*Spoiler free, but spoilers for We Hunt The Flame*
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.
After reading We Hunt The Flame, I was incredibly eager for We Free The Stars. The way that the previous book ended left me wanting more, wanting to know what was going to happen to the zumra, with magic, and with Arawiya. I knew this book would probably thrust many feelings upon my heart, but I wanted to see what those feelings were going to be. Trigger warnings: mentions of abuse (physical and emotional), blood, gore
Reading books by Hafsah Faizal is just a wonderful experience. She makes you crave more of her storytelling while falling in love with the story she is currently weaving. So yes, We Free The Stars was an amazing, amazing sequel and an incredible book all around.
I’m starting off with the writing because WOW. In We Hunt The Flame, I fell in love with Faizal’s writing. It’s lyrical and a thing of pure beauty. It was no different in this book. It’s so easy to slip into, so easy to be wrapped up in it. It pulls the threads of the book around you, creating a tapestry full of color and vivid scenes. This author knows how to put words together and she is TALENTED.
In my review of We Hunt The Flame, I mentioned that it was very character driven. The same is true for this book. Every single character feels so real, it’s almost like I could feel the heat coming off their bodies at times. Nasir and the darkness, Zafira and her swirling emotions, Kifah and her strength, and Altair with his golden smile are so potent.
Since these characters are so strong, the relationships and bonds they form are just as vivid. The way the zumra works is different than in the first book, because of course the circumstances are different. But, I loved how their relationships ebbed and flowed, and adjusted to whatever they were facing.
New characters also get a bigger part of this book, and I loved their presence! They were hilarious, brought a lot of feelings onto me, and were just wonderful overall.
The plot of this book is so different than the previous. In We Hunt The Flame, there is a very singular goal. Everybody was focused on surviving Sharr and the mission they came their to complete. The rest of the world might as well have been a world away. In this book, that world is now very much in play. So many moving pieces are thrown into the mix. This gives the book a very different feel and it also made it have a lot of different things going on most of the time.
This made my feelings about the plot a bit complicated. There is so much to love about it, but the small things that I didn’t quite love are still there. I think there were things I wanted more of. Zafira is grappling with her emotions, where she fits into the world now that her circumstances have changed. She has this emotional journey she’s going through, but I felt like it was very here and there. It didn’t feel like something that was continued throughout the book, but bursts of development that happened at certain times. This doesn’t mean that the development was bad, because I do love what happened with Zafira’s emotional journey. She has a lot to figure out, and lot of emotions to sort through. I loved what she had to do and where she ended up, I guess there were just a few things I didn’t completely love.
There was also this plot point that I felt was kind of thrown in there at the end. Maybe it was foreshadowed a bit in the beginning, but I felt like it should have been integrated into the plot a lot more. I’m being purposely vague because this plot point is very far into spoiler territory haha.
There was a lot going on in this book, and I guess I feel like certain things could have been focused on more, to make the book feel fuller.
This isn’t to say that I didn’t like anything about the plot or where this book went, because I did end up absolutely loving it. The strength of the characters and the talent in the writing made this book something completely wonderful. Politics are shifting, characters are struggling with darkness, secrets are being kept, magic needs to be brought back. It’s a journey, and it’s an incredible one.
All in all, I loved this book. I might have had a few things I didn’t love, but they honestly feel small in the face of everything that this duology is. This book did rip my heart out at times, it did make me want to sob, and it did make me want to hug it tightly. It’s amazing and the ending completely took my breath away. This is an amazing duology and We Free The Stars is an amazing book.