Hello book dragons!
It’s already the last day of October. This month really breezed by amongst all the festivities. It also reminds me that I am getting closer to my exams. I’ll be on hiatus from mid November to December. Wish me luck so that I can clear my finals smoothly 🌸
I am sure you all have heard of We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal. It was all over book Twitter, bookstagram, on every social media so to say. I finally had the chance to read WHTF as the publisher sent me a copy (otherwise it would have taken me another five months to read it. Also I like free stuff 😆). I read the book over the past two days. There are certain elements which I loved and others which I didn’t. So, keep reading to know my thoughts!
Book Title: We Hunt The Flame
Author: Hafsah Faizal
Total Number of Pages: 472
Publication Date: 14th May 2019
Series: Sands of Arawiya
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.
If you are a regular reader of my blog, you would know that the Fantasy genre is out of my comfort zone but I do try to read Fantasy novels now and then.
We Hunt The Flame is an epic fantasy (also known as high fantasy) so, I guess I didn’t have much of a problem. One of the most common and characteristic theme in epic fantasies is Good versus Evil which forms the main plotline in this book. I would have said that We Hunt The Flame also follows the bildungsroman plotline had I followed the protagonist from their childhood to adulthood but Zafira, the protagonist, is not presented as a child growing up into an adult. Yes, she can be seen mentally maturing throughout the novel but I think I wouldn’t draw any parallels with bildungsroman here.
The novel is set in the backdrop of Arabia in the fictional world of Arawiya. Zafira is a Huntress who disguises herself as a man and visits the Arz almost everyday to bring food for her people. The forest of the Arz is cursed and it is the whole “Evil” part in the book. The Arz is fast approaching Zafira’s caliphate and there’s no way out without fighting the Evil.
On the other hand, we have our male protagonist, Nasir who is an assassinator. You see where this is going? Do you see the undeniable enemies to lovers plot already? Nasir kills on order and that’s where the tagline “People died because he lived” comes into play. Nasir is the Crown Prince but he is better known as the Crown Prince of Death. Dude, what do you get by terrorizing people? Nasir father is a tyrant at best, a despot. At first, Nasir’s assassinating skills made no sense to me and I was like “why are you being a coward, Nasir?” If you hate killing people, why don’t you take a stand against your oppressive father?” But, all the greys, blacks, blues are cleared up later on although I wasn’t too satisfied with it.
Zafira sets about finding a lost artifact which will bring back the magic to her world. Nasir, too is sent on a mission to kill the Hunter and bring the artifact to his Father. Of course the sadist would only use it to his advantage *eye roll*. So, that’s the basic story. The romance is only a sub-plot which doesn’t enhance the main plotline in any way.
If I had to sum up my thoughts in a sentence, I would say that it didn’t live up to my expectations neither do I feel that it’s worth the hype. That’s just my personal opinion. I tend to be a very critical reader so I do a bit too much of analysing, I guess? If you loved it, that’s awesome. As always, I’ll say that read the book and decide for yourself.
I loved the characterisation, loved the overall plot even if it’s not original, loved the writing style of Hafsah. The writing style is really beautiful. The language is simple and unembellished. Zafira is a great character. She is portrayed well and is a fully fleshed out character. There are also some amazing fighting scenes. Nasir, not so much. The supporting characters are just there lurking in the background. The romance is there; enemies to lovers, one of my most favourite tropes.
My main issue with the book is its lack of intensity. The romance between Nasir and Zafira felt half-baked to me. Yes, it was there, I was “told” multiple times but I didn’t “see” it often. The romance lacked the spark, the intensity one would find in slow burn romances. It all felt abrupt and maybe even a bit forced to me. Also, Nasir comparing Zafira and finally concluding that ‘she isn’t like other girls’ (not an exact quote) didn’t really sit well with me.
If I talk about the world-building, I don’t care much for it but an epic fantasy, I believe need a good world-building apart from strong characters. There’s a map and all but I couldn’t visualise the world Faizal crafted. I could have used some more descriptions about the Island, it’s people, Arawiya in whole. The Arz was described well and I could visualise it but the other parts, not so much.
There are indeed a lot of twists and turns, a lot of sub-plots which did make the text richer. I would say that We Hunt The Flame is more of a character driven book rather that a plot driven. I could connect with Zafira but Nasir just felt out of reach. He was there yet not. Zafira definitely stole the limelight.
We Hunt The Flame may not have lived up to my expectations but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. It’s not. It’s just that I was expecting more of the richer vibrant plot as well as strong characters. While I got one, I didn’t get much of the other. It was perhaps a bit anticlimactic but not a complete let-down.
LET US CHAT!
Have you read ‘We Hunt The Flame’? What did you think of it? Any epic fantasies that you would recommend me?