We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

We Hunt the Flame Book Cover We Hunt the Flame
Sands of Arawiya
Hafsah Faizal
Fantasy
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
May 14, 2019
480

People lived because she killed. People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the sultan. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. Both Zafira and Nasir are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya―but neither wants to be.
War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the sultan on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds―and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

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I’ve spent the last week trying to process We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal, and I think I’m ready to talk about it. I hope you’re ready to listen,

Zafira bint Iskandar | We Hunt the Flame Wiki | Fandom

Courtesy wehunttheflame.com/characters

because if you are late to this incredible story like me, you’re just in time to join the party before Part 2 is released in January!

Like all books worth reading, this debut novel by Faizal draws the reader into a new-yet-ancient Arabian world, detailed in its lands, peoples, characteristics and faults. Arawiya was once a world humming with magic. “The Six Sisters of Old” planned equal distribution of magic through minarets in each country, strong for varying reasons. But for reasons unknown, the sisters battled the Lion of the Night almost a century earlier, leaving the world darkened of magic’s glow and their leadership.

We find the world suffering and desperately isolated by an encroaching dark forest, The Arz, which is virtually impassable. Zafira, the Hunter, is one of the few who can enter and exit the forest to hunt, feeding the starving residents of her caliphate.

Until, one day, she is faced with the opportunity to journey to an island of monsters to free the magic – and save Arawiya.

Nasir Ghameq | We Hunt the Flame Wiki | Fandom

Courtesy wehunttheflame.com/characters

Enter Nasir, the Prince of Death, and a host of other colorful characters she will face in her mission to retrieve the Jawarat and return home. But will she get the chance? (You’ll have to read to find out!)

So let’s start with the one small thing that isn’t my favorite:

This book ends with a Potter-like cliffhanger and a two-year space between books in the duology (more on that later).  Though it’s not a draw dropper, the reader is left without closure. Thankfully, I don’t have to wait two years to get it since I only just read it! That being said, the ending leaves you just sated enough to survive, but definitely not satisfied. I can’t wait for Book 2, We Free the Stars.

On to what I loved (this may take a while lol):

Faizal’s attention-to-detail in her world-building is mind-blowing. Her characters have mannerisms and colloquialisms indicative of their home caliphate. For example, Zafira hails from a cold and wintery region and her “omg” is “sweet snow below”. Her thoughts and feeling suit her age of 17, but thankfully she isn’t as impetuous as female main characters in this genre often are portrayed. She clearly loves her family and friends, and grows throughout the story, letting go of some of her childlike ignorances

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and emotional reactions in place of someone who is less broken and more self-realized.

Nasir is your expected brooding hot guy, with a healthy dose of assassin abs. He has his own host of demons and throughout the book, finds his way through the darkness. But a boy who is so bruised won’t heal overnight. The question, then, is will he resolve himself enough not to ruin everything. (that’s definitely rhetorical). I love how Faizal takes us along on one of his missions, giving us a bird’s eye view of the world and its people. I initially thought the book was dragging, but as it played out, I saw the slow build and loved how it was accomplished.

But watch out, Nasir, because Zafira has a bunch of interesting and adorable guys in her path. In reading, I know I won’t be the only one who loves the silly flirtatiousness of  Altair, though there might be a lot more to the General than just a pretty face and quick wit. Benyamin and Deen both warm for different reasons – one for his devotion and the other for his intelligence (I find smart guys sexy. 🤷)

The host of strong women in this story served as guides, bolsters, and builders, giving Zafira the breadth to grow and find her voice first as the Hunter, and then as the Huntress. The Silver Witch, Yasmine,  Um, and Kifah bring bold female energies that steer our heroine along in her path, even in subconscious ways.  If you’re looking for a story of growth, passion and beautiful worldbuilding, pick up a copy of We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal. The second half of the duology, We Free the Stars, is due out January 19, 2021!

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