16-year-old Zira’s dying Ruan mother brought a badly injured Zira to the temple after the fearsome attack that left Rua in the control of the Sedorne. Zira’s memories of her life before that night are gone, until the night ten years later when a Sedorne force, sent by the king, attacks and destroys the temple. As the temple people shelter in the Shrine of God, Zira’s memories are unlocked. She is not poor Zira, warrior priestess in training. She is Zahira Elfenresh, the last surviving member of the royal family of Rua. It is she who should be on the throne as Reia, not the Sedorne king.
Once her identity is known, Zahira becomes the leader of the temple refugees. She leads them, unwillingly, to a Sedorne lord who becomes their ally, and much more. But her alliance with the Sedorne leads many of her followers to doubt Zahira. They want Rua for the Ruan, with all Sedorne either dead or driven out of the land. But the Ruan are not a strong fighting force on their own, so Zahira must unite the Ruan and Sedorne people in order to put an end to the bloody rule of the tyrant Sedorne king.
Zira/Zahira is a smart, strong character reminiscent of Tamora Pierce’s Beka Cooper or Robin McKinley’s Harimad Crewe. The book is well-written and the story carries the reader forward quickly and seamlessly. I will be the first to admit that I picked this book up because of the striking cover art, but from the very first page I was hooked. I highly recommend this title to fans of fantasy and strong heroines!