Tag Archives: Sands of Arawiya

Review: We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal

We Free the Stars (Sands of Arawiya #2)
Hafsah Faizal
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Published January 19, 2021

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About We Free the Stars

The battle on Sharr is over. The dark forest has fallen. Altair may be captive, but Zafira, Nasir, and Kifah are bound for Sultan’s Keep, determined to finish the plan he set in motion: restoring the hearts of the Sisters of Old to the minarets of each caliphate, and finally returning magic to all of Arawiya. But they are low on resources and allies alike, and the kingdom teems with fear of the Lion of the Night’s return.

As the zumra plots to overthrow the kingdom’s darkest threat, Nasir fights to command the magic in his blood. He must learn to hone his power into a weapon, to wield not only against the Lion but against his father, trapped under the Lion’s control. Zafira battles a very different darkness festering in her through her bond with the Jawarat—a darkness that hums with voices, pushing her to the brink of her sanity and to the edge of a chaos she dare not unleash. In spite of the darkness enclosing ever faster, Nasir and Zafira find themselves falling into a love they can’t stand to lose…but time is running out to achieve their ends, and if order is to be restored, drastic sacrifices will have to be made.

Lush and striking, hopeful and devastating, WE FREE THE STARS is the masterful conclusion to the Sands of Arawiya duology by New York Times–bestselling author Hafsah Faizal.

My Review

I started listening to the audiobook version of WE FREE THE STARS last year, but some health stuff happened and I just found it really hard to focus on the story (a me problem, not an issue with the book) so I put it aside for a long time. Recently, I decided I was ready to pick up the story again, so I started at the beginning and listened all the way through.

The story picks up where WE HUNT THE FLAME ends, and it follows three main points of view: Zafira, Nasir, and Altair. I loved the romance between Zafira and Nasir, but I think Altair was still my favorite character. He’s the one who always has some witty or snarky thing to say, and I especially loved the banter between him and Kifah. Kifah might have been my second-favorite character. Ha.

I feel like WE FREE THE STARS strikes a really great balance between the keeping up the momentum of the plot and exploring the relationships between characters. Zafira’s relationships with her sister and her best friend are both deeply important to her, and I loved the scenes that gave us insight into those. I also loved the relationship between Nasir and Altair as brothers and what that bond means to each of them since both grew up isolated.

Though it took me a long time to finally finish reading this book, I am so glad I read it. I loved the beautiful story world and the relationships between all the characters. I think fans of Renée Ahdieh or Sabaa Tahir will enjoy the Sands of Arawiya books.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Characters are coded Middle Eastern. Kifah is asexual.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
So much romantic tension between Zafira and Nasir. Lots of intense kissing.

Spiritual Content
The Sisters of Old provided magic to all the people of Arawiya. Some characters have magical ability.

Violent Content
Situations of peril. Multiple battle scenes. References to torture.

Drug Content

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog.

Review: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

We Hunt the Flame
Hafsah Faizal
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Published May 14, 2019

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

About We Hunt the Flame

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 king. 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 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 king 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.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, WE HUNT THE FLAME is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

My Review

I read some conflicting reviews of this book before actually sitting down to read it myself, so I was pretty nervous about reading it.

Turns out I didn’t need to worry, though, because I enjoyed the story a lot. The very beginning basically reminded me of what I’d hoped A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES would be. (I DNF’d that book because I couldn’t get past the family dynamics between the main character and her sisters and father. I know, tons of people love the series… it just isn’t for me.)

I’m a huge fan of those angsty heroes who, against all odds, still want to do the right thing. I felt like Nasir hit all those notes for me. He’s an assassin, made to be a cold, unfeeling weapon, and yet, he’s so human and so vulnerable underneath his chilling exterior.

Zafira is tough and smart, and she also feels like she has to put aside her emotions in order to succeed at her quest. But is she stronger without her emotions, really? I love stories that explore those kinds of questions, and WE HUNT THE FLAME totally satisfied on that exploration.

For some reason, though, I didn’t expect it to be an ensemble cast. I assumed that at some point Zafira and Nasir would make a necessary but uneasy alliance but that it would be just the two of them. At first I didn’t invest in the rest of the team because I didn’t expect them to be around long. But as I got to know them, I liked them more and more. (It took me the longest to warm up to Altair, but by the end, I am solidly a fan, and I need to know what happens to him next!)

I really enjoyed reading this book. The characters were deep and engaging, and the story of a land cursed and the quest to break that curse and return magic to the people definitely hooked me. I can’t wait to read the second book in the series, WE FREE THE STARS, which is currently scheduled to come out in January 2021. I think readers who enjoyed SIX OF CROWS or AN EMBER IN THE ASHES will love this one.

Content Notes for We Hunt the Flame

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Set in a fantasy world inspired by ancient Arabia.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Some faux curses like, “Skies.” Some curses in Arabic used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Strong sexual tension– lots of meaningful glances and obvious attraction. Some sensual kissing.

Spiritual Content
Lots of magic. Six sisters with powerful magic once ruled the kingdom, including one who imprisoned evil on an island. On that island there are creatures who impersonate people to trick or confuse Zafira and Nasir and their allies. Shadows and dark make up some magic. A powerful magical being appears to be possessing and controlling someone else.

Violent Content
Scenes show combat between Zaphira, Nasir and their allies and others. Some descriptions of torture that Nasir endured at the hands of his father and an enemy. Brief descriptions of torture.

Drug Content
Some social alcohol drinking.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog.