I'm currently reading Daughter of the Flames by Zoe Marriott (well, whenever I have the chance). So far, Zira has kicked butt with a weapon, considered why she looks the way she looks, and bumped into a strong, manly figure in the enemy territory. And so far, I like it and so will anybody else who likes warrior/ancient rites/weapon wielding fantasy worlds that seem like historical fiction. But, it's not historical fiction since this is Marriott's own made up world. Calling all Lord of the Rings movie fans like me who don't actually want to read Lord of the Rings unless it was under 300 pages and more accessible. Ok, now don't expect some larger than life epic, but Daughter of the Flames includes a rivalry set in anciet times, a warrior priestess/princess, and insurmountable tasks without a 1500 page trilogy.
Inside an ancient temple in the mountains, fifteen-year-old Zira trains in the martial arts to become a warrior priestess who can defend the faith of the Ruan people. Bearing a scar on her face from the fire that killed her parents, the orphaned Zira is taught to distrust the occupying Sedornes. Terror strikes when the forces of the tyrannical Sedorne king destroy the only home she knows. To survive, Zira must unravel the secrets of her identity, decide her people’s fate — and accept her growing feelings for a man who should be her enemy.
CHAPTER ONE EXCERPT
I never knew my mother's name. I knew she was a hero. The first story Surya ever told me was of my mother and her death. How, gravely injured herself, she dragged me from the fire that consumed our home and carried me all the way from Aroha to the House of God in the mountains. How she refused any treatment for herself and died of her injuries, peacefully, only when she knew that I would live. But she never told anyone her name. Only mine. Zira. The story was all I had of my family. Surya said that after the Sedorne came, slaughtering and burning their way across Ruan, so many families were scattered, so many homes destroyed, so many people murdered and abandoned to rot by the roadside, there was no way to trace my identity. I was alone in the world from that day - the day my mother died to save me. I was lucky. Incredibly lucky. I always knew that. I could have been one of the poor orphan children dying of starvation or disease on the streets of Aroha. I could have been dead myself. Or I could have been living as a slave - in all but name - under some bloated Sedorne lord.
"How did you get that scar?" he asked quietly. I was surprised--especially after the stares I had been forced to endure this morning--to find taht I didn't resent the blunt question. There was no pity in it. I answered evenly, "In the fire that killed my family." "The Great Fire?" "If you mean the Invasion Fire, then yes, it was.
"Are you?" I met his eyes, expecting them to fall. He looked back steadily, and it was I who had to look away.