As you probably know, I'm an avid reader of fantasy and love the many different worlds and landscapes that authors create. So I was thrilled to read a submission recently which was so fresh and so original that, even after decades of reading in this area, I felt that I'd stumbled across something new and exciting.
Author Kiira Rhosair has written a YA/crossover coming-of-age story with brilliant characters set against a rich, colourful and diverse landscape. The beginning of a new series, Reign of Fire follows one girl's journey to overcome centuries of heritage and tradition, and pursue the path she knows she is destined for.
Full of action, stunning worldbuilding and original characters - this is sure to appeal to readers of Kristin Cashore's Graceling, Lian Hearn's Across the Nightingale Floor, Garth Nix's Sabriel and Tamora Peirce's The Song of the Lioness series.
Reign of Fire
For the first time in seven generations, the King has no male heirs and the clan’s future is in peril. As war threatens and Jhamei’s enemies make use of spirits and demons, only one who can wield the fire of Aghni will be able to save them.
Reiya, the youngest of the king’s daughters, knows that she is meant for more than marriage and motherhood, the fate of all girls in the royal family. She dreams of becoming a warrior and making her Aghni clan proud. But with thousands of years of patriarchy against her – it will take something special to change her destiny. She never thinks that the Spring wish she makes to the Sun God Rei will be heard – let alone answered.
A chance meeting with a young warrior changes both their lives forever. It is forbidden for them to even talk – let alone train together and when they are finally caught, he is exiled and she is forced into an engagement with a neighbouring kingdom’s heir.
When her Father is murdered and her family disappears – Reiya is determined to seek revenge on those who have taken everything from her, no matter what the cost. But when she begins to come into powers that no woman has ever wielded, Reiya questions whether they are the gifts from the Aghni she has so longed for - or whether their origin is much darker . . .
I asked Kiira what had inspired her to write such a captivating story:
'The idea for the book came to me on maternity leave a few years ago. I needed a creative outlet in my time off from being a mum and health care professional. With my love of books, I naturally fell into writing but never got far enough with an idea to consider a novel of my own. Then, I came across a story on BBC news about female foeticide. It was difficult to read as I had just had a daughter and it brought home to me how deeply ingrained the desire for sons is in many cultures around the world. We are talking thousands of years of social conditioning that sons are desirable and daughters are a burden.
That story was an extreme example of misogyny but it stoked up a ‘feeling’ I used to get in my early teens. I was having an amazing time living in India and was very lucky to experience the culture, the languages and the warmth of extended family and friends. However, even with my progressive background, in certain sections of society, there were obvious differences in expectations of how daughters should behave compared to sons. I was considered too outspoken, too opinionated for a girl at times and I found it stifling. Having a daughter of my own has strengthened my views about these attitudes (which are sadly present in many parts of the world even today). When accepted behaviour for girls is typified it discourages them from developing their individuality and puts them very firmly in a box.
Reiya, the protagonist in my story, is very different to me as a person but, at her core, is that same ‘boxed’ feeling that I experienced and no doubt many girls still experience all over the world today. That was the very clear starting point for her journey and also mine as a writer. It was the need to translate that feeling onto the page and resolve it in a satisfying way using the character’s story that kept me going through the peaks and troughs of writing it.
I wanted the perspective of an underdog female protagonist discovering her strengths, set right at the heart of a magical tale that I hoped would appeal to readers of all sorts of backgrounds. I set it in an ancient time reminiscent of myths because I wanted to go back all of those thousands of years to a time when these expectations could have taken root and imagine: What if. What if a young girl in that situation would have had the courage to challenge gender expectations? What kind of myths would we have then?'
About the Author:
When Faber academy alumnus Kiira Rhosair turned her lifelong love of books into a passion for writing, she chose to write about a fantastical world inspired by the magical Indian myths that were her bedtime stories during a childhood in India. She is currently working on the first of the Aghni trilogy, a YA mythological fantasy. Kiira also writes micro-poems and more recently, flash fiction, in her time off from being a GP/mum. She was shortlisted by the TSS publishing company in their Spring 2018 competition for her flash ‘Colours.’
She can be found waxing lyrical about books, poetry and writing on Twitter @krhosair