We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal (Sands of Arawiya #1)
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (BYR)
Release Date: May 14, 2019
Available Through The Book Depository: We Hunt The Flame
Summary: 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 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.
My Rating: ★★★★☆
My Thoughts: We Hunt The Flame is a YA Fantasy debut that has been highly anticipated and one you don’t want to miss! From the expansive world of Arawiya, intriguing plot, and wonderfully developed cast of characters, Faizal’s debut takes the reader on an epic fantasy adventure!
Told through dual POV, We Hunt The Flame follows Zafira, known as the Hunter, and Nasir, prince of Arawiya who goes by the title of the Prince Of Death (essentially the kingdom’s assassin!).
Zafira hunts for her people disguised as a boy in Demenhur, which is a kingdom cursed with eternal snow. She hunts within the Arz, a forest of encapsulating darkness– while many have become lost within it, she always finds her way back!
Nasir is the ever-loyal assassin for his father (the sultan) and goes across the kingdom getting rid of those who undermine his father’s rule. He believes he will forever be cursed with a life of darkness and because of that, keeps himself isolated from the world.
Their stories become intertwined when their confronted with a mission that takes them to a mysterious island with magic no one has seen for close to a century!
I loved the entire first part of this story–introducing us to the world of Arawiya through both of our main characters in their natural elements: Zafira having hunted a deer in the Arz and Nasir, assassinating a man suspected of treason against the kingdom.
These lines from Zafira & Nasir’s opening chapters will forever be remembered in my mind anytime I think of We Hunt The Flame:
People lived because she killed…People died because he lived…
What I loved about those lines is how much they tell us about them as characters before their stories even begin! Zafira is the kind of person who always puts others before herself. Although she has her own desires & wishes, she never chooses to act on them–only on what she feels will make everyone else around her safe or happy!
Nasir has been raised to kill and is continually put in situations where he wants to show his loyalty to his father. But, he does it even knowing his father will never be proud–with that, he uses that as a shield to isolate himself from the kingdom he will be destined to rule. Luckily, he does have general Altair by his side (though Nasir begs to differ XD).
This is a debut that surprised me in so many ways and had so many elements I loved–not only the main characters, but also the expansive world, magic system, character dynamics, and intriguing plot!
Nasir and Zafira’s mission has been spurred by a mysterious entity who calls herself, The Silver Witch. Their mission promises the return of magic to their world, even if it means braving this mysterious island where the magic is wild and unexpected.
Another element to the world that I loved was that although their world has been free of magic for quite sometime, you can still sense its presence in the kingdom itself and that’s because of Faizal’s writing– it creates such vivid settings, imagery, and delivers a sense of wonder! There wasn’t a single moment where I was ever pulled out of the story! The lush prose delivers a balance to its characters, world, atmosphere, and dialogue in such a great way!
Their both tasked with finding the Jawarat, the mythical book that bring magic back to their land. But, in addition to that–Nasir is given another task to kill anyone who can get in the way (Altair included) and the Hunter!
As the story progresses where Nasir & Zafira finally meet– truths come to light and their forced to stick together if their going to find the book!
There’s also a very present/relevant theme of identity throughout the book that is explored so well between them! Both Nasir & Zafira face truths about their identity and when they are presented with new info that changes what they first believed about themselves! I felt it really showed how much depth there was to them to see the many differing sides to them not just throughout their journey, but also through them as characters–we see their strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerable moments which really surprised me!
There’s also themes of grief and loss explored throughout as well!
As for other characters, I loved the ensemble dynamics explored! Firstly with Zafira in her home village, with her sister Lana, friends Yasmine & Deen! Next it was Nasir & Altair–their dynamic/banter was the best and easily a highlight of the book!
I also find the exploration of past/current love isn’t always explored in YA Fantasy between main characters–but We Hunt The Flame really highlighted that & it was so well developed (Zafira w/ Deen & Nasir w/ Kulsum). I loved how they also symbolized the thread to their previous lives before coming to the island of Sharr.
As Zafira, Nasir, & Altair find themselves working together we also get introduced to a couple of new characters on the island: Kifah, & Benyamin!! I loved learning more about them and found them to be such wonderfully developed characters + additions (who do get introduced mid-way through WHTF).
Overall the main crew/characters were just too precious & have to be protected at all costs!! I loved them a lot!! (;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`)❤
Additionally, the way Faizal used dual POV was fantastic–it offered so much to so many different elements of the story from the atmosphere, expansive world, characters, etc. The character-dynamics were also so good, not once did I feel certain characters were forgettable or lacked depth!
When talking about the world, the contrast to the setting of the frozen lands & deserts (Demenhur vs. Sarasin) were so vivid and I could picture both of them perfectly! Even the element of the forest of darkness, The Arz, was something special that really brought the setting to life & made it sparkle.
Now onto what made me rate this a 4–though rating aside, I really loved this book and the ending left on a note where I was in shock, but SO ready to read the sequel! (I can’t believe I have to wait a whole year!!). Those last few chapters–just WOW!!
Honestly, I do think that the pre-release hype had my expectations really high for We Hunt The Flame and overall my personal expectations too. I was so ready for the Assassins Creed elements to shine more throughout the book (though they were really present within Part 1) and it definitely switched gears as the story progressed– I was disappointed, but that’s only because I wanted more–I loved reading the chapters where Nasir traveled throughout the kingdom as an assassin & seeing Zafira brave enough to trek through the Arz as she outran guards!!
I did feel that because the writing is very character-focused, the plot (mainly surrounding the Sharr storyline) felt like it wandered a bit and I was hoping for more of the over-arching plot to be explored for a larger part of those chapters instead of being left to the last chunk of chapters.
Also, for me personally, I felt Nasir & Zafira’s defining characteristics (being the Assassin/Hunter) got a bit lost as the story progressed (mainly with Nasir) and I was hoping for their personas to be more of a focused part of their character that was present throughout the whole book (Hopefully that makes sense?).
But overall, like I said above there were so many wonderful and fantastic elements to We Hunt The Flame that really left this book as a memorable and favorite read of mine for sure! I can’t wait to see whats next in the sequel!!
We Hunt The Flame is a YA Fantasy debut inspired by ancient Arabia that takes the reader on an immersive, magical adventure! Faizal’s debut is an atmospheric fantasy tale that delivers such a vivid world, fantastic cast of characters, important themes woven throughout, and plenty of action! We Hunt The Flame is debut that will leave you wanting the sequel right away when you turn that final page!
I’m also shouting out a fellow book blogger review 😍💞📚 I recommend checking out:
We Hunt The Flame Review from Lila over at HardcoverHaven121
As an Own-Voices reviewer for Arab rep., she talks about the diverse geography of the Middle East and how accurate the setting of Arawiya was for her when listening to We Hunt The Flame on audio! She also loved how the novel showcased so many different aspects of Arab culture, such as language!
She also loved the rich prose that Faizal crafted within her novel (which I loved too!!). Though it wasn’t a perfect rating for her, I loved how she expanded on the different points in her review and her thoughts on it from the audiobook perspective!