Series: Sands of Arawiya #1
Published by Pan Macmillan Australia on May 14, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Own Voices
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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 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.
Set against the staggering desert landscape of Ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a story about a dark Prince and a Huntress dressed as a man uncovering a legendary artifact to release magic into their world. Written by an #ownvoices author, it was everything I wanted out of a story set in Arabia.
Following the Huntress Zafira, and the prince Nasir, we discover two legendary characters with the weight of the shoulders heaped upon them. Zafira is sent on a mission by a Silver Witch to recover the lost Jawarat. Through her adventures, she encounters ancient creatures of the desert and the unexpected companions of Nasir and Altair, who decide to accompany her on her quest. We know that Nasir and Altair have been sent there by the Sultan, and what results are secrets to be discovered, lots of sarcastic banter, and a slow-burning romance between two unlikely companions.
We hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves…You remind me that hope is not lost.
We Hunt the Flame is written incredibly beautifully, showing us a visual smorgasburg of the Arawiyan landscape. I loved seeing the desert setting brought to life, complete with mirages, sandstorms, and ancient creatures of legend including ifrits, magi and safi. Magic is a big part of this world, as Zafira acts as a compass in the desert as she is the only person who can locate the artifact they’re all looking for. There’s also an ancient Tale of the Six Sisters that is woven into the story, which forms a big part of the plot throughout the book.
I also liked hearing about Nasir’s journey as a brooding hashashin (or assassin), also the loyal Prince of the Sultan’s Keep. His identity is hidden from Zafira at the start, which made for an interesting conflict later on as they spend more time together.
There’s lots of internal conflict in this book, as Nasir’s story is one of abuse, as he struggles against his reputation as a murderer which has built by his father, the Sultan. Zafira is also struggling with her role as a powerless woman, so she sets out to become a legendary Hunter. Instead of being wed to her childhood best friend and love, she decides to go on an adventure, to discover the world around her, even though it’s filled with danger and foreboding.
Needless to say, there’s lots of brooding and slow character development in the novel, which slows the novel down a lot in the beginning. There were some times when I felt like the plot barely moved forward, especially after we were given the quest at the start, and I struggled to see how meandering in the desert would bring them closer to their goal. The pacing is agonisingly slow, and as much as I enjoyed the character development, nothing much really happens until the final chapters of the book.
You are the compass in the storm, the guide in the dark. You will always find your way, Zafira bint Iskandar.
Thankfully, when a book is this dark, you always need some comedic relief and that’s given to us in the form of Altair, the General. He constantly jabs at Nasir, making hilarious witty remarks, and every time he appeared he was like a shining light. He was definitely my favourite character in the book.
There’s also other secondary characters that form a part of their squad, including Benyamin who is a safin, a genie-like being who knows the history and legend of Arawiya. While I thought he was entertaining enough, much of the world building (read: info-dumping) comes from this character when they meet him. As much as I liked learning about the world, I felt like I was in a state of constant confusion and I didn’t really understand what was happening, even after re-reading some passages. There’s also Kifah, but we didn’t really see too much of her other than being a passing love interest for Altair.
We Hunt the Flame is an incredible story set in Ancient Arabia, featuring a forbidden romance, ancient legends and magic in the desert. It’s definitely a beautiful story, unexpectedly dark at times, but one I thoroughly enjoyed. Even though the world-building was confusing, I liked the squad and the mission they had to accomplish and I look forward to the sequel!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Thank you Pan Macmillan Australia for sending me a review copy!
Trigger warnings: abuse, neglect, death
RECOMMENDED READING: Glossary and pronunciation guide to We Hunt the Flame!
We Hunt the Flame is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$18.99 or from The Book Depository.