Daughter of the Flames
by Zoë Marriott
For as long as she can remember, Zira has lived in the House of God, with the Noirin Surya, the head of the order, as a surrogate mother. Zira knows that her parents died when the Sedorne invaded Rua when Zira was a young child, but she doesn't remember anything before the House of God; it's the only home she's ever known, and she fully expects to take the oath to become a novice when she turns 16. Zira loves the martial arts, and she's quite good at them, so she hopes that when she takes the oath, she'll be assigned as a novice fighter.
But fate, or God (God is female), has other plans in store for her. Unknown to Zira, she is the only surviving member of the Rua royal family. (Don't worry, this isn't a spoiler - it's pretty much given away in the prologue). When she impulsively saves the life of a Sedorne noble - an enemy - it sets into motion a series of events that will force Zira to confront her identity and make difficult choices that will affect not only her own life, but that of her people as well.
I love female warrior characters, so when I saw that Daughter of the Flames had a warrior priestess as a main character, that, and the gorgeous cover, enticed me to read it. Daughter of the Flames is a solid, entertaining fantasy, although I felt that some of the story elements were not as well developed as the could have been. The first part of the book seems fairly standard fantasy fare, but as the story progresses, it moves beyond cliche into some interesting directions. I liked that what seems to be a logical plan, doesn't work out as anticipated, and both Rua and Sedorne don't always behave in expected ways.
I liked Zira as a character in the first and last parts of the book. The identity crisis in the middle of the book weakened her, and made her less interesting to me. It was an interesting conflict, but it also made it difficult to like or identify with her. As villains go, Abheron is a good one: believable and darn creepy, with just enough pathos that you feel sorry for him, even as you despise his actions.