Author: Hafsah Faizal
Narrators: Fiona Hardingham & Steve West
Audiobook Length: 14 hours 45 minutes
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.
We Hunt the Flame is the first novel in the Sands of Arawiya duology inspired by ancient Arabia. Duologies are always difficult to review as the pacing is all over the place when each novel is read individually compared to them making more sense and flowing together as a set. As the characters are traveling on a quest for most of the novel, this story does not have a ton of action. While there are still some adrenaline type moments, most of this novel nicely sets up the plot and characters. Therefore, the pacing may not be right for those seeking a more action-packed story.
The story follows Nasir, the assassin Crown Prince and Zafira bint Iskandar, the fierce huntress. Zafira must hide her gender to continue her work and protect herself against prejudices against females, while Nasir has been raised to kill by his father. As magic is disappearing from the Arawiya and Arz, the surrounding dangerous forest is growing, Zafira begins a quest to Sharr, an evil island, to retrieve an object that can help. Along the way, she meets Nasir, who is on a mission of his own and the two of them begin a journey together. Through this novel, the two characters interact more and more and each were enjoyable characters and I loved the banter between them; however, the side characters, Altair, Benyamin, Yasmine, and Deen had some moments where they seemed outshine the main characters, especially Altair. All were enjoyable and it will be interesting to see how it ends in the next installment.
The world-building in this story was vivid and well done. There are some elements and words, both in English and Arabic, that took me a minute to put together in context. While this is mostly due to me not being as familiar with Middle Eastern elements, I liked that I had some moments of learning within an interesting fictional story. I believe the print version has a glossary, so this might not be the case for others as I missed it in the audiobook version.
There is a slow burn romance developed in this story. While I liked it, I did not fully connect with it yet. I hope that this portion gets developed further in the next novel. Even though the pacing was slow and there are still many questions to be answered, I enjoyed this as an introductory novel where the potential is there to make this a fantastic duology. This novel nicely sets up the next novel, We Free the Stars, and I cannot wait to start it! I also greatly enjoyed the twists toward the end and I cannot wait to see how it all plays out in the conclusion.
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