Sunday, November 3, 2013

Review: Daughter of the Sky by Michelle Diener

Title: Daughter of the Sky
Author: Michelle Diener
Publication: March 1st 2013
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Kindle edition, 342 pages
Purchase: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository 
Cover Rating: 4/5
Overall Rating: 5/5

   
The Victorian Empire has declared war on the Zulus if they don't accede to their outrageous demands. The clock is ticking down to the appointed hour. With no idea why the British are marching three massive columns of men and guns towards them, one Zulu general is prepared to take an impossible risk. But the life he's gambling with isn't his own . . .

The sole survivor of a shipwreck off the Zululand coast, 15 year-old Elizabeth Jones is taken in by the Zulus, the people of the sky. Six years later, her white skin becomes useful to the Zulu army as they try to work out why the Victorian Empire has pointed their war-machine at the Zulu nation. Elizabeth is suddenly Zululand's most important spy.

While infiltrating the British camp, Elizabeth's disguise as a young soldier is uncovered almost immediately by Captain Jack Burdell. However, he believes the tale she spins of searching for a missing brother and shields her from discovery, allowing her to bunk in his tent and giving her a job as his batman. Burdell is war-weary and disillusioned - no longer willing to follow regulations at all costs.

But as Elizabeth and Jack explore their growing attraction to each other, the two armies move towards their inevitable clash. Elizabeth is torn between the guilt of betrayal and her fierce loyalty to her Zulu family, and when Zulu and British meet on the battlefield, both she and Jack find their hearts and their lives caught in the crossfire.


~My Thoughts:

First of all, I got this book months and months ago, back in March I think, and once again I'm pretty much hitting myself on the head for not reading it sooner. Someone needs to remind me to not ever let a Michelle Diener book wait this long. With that said, we can get on to talking about the book...

When Elizabeth Jones gets rescued from a shipwreck and taken in by the Zulus, she thought to have left her life in England behind her, being content with her life as a Zulu. Six years later, however the Victorian Empire invades Zululand and has declared war. When Elizabeth, now known as Inyoni 'bird', is asked to either infiltrate and spy in the British camp or leave because her white skin could cause too much trouble, she doesn't hesitate to help the Zulus and disguises herself as a soldier. It isn't long before she's discovered by Captain Jack Burdell but he agreed to keep her secret because he believes she's looking for her brother. In doing so, he allows her to sleep in his tent. Elizabeth needing to make a choice is torn between loyalty to her home and fellow Zulus and her feelings for Jack. When Elizabeth and Jack's attraction to each other grows and turns into something more, things get intense and far more dangerous than ever as the British and Zulu army move closer and closer to each other. 

I've read all of Michelle Diener's books now and everyone who knows me just a little bit knows that she's one of my favorite authors. I've always said that The Emperor's Conspiracy is my favorite book by her but... dare I say, this might be changed now... Yes! Although I still love The Emperor's Conspiracy, I loved Daughter of the Sky even more. You can tell that writing this book meant a lot to Michelle and reading it meant a lot to me because it was such an incredible book. The whole story was amazing and I just fell in love with the Zulu culture.
I must admit that I've never been interested in this kind of history. I usually always go for the history of Egypt or Victorian England, The Tudors, that kind of thing but this book let me see how this kind of history is pretty great to read about, too. I didn't know a thing about the Zulus and I was impressed by how proud, loyal and noble they were. Really amazing!

The characters Michelle creates are so great to read about. She always manages to write them in a way that's likable, not boring and pretty kick-ass. Elizabeth definitely was one of them. Her devotion for the Zulus, her intregrity towards them and her love for her Zulu family was unbelievably incredible to read about. I don't know, it gripped me by my heart. It really did. 
Jack Burdell was a whole other character. Very different from Elizabeth and the Zulus but so amazing. I loved him. I love how he was intrigued by Elizabeth's more wild side which came from her being a Zulu though he didn't know that at first. Their attraction to each other was almost instantly and so sizzling. 
I was also very fond of Elizabeth's Zulu brother, Lindani. I loved how much he wanted to protect Elizabeth and try to rescue her from the British camp when the fighting was starting. What happened there, broke my heart and I had so much trouble not to let go of a few tears. But even with that heartbreak the story was really beautiful.

As for the overal story, I obviously loved it and I love how Michelle tries to include real historical facts (as you can read in the afterword). I always enjoy these kind of things. Anything historical I almost want to inhale. Anyway... this was both an entertaining and wonderful to read as a fictional book but it also gives historical facts, some true, some a little spun for the story's sake but it was so, so great! 


Beautiful, gripping, heart-wrenching at times, Daughter of the Sky by Michelle Diener is one of the best books both by this author and all-time for me, personally. I loved getting to know and explore the Zulu culture and the historical facts. I won't ever forget this amazing story and characters and am startled by how I still can be impressed by an author where I've read quite a few books from but there you go. A lot of love for this book and it has definitely more than earned five stars! 






Quotes:
A man could go along, and go along, generally unhappy, getting closer to the edge, and then suddenly, he was there. Right there, able to fall either way, and frankly, the dark, shadowy side was by far the more tempting.
The hollows under her delicate cheekbones looked deeper, her uniform seemed to hang on her even more loosely, as if she were losing weight. Like a fey creature, slowly diminishing in the human world, unable to exist among men.


About the author:
Michelle Diener writes historical fiction. Her Susanna Horenbout and John Parker series starts with IN A TREACHEROUS COURT. Set in the court of Henry VIII, it features the real historical figures of artist Susanna Horenbout and Henry’s Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and Yeoman of the King’s Robes, John Parker. It was followed by KEEPER OF THE KING’S SECRETS, also featuring Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, and DANGEROUS SANCTUARY, a short story with the same characters, set between the two books, is currently available as an ebook only.
Set during the Napoleonic Wars in London in 1811, THE EMPEROR’S CONSPIRACY, was released on November 27th, 2012. BANQUET OF LIES, which is connected to THE EMPEROR’S CONSPIRACY, is set to release on October 22nd, 2013.

On 1 March 2013, DAUGHTER OF THE SKY was released. It is set in Zululand at the outbreak of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.

Michelle also contributed a short paranormal story to the ENTANGLED Anthology entitled BREAKING OUT. All the proceeds of the sale of ENTANGLED go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Michelle was born in London, grew up in South Africa, and now lives in Australia with her husband and two children.

When she’s not writing, or driving her kids from activity to activity, you can find her blogging at Magical Musings, or online at Twitter and Facebook.
Find Michelle also on:


2 comments:

  1. Sounds like a really great book! I also just love historical fiction and if it's blended in fantasy all the better. Glad you enjoyed(:
    Esty @ Boarding with Books

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  2. Oooh, I love historical fiction! :D Elizabeth sounds like a fabulous character, and it sounds like Jack was awesome too. I want to read their chemistry! I've never read a Diener book... I should really get on that! Amazing review - I hope that your next read is just as amazing, girly! :D

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