cost of her memories are.  Forced into a position where she has to find shelter for her people, she finds herself making hard decisions with little to no remorse.  And that terrifies her.  The Zira in part one would have leapt to defense of the child being smacked by the Sedorne guard–however the new Zira, who’s name is really Zahira, understands that sometimes the risks are just not justifiable.  She places her trust in a Sedorne lord she met previously, who owed her his life, and this in turn leads to even harder choices.

When is an enemy more of a friend than an enemy?  When should you stop being prejudiced and see someone for their actions, not their heritage?  It takes Zira the better half of the second part to understand how she would answer these questions.  Sorin Mesago is unlike any Sedorne she had ever met–he defies his people’s casual cruelty and treats Zira’s people, the Ruan, with dignity and respect.  Why he does this is never fully explained, however.  In fact Sorin’s initial appearance smacks of the “too good to be true” sort and made me wary to trust him myself.

I appreciated the solution that Sorin proposed to Zira, as a way to get rid of their mutual enemy King Abheron, and Zira’s response to it.  Sorin stated his case logically, and Zira argued her points just as maturely.  It was a major step for their relationship, and I felt it was handled well.  Also it made the most sense, even if it meant putting trust in someone she barely knew.

The third part is wholly devoted to two things: Zira’s acceptance of who she has become and the plot to get rid of King Abheron.  While I wasn’t surprised about Zira’s family connections, I was wholly shocked by Abheron’s backstory.  It’s the case of a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The King was “cursed” at birth, the priests saying he would be the death of everyone he loved, so his father set out to eliminate that threat by sequestering Abheron away from everyone.  This led to a man who had no true idea of what love meant or what great lengths people in love would go to for each other.  When confronted with love, he reacted the wrong way and caused the death of the one who loved.

My only real criticisms of the book are these:  Marriott glosses over a lot of character development in favor of adding a new layer to the book.  Ordinarily I would be fine with that, but character motivations are brought into question without the necessary development behind their actions. 
There is also the matter Zira’s memories–the Fire Goddess took Zira’s memories for a reason, to keep her safe, but why would the return of those memories lead to drastic changes in her personality?  She was five years old when the memories were taken, hardly enough time for her to develop the characteristics that occurred after Zira regained those lost years.

In the end the book did a better job of resolving the conflict and introducing new elements into it than Marriott’s last.  It did not, however, match those improvements with character development, and that ruined some of the enjoyment I had in reading.
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Reading Progress

02/21/2010 page 31
8.56% "My biggest wonder: does she look like Zuko from A:tLA do you think?"
02/26/2014 marked as: books-owned
02/26/2014 marked as: books-owned-read
02/01/2015 marked as: read
03/29/2016 marked as: books-owned-read
06/02/2016 marked as: read

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