Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Review: We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Title: We Hunt The Flame
Series: Sands of Arawiya #1
Author: Hafsah Faizal
Source/Format: Purchased; Paperback
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; May 14, 2019

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
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.
I’ve wanted to read We Hunt The Flame for a while now. It seemed to have all the aspects I look for in a fantasy novel. A story involving the absence of magic and the quest to restore it is one of my favorite types of fantasy tropes, and the story Faizal crafted was just excellent.

We Hunt The Flame is a slow moving fantasy novel that deserves to be savored. The story was engrossing from what was basically the first paragraph. The world is rich with history. The characters are engaging, and they seemed to come alive on the page. The pacing set by the opening chapters really benefited the story later on. There needed to be that time and space to set up the foundation of the world, as well as introduce the characters. So when the characters set off on their adventure, I was already more than invested in them because I knew what their everyday life was like—as well as their connection with the secondary characters. There were many emotional scenes throughout the story, and I felt every one of them because of it.

Zafira was a great, well-rounded protagonist. She lived in a particularly strict part of Arawiya called “the caliphate of Demenhur.” As the Hunter she was skilled, but despite her achievements she was openly plagued by fears. That being said, she was brave, and had a willingness to step into the unknown to go after what she sought—even if her future was uncertain. Another notable aspect was the relationship Zafira had with her sister and best friends, Yasmine and Deen. It was great, and that’s all I can say about it.

On the other hand, there was Nasir. He’s supposed to be this tough guy, but by the end he was coming off as kind of sympathetic. His end of the story surprised me the most. His internal struggle was integral to his perspective, and at every turn there just seemed to be a revelation regarding him.

The other characters in the story came from just as varied backgrounds. They were interesting in their own right.

We Hunt The Flame was fantastic. The ending though, now that was one heck of cliffhanger, and I’m left with way too many questions. Luckily, I already bought a copy of the next book in the duology, and I plan to read it soon.

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