Author: Hafsah Faizal
Narrators: Fiona Hardingham & Steve West
Audiobook Length: 17 hours 56 minutes
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.
We Free the Stars is the sequel to We Hunt the Flame in the Sands of Arawiya duology. The writing is filled with great prose and the inspirational elements from ancient Arabia are present throughout the pages. This novel and the series as a whole is a slow-burn, so if you are the type of reader that prefers more intensity, then this may not be entirely for you. There was a nice balance of character and plot-driven writing in the story as the characters continue to grow and the story progresses through events. The book is dense with a lot of information throughout, so it did take be a bit to fully comprehend everything. However, the intriguing plot and dynamic and complex characters kept me interested and made me want to learn more.
In this story Zafira, the hunter, and Nasir, the Sultan’s son, are still trying to return magic to Arawiya. After the battle on Sharr in the previous installment, they return to the Sultan’s Keep with the Jawarat and the looming presence of the Lion of the Night after he captured Altair. With Zafira bound to the Jawarat, she is struggling with the repercussions. Nasir’s harder shell that was presented in the first novel is continuing to melt away to show a softer side to his character even with the darkness in his blood. As a former Huntress and Prince of Death, the characters are both on a quest for redemption and to find their new identities.
Zafira and Nasir continue to grow closer in their relationship. There is not a lot of closure to their romantic relationship like I expected. Since I am a huge fan of romance in stories, I just wanted more, but I still felt like their relationship was very well done. The zumra (squad/group) all worked well together in this story and there was an excellent use of the found family trope as the characters supported each other yet were still flawed. Nasir and Altair’s relationship in this story was amazing as their banter and love for each other was incorporated well and felt natural. The two characters are opposite in personality yet they balanced each other well and the story would have felt incomplete without the inclusion of both. It was great that Altair’s perspective was included, as well as, Zafira’s and Nasir’s.
Overall, the structure of this novel is similar to the first. If the first one was not quite your style, then this one most likely will not be either. The story is very detailed in the events, the setting, and the internal workings for the characters. It was interesting to have this slower pace in the second novel in a duology as it felt similar to the first where there is a slower start building up to a more action-filled conclusion. The material itself with the plot and characters were captivating, for me, so I did not mind the slower pace as much. It did take me longer to work my way through the novel compared to my usual pace, but I still kept with it as I wanted to see how it would all come together. The ending itself was fairly satisfying and makes me want to continue to read novels by the author!
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