Book Review

Book Review: We Free the Stars (Sands of Arawiya #2) by Hafsah Faizal

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 592 pages
Author: Hafsah Faizal
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Release Date: January 19th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

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. 

FANTASTIC CONCLUSION.

Some dulogies really hit with that second book. This is without a doubt the case here. LOVED IT. Everything I needed. Especially since I gave the first book 3.5 stars and wasn’t convinced to pick this up for awhile. It took the audio coming to my library (which by the way, is AMAZING. Highly recommend the audio) for me to read it and I’m so happy I did!!

I LOVE THESE CHARACTERS. I probably will forget to name them all, but the main characters and supporting cast are well thought out and flow into the story perfectly. I loved Zafira and her fiery, determined nature. Nasir who is clearly the biggest cinnamon roll alive. Altair who I just want to be best friends with and Kifah who rounds out this crew with her loyalty and sharp wit. There’s many more I could mention. I loved the balance between plot and character drive.

The rooooomance. Oh it picked up beautifully. Anytime Zafira and Nasir were in the same location I got all of the giddy heart flutters waiting for them to connect. The impassioned kisses and utterly tender words whispered. MY HEART. And I’m pretty sure that ending added years to my life.

My only tiny complaint was that it took me a minute to get into and understand how the magic system was connecting with the larger plot. Since the WHtF was a travelling story I felt like I didn’t get a lot of explanations. Grateful that WFtS spread that out without info dumping. The world building and magic system are intricate and well plotted.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy + Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses / heated make-outs
  • Violence: battle scenes, weapons violence, magical and physical altercations

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Book Review

Book Review: We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya #1) by Hafsah Faizal

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult fantasy + romance
Length: 472 pages
Author: Hafsah Faizal
Publisher: Straus and Giourx
Release Date: May 14th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

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.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

A GOOD START.

I’ve decided I’m into this. Enough to check out the next in this series.

It’s hard to judge a fantasy series off of the first book because I know fantasies can take a long time to build. I think that was the case here. There was world-building, magic systems, personalities of characters to begin to figure out. This was all present here and makes me hopeful that in the next one we’ll get get to the real deepness of the book now that the groundwork is laid out.

I love the setting and it felt good to be back in a YA fantasy world. It’s my favorite genre for a reason! I love Zafira and Nasir. Hot dang the tension between them was aaaaamazing. Hardcore shipping them and better get a HEA with them or I’ll just be obliterated. They had good banter, moments of strength and weaknesses, and you could really feel them.

Things started off strong with pacing, but oh wow, dragged in the middle. It unfortunately showcased one of my lower favorite tropes, traveling. Most of the book focused on Zafira going on a journey to restore magic. Plenty of things happened along the way, yet at times felt like it things were moving rather slowly. Luckily in the last quarter they sped up again and the action took off, leaving me wondering what’s going to happen next.

These side characters were fantastic too! I didn’t find the forgettable or annoying. I wanted to know more about them and was also blown away when plot twists came in involving them. They weren’t wasteful additions and clearly are bringing a lot to the story.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses, some intense kissing
  • Violence: swords, arrows, ifrit/magical creature attacks, physical, magic

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