Author: Zoë Marriott.
Published: July 2012 by Walker Books.
Sort: Part #1. Ruan (second book is a companion novel)
Source: This book was gifted to me by Kristen.
What if your deadliest enemy were the only one who could save you?The swan kingdom. From that moment I knew I had to read more from her and the sweet Kristen gave this copy to me. Thanks to her I’m now aware that I really like Marriott’s stories and I’m going to hunt down a copy from the companion novel called Frostfire. You can download the first chapter for free if you like to try it out: Zoë Marriott.
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.
The world-building and concept of this book are pretty basic. Ruan is attacked by Sedorne and the Royal family is butchered, The Sedorne king is a tyrant and destroys everything, but he forgot that one person survived. Zira is rescued by her maid and taken to the covenant where Surya becomes her second mother. She is trained as a warrior and when she finds out who she truly is, Zira’s life changes forever. Together with the Sedornse lord Sorin, Zira is ready to free her people.
The thing that makes this story different is Zira. I loved this girl. She has fire and a passion in her that makes her indestructible. This could easily led to an I'm-far-too-perfect-character, but Zira has enough flaws to make her realistic. She has a soft side and finding out who she truly is makes her insecure. She questions herself a lot despite her warrior training. We get a girl whose life completely changed and we see how she adapts and grows through all her trials. She is capable of clever decisions even when she is frightened; she is even willing to sacrifice others, instead of throwing herself in a dangerous situation where she could be killed. It was so refreshing!
The romance might have been a little too fast, but Marriott manages to stay clear from the insta-love. I could see how the decision was necessary at that time, even when both of the characters were a little naive and too hopeful. Nevertheless, I really liked Sorin and how they both grew toward each other. What started as a strategic connection turns out into a loyal, respectful and balanced relationship.
I was surprised by the villain and his background story. It’s not like anything I’ve read in a while and I love how Marriot twisted him into someone you almost feel sorry for. I don’t agree with his life choices, but it seems he is a trouble person who makes very bad choices, instead of being a bad person. The ending is like I expected from this book. Everything is solved easily and is neatly wrapped-up. Just the way I like my endings most of the times. Definitely check it out!