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We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya Book 1) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 475 pages||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled||Page Flip: Enabled|
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|Age Level: 14 - 18||Grade Level: 10 - 12|
- Book 1 of 2 in Sands of Arawiya
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From the Publisher
“Drawing inspiration from ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame gives exquisitely detailed insight into a cultural experience; this debut, about identity and unlikely allies, features subtly nuanced and deeply reflective characters. Layering high-stakes action with moods ranging from casual humor to raw anguish, Faizal bends fantasy tropes to her will to tell a fresh and gripping story about love, honor, and self-discovery that will leave readers scrambling for more.” ―Booklist, starred review
“Faizal matches a sweeping, ancient Arabian setting of shifting sand dunes, crumbling ruins, and fickle magic with an engrossing tale of political intrigue and human and divine warring powers. That sense of epicness, however, is carefully grounded by her deeply flawed, morally conflicted, and endlessly fascinating characters; as individuals, they are each interesting, but it’s the developing dynamic among the group that is truly compelling. . .Fans of Bardugo’s Six of Crows or Chokshi’s The Star-Touched Queen will be thrilled with the book’s impressive world building, stellar cast, and intricate story.” ―The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review
“Lyrical and filled with adventure, a slow-burn romance, and an unforgettable cast of characters in a world based on ancient Arabia, this is a debut series not to be missed. . .Fans of Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes and Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone should get excited for their next obsession.” ―Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review
“Faizal builds a world of immense detail and complexity. Readers smell the different foods in the marketplace and begin to understand the many layers of each culture in Arawiya. . .Faizal explores the strength of an independent female character in a world that silences women. As a result, Zafira’s courage will teach readers the power of the human spirit.” ―VOYA, starred review
“Debut author Faizal paints a vivid world, inspired by ancient Arabia and its mythology, that will appeal to fantasy and romance readers as well as fans of the Assassin's Creed video games. . .An appealing spin on traditional fantasy elements.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Hafsah Faizal creates a dazzling and beautiful world that will make you not want to put this book down.” ―Seventeen Magazine
“Faizal’s strong debut develops its engaging premise with evocative worldbuilding and memorable characters. . .Lush descriptions of setting and food offer a vivid atmosphere, and the slow-brewing romance is an engaging contrast to the harrowing emotional and physical journey at the heart of the story.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Hafsah Faizal's writing is so lush and evocative that We Hunt the Flame is gripping right from the first page.” ―PopSugar
About the Author
Hafsah Faizal is the New York Times bestselling author of We Hunt the Flame, and the founder of IceyDesigns, where she creates websites for authors and beauteous goodies for everyone else. When she’s not writing, she can be found designing, deciding between Assassin’s Creed and Skyrim, or traversing the world.
Born in Florida and raised in California, she now resides in Texas with her family and a library of books waiting to be devoured.
- Print length : 475 pages
- Publisher : Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (May 14, 2019)
- Publication date : May 14, 2019
- File size : 7246 KB
- Word Wise : Not Enabled
- ASIN : B07G11QCXY
- Language: : English
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #54,548 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The story is told through alternating POV's between female and male protagonist. Zafira is a hunter who must hide her identity in order to help provide for her people. Nasir is an assassin and a prince who just wants to escape. Along with the two narrators we are blessed with so many more wonderful characters. This unlikely crew is forced to work together and set out on an impossible quest to restore magic to Arawiya. On their quest to save the kingdom, they may very well save themselves. But everyone’s secrets could bring everything crashing down.
This was my first read with so much Arabic in the dialogue and narrative, but there was enough context that I got used to it. The last 50-75 pages had me on the edge of my seat, with sweaty palms and looking around my living room say "Omg!..... OMG!!!.... Did you just see that happen?!? Did that really happen?" WE HUNT THE FLAME is imaginative, full of twists and turns, mouthwatering food (WARNING: Do not read on an empty stomach. Seriously, get ready to start cooking!) and breathtaking scenery (you can truly picture yourself there). I need book 2 and a reread, sadly only one of these can happen right now, Haha! Do yourself a favor and pick this one up. Hafsah's writing and characters will captivate you from the very beginning. I can't wait to see where this story goes and what she dreams up next!
*A free copy was sent in exchange for an honest review, all thought and opinions are my own.
My first reaction upon finishing this book was just an explosion of emotional gibberish. We Hunt the Flame is just everything I love in a book.
A lush, dreamy fantasy world that feels both wholly unique, while it’s ancient Arabia inspiration is still ever-present. The characters are SO so wonderful and fully wrought — Zafira and her desire to be loved; poor, tortured Nasir; sassy & salacious Altair (oh, my beloved Altair!), and the list goes on. (But seriously. Dibs on Altair.)
I was actually pleasantly surprised by what a fantastic ensemble cast of characters this book contained, as the synopsis mostly focuses on Zafira & Nasir. And while it IS mostly their story, they are part of a group that really took hold of my heart. The book nerd community best prepare itself for a whole new meaning to the idea of #SquadGoals — because these characters are my new favorite fictional team.
And of course, Hafsah’s gorgeous, lyrical writing. I jotted down so many quotes while reading, and that’s something I rarely do! Her words completely sweep you away to the world of Arawiya — you can smell the air, taste the food, feel the heat on your skin. Hafsah’s writing transports you right into the heart of the story. And don’t even get me started on some of those intense, swoony scenes! I melt just thinking about them, and the way Hafsah has created such insane tension between her characters.
The plot of We Hunt the Flame moved quickly, but in so many unexpected ways. I truly wasn’t sure where things were headed until we got there, and it made for an exciting experience. But also I am now DYING to know what happens next and can’t wait to read the conclusion. Oh boy, it’s gonna be a long wait — but well worth it, I am sure.
*audiobook provided by Macmillan Audio*
My initial thoughts:
It took me a few chapters to really set myself up in this world and find my footing, but once I was in, it was a glorious ride!
Full disclosure, I’m kind of a sucker for adventure fantasy. Something about a group of characters going on long walks outdoors speaks to me. Maybe it’s my Lord of the Rings upbringing.
We Hunt the Flame is a journey. A journey of complex and dark characters in a complex and dark world. It is full of magic, mystery, secrets, friendships, love, and loss. The world and characters unfold beautifully with each new chapter, revealing just a little at a time, and I found myself engrossed by their story.
The characters are precious and I now need to protect them at all costs! Zafira, Altair, and my sweet murder baby Nasir have become my children. They are dark, witty, strong, and soft when they need to be. Faizal wrote them so well and made me let them in to my heart. I left with a new book husband and several new friends.
It feels like I’m rambling. I have a hard time writing reviews for books I’ve loved because nothing does them justice. So, go read this glorious Arabic fantasy and fall madly in love with the magic and mystery and beauty of it all. Let yourself sink your feet into the sands Faizal has created and enjoy the journey.
Top reviews from other countries
In general the writing is vivid and descriptive, if occasionally a little too verbose for my tastes. Sometimes the author’s attempt at being descriptive makes things clumsy and bogged down in detail that isn’t needed. When she gets it right however the results are breathtaking. There’s one line describing someone’s blue eyes being akin to sunrise on the sea that nearly made me squeal at its beauty. Unfortunately the author does have a somewhat annoying habit of breaking one sentence over three lines. At first it was a literary choice, but by the fourth or fifth time just irritated me and knocked me out of the story.
The story takes too long to get going, once it does the pace is fairly even and things move along quickly. I’m glad I persevered through at the start although admittedly I stopped a few times reading the first third of the book unsure if I was going to carry on with it because it dragged so much. Zafira focused chapters were sometimes painfully slow yet Nasir’s introduction was stunning. Zafira focused chapters walk a very fine line between internal conflict and just plain whining but the balance is mostly right.
All in all a solid novel and I look forward to reading the next.
- Faizal has a very poetic writing style with a breath-taking flow in certain areas – spices to colour papyrus, sunsets in people’s eyes! She clearly put her heart into these vivid descriptions.
- The zumra (gang) is well-balanced out and interesting. The character Altair is by far the most fleshed-out and memorable. Many a time, I laughed aloud at his antics!
- The world-building is excellent, though I look forward to understanding which lands lie where in the next book.
- The plot twists are interesting – yes, there was a classic Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker moment, but it was well executed.
- The details behind the Arz and how Zafira came to develop her affinity were one of a kind and unique. At a point in time where this genre has almost been exhausted, it is refreshing to still read completely fresh and unique ideas.
- The first half of the book drags on, especially Zafira’s parts. Her going to a wedding, traipsing past shops, going to (an under-developed) hide-out, etc – seemed very random and did not contribute much to the story. Nasir started off with an assassination – but even then, why he was assassinating the man he was ordered to assassinate, had no real connection to the story either. I often forced myself to keep reading in this time, trusting that eventually the gears will start turning. Many times, after putting the book down, I felt like I would not return to it. I had no curiosity whatsoever as to what would happen next, as most of the early events happened without any real purpose and the main characters (Zafira and Nasir) only met mid-way in the book! And the book only really gained pace once they met.
- It felt like the first half of the book and the second half were written by two different people, as there is a noticeable shift in writing ability. The first half is very flowery and verbose – and sometimes a bit too wordy for my liking. Sometimes it also just didn’t make sense. For example, on page 11, it says: “There was no sign of the bleeding black or the silver cloak now. The snow was pristine as the claws in her brain loosened.” Shouldn’t it be something like – “the snow was pristine, she realised, as the claws in her brain loosened”? There are multiple examples like this through-out the book. The second half was better written and had an excellent pace.
- The great quest was unimaginatively introduced…by the main character finding a note in her satchel. The other characters also came to know in a very deflated, anti-climactic way. Her little sister ‘found’ the note and then went on to tell her best friend and love interest in her absence.
- There are very poor transitions in the story. For example, at one point, Zafira drops to her knees as she realises that she doesn’t know the way anymore – and then the chapter ends. The next chapter begins with her suddenly being in the Lion’s den. Even when the other characters search for her, there’s no mention as to what had happened from her being on her knees to her mysterious disappearance. There are multiple examples like this through-out the book, and it is very jarring to read. Whilst Faizal describes feelings very well, and very poetically, her description of environment is poor, and makes it hard to imagine what is happening around the characters as they transition from movements or places.
- Almost every character in the book looked at someone ‘with darkened eyes’ (meaning, with desire) at one point. Misk with Yasmine. Deen with Zafira. Altair with a bar woman. Nasir with Zafira. Zafira with Nasir. Altair with Kifah. The Lion with Zafira. This repetition became very tiresome to read, very fast, and very early on. On that note, as a whole, this book is definitely more of a romance than an adventure/epic/fantasy.
There are also a few inconsistencies in the story (which I haven’t given up hope on, I hope at least half are answered in the second book!):
- The king’s palace for some unfathomable reason is pitch black and in darkness, when the location it is situated in is a hot desert where the sand is like ash. The description of the structure gives one the vibe of a stone castle from a colder, Western climate, which was then unceremoniously thrust into Arabia – yet somehow retained its dark melancholy. “The palace was so dark, one couldn’t tell the difference between rat and man anyway,” Faizal writes on page 37. This peculiarity should have been explained somehow. Are there no windows? Is the entire structure like a dungeon?
- Zafira agreed to marry Deen, who was like a best friend to her, and who was then subsequently killed – yet in a very short time she was magnetised by Nasir who, at the time, she knew had a 50% chance of being the one who had killed Deen. She fell for Nasir in a few days’ time – either out of pity or just sexual attraction alone – but definitely not for any real reason with substance. The same ridiculous shift occurred with Nasir, with a huge chasm in his character development. He was ready to kill her, yet, a few days later was inexplicably weakened by her and drawn to her. Whatever ‘love’ they share is no doubt very shallow. Whilst Zafira is capable of great self-sacrifice, compassion, and forgiving love for Nasir, these qualities seemed to be completely absent from her when she ignored her mother for five years and also didn’t shed even a tear over the death of Deen (not to mention, she actually smiled because of something Altair said, soon after Deen had just died!). Due to Zafira and Nasir meeting half-way through the book, their relationship also felt very unnatural and rushed. At the end of this book, it still stands as a very toxic relationship consisting of much sword-pointing and heart-breaking, and I am left dumbfounded as to what it is that magnetised them to one another in the first place?
- Nasir’s mother was a powerful witch/”sister”, yet somehow couldn’t stop her (human) husband from torturing and branding their son, and eventually being branded and scarred by him herself as well? This seems like an absurd contradiction to me, when every character in the book is otherwise in great fear of her power.
- Why are the six sisters’ raw, bloodied hearts in the ground? Whilst I understand it’s meant to be the source of their powers, I felt there should be some kind of explanation as to how they ended up there and why they were separated from their bodies and skeletons.
- Why was there no indication whatsoever that Nasir was afraid of the dark until the very last moment, when we come to know of his affinity of darkness? This was very anti-climactic as well. Previously he had been in a dark castle and a dark dungeon, and in the dark in the midst of a forest, yet he had shown no fear. Suddenly at the end of the book, we are expected to somehow feel sympathy for him because his affinity of darkness is ‘his greatest fear’?
A final point – which is not to do with the story at all, and I accept I may be argued with due to it. As always, nobody needs to take any of my opinions into consideration! And everyone is entitled to their own opinion. However, the main reason I personally bought and read this book was to support a minority author, who I felt was incredibly brave to face the world in her hijab and face-veil, and to show she can uphold her beliefs whilst simultaneously achieving her dreams, and success. However, I couldn’t help but think, when the characters were kissing, fondling and all sorts – that this didn’t seem to align with the symbolism of hijab. The Virgin Mary also covered her head, and covering the head is symbolic in many religions around the world. If the author herself, in hijab and a face veil, would not even touch a non-related man, it felt very contradictory to me that she would write sexually heated scenes and sensationalise them. On top of that, the main connection between the two characters is very much a physical one. I can’t quite wrap my head around this blatant contradiction – but again, I am not in a position to judge. I do, however, feel like the reason why I wanted to support the author was left somewhat dismantled – I imagine there would be many face-veiling women who would not be comfortable with this. I am a firm believer in inter-faith dialogue and points of unity between religions, and that it is very possible to write great stories whilst staying true to your faith. J.R.R.Tolkein and C.S.Lewis wrote their novels whilst upholding their Christian beliefs – and therefore did not go in to immodest/irreligious territories. I look forward to reading a true Muslim/Jewish/Buddhist etc equivalent of their stories one day!
All in all, an excellent effort from Faizal, and I will be reading the sequel – however, her writing is not (yet) the cream of the crop for me.
My incredible first lockdown read, this book set the bar incredibly high for every book that followed.
We Hunt the Flame is an astounding tale set in Ancient Arabia about a Huntress named Zafira and an Assassin-Prince called Nasir. Fate brings them and a band of misfits together in the unforgiving desert island of Sharr, on their quest to return magic to the kingdom.
From the incredibly lush word-building to the empowering characters and intricate plot, this was everything I’ve ever wanted in a fantasy book.
I can't wait to see what Hafsah Faizal has in store for the characters in We Free the Stars!
Zafira is the only one brave enough to face the Arz and come back out whole. She hunts in the forest that is slowly enveloping her home, her country, that sends you either mad or never to be seen again. Once you enter the Arz, it consumes you. Zafira is known as the Hunter, that know one knows is a woman. A woman that feeds the western villages of her calphite, ruled by men and where women are allowed no freedom. If her achievements were revealed she’d shunned and rejected.
Nasir is his father tool, made into the emotionless assassin he is today. The sultan has ordered his son to kill countless innocents for the smallest slights or disobedience. Nasir cannot defy his father, for his compassion comes with a price, and he will be punished in the most brutal of ways.
Both are known throughout the kingdom of Arawiya, legends in the own rights and neither of them wants to be.
The Arz is creeping over Arawiya further with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow and soon it will swallow it whole. Magic has been lost to Arawiya for ninety years, and Zafira has been tasked with a quest to restore it. To bring back magic, destroy the Arz and avenge her father’s death at it’s hands. But Zafira isn’t the only one searching for the lost artifact that will restore magic. Nasir is sent by the sultan on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter and anyone else that might get in his way. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.
This book was absolutely, utterly, brilliant and amazing. I loved this book from beginning to end. As soon as I finished reading We Hunt the Flame I lied on my bed chanting “I need the next book, I need it, I need it, I need it,” because it utterly destroyed me and I need to know what happens next.
I was instantly hooked into this story. I was instantly intrigued by what was happening and I had difficulty putting it down. I loved that the chapters and perspective switched between Zafira and Nasir. Giving two, sometimes opposite and conflicting, insights into the story. I loved that their two points of views started off so very different and showing two different parts of the world. Which slowly began to align as the story progressed and they realised that they needed the other to find the book on Sharr.
The journeys and growth that the characters go through over the course of this novel were heartbreaking at times. So much happened to Zafira and Nasir, to them separately and them together that I don’t know how to put into words the roller coaster this book was.
So many of the characters were dark and conflicted, hiding secrets from others and sometimes themselves. The main group of characters, the zumra, don’t all truly trust each other. Well, Zafira and Nasir don’t seem to trust anyone really. But they all have to work together in order to reach the same goal. As Sharr plays on their fears and loneliness, Sharr (the prision island) is alive in a way and can play them against each other. The beings that had once been trapped during the rein of the Six Sisters have been left unchecked and allowed to roam wild since magic and the Sisters vanished. Many of them are bloodthirsty and want to get their hands on the zumra. So even though they don’t want to work together they have to survive this island.
I loved that they were forced together to stay alive. Going from enemies, begrudging friends/allies, friends but-I’m-not-going-to-admit-it, and potential even more in the sequel (mainly between Zafira and Nasir). Think that there’s also some potential for the found family trope that might work with the groups dynamic.
This book has really stayed with me since I read it and I think that it is one of the best books that has come out in 2019. It is an amazing debut that is rich with magic, love, family, friendship, and so much more. I highly recommend this to anyone that loves fantasy. I would say that this is one of the must read books of 2019.
The only downside of this book is that I don’t have the sequel already.
Definitely an adventure with our protagonists!
The way Hafsah Faizal writes is absolutely beautiful - there is richness in the way she describes the characters and their relationship with each other and their culture/history. The people of Arawiya are a few decades into not having any magic but you definitely understand that their blood sings with the need to fight for it somehow, use it again - destroy the Arz. And when one woman (disguised as a man) journeys into the Arz only to come back out alive and with her mind intact, the beings who have been waiting for the right time, decide to strike.
I did really like this story and I definitely want to continue the series.
That being said,
the pacing was hard for me - I think this has to do with the fact that I am very much a reader lead by romance and in the beginning, I was VERY confused about who the love interests were. And when I realized, it took half of the book for them to even meet.
There were also a few other things that bothered me but I go into detail in my latest video.
Overall, I do really like this book and I really want to continue the series. Because of the pacing and my mood, I just might continue to the second book in a week or so. But I'd recommend this one!