We Free the Stars is finally out today and if you haven’t read We Hunt the Flame yet and need some incentive then here are some reasons why you should absolutely pick up this duology! So here are some reasons as to why you absolutely NEED to pick up these books!
The World That Hafsah Has Created
This is an ancient Arabia inspired world and the world building is incredible. We are completely immersed in the world right from the beginning. The intricate details makes you feel like you’re standing right there with the characters. I love that feeling because it will make you feel everything so much more deeply and vividly. The smells and tastes and feeling the heat and the sand. It created an incredible experience when reading.
The Character Arcs
The character development for the characters over the two books was incredible. Our two main characters have such wonderful growth, learning to see that they are more than what they have been made into and I really loved reading their journey. Zafira is a hunter and has been singlehandedly keeping her whole village fed despite their opinions on women and it was so wonderful to see her work through her own self worth and how powerful she is. Nasir has known only pain and killing and his journey was really difficult but seeing him slowly realise he can be more, he can love and be loved was so incredible to see. Altair is my absolute favourite and I am so happy that we got to see more of him and his journey in the books too. He has a painful journey and is full of secrets so we slowly learn more about him and trust me you will fall more and more in love with him with each revelation.
Enemies to Lovers Trope
If you’re a fan of enemies to lovers then you will love this book. The tension and angst and the slow build up will leave you screaming for more. The way they start off by literally trying to kill each other and slowly learn to work together despite their differences. The tentative way they begin to trust each other when they haven’t been able to trust anyone else in this way. It’s pure perfection. Also We Free the Stars takes the sexual tension and turns it full and I was LIVING for their every single interaction.
Zafira is a Feminist Icon
She alone is able to go into the forest in search of food and keep her village alive and avoiding starvation but she has to hide who she truly is because a woman is not worth anything in her caliphate. Everyone thinks the famed hunter is a man and she has kept it this way to help her people. But as she is leaving she reveals who she truly is and vows to show them what a woman can do. The courage and strength we see from her time and time again showing everyone that women are more than capable of achieving great things. She also goes through her own journey of learning who she is and what she is truly capable of no matter what men claim about women. I loved how Hafsah wove this all into the story.
The Banter and Friendship the Zumra Have Together
I loved seeing the banter between the zumra. The sassy remarks they make at each other and how they have light moments despite being in such perilous situations. Altair and Zafira are really sarcastic with each other and I loved seeing it. I love seeing how close they get during their journey even though they start out not trusting each other.
Hafsah’s Beautiful Writing
Hafsah has such a way with words. Her writing is lyrical and lush and I found myself tabbing away at the beautiful quotes in these books. The writing is vivid and descriptive and will evoke so much emotion while you are reading.
I will leave you with some of my favourite quotes from We Hunt the Flame:
“If I told you my name, would you bow?” His voice was soft. A melancholy caress. He lifted his chin when understanding dawned on her face. “Or would you flee?”
Together, we will raise the dunes from the earth, and rain death from the sky. Together, we are capable of anything.
A life without purpose may be no life, but a life without love is nothing but an existence.
There was nothing more respectable and dangerous than a woman of confidence.
Everyone go read We Hunt the Flame and then pick up We Free the Stars because this duology is incredible and deserves all the love.
Disclaimer: Please note I am not responsible for the emotional mess that this duology will leave you in.
Thank you to Macmillan Childrens Books for sending me this arc in exchange for an honest review.
This is the sequel to We Hunt the Flame and has become one of my absolute favourite reads!
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
This book and the zumra has been living in my head rent free since I read it. I really enjoyed We Hunt the Flame but this book was absolutely phenomenal. There is no way I can truly explain how much I loved this book and how incredible the characters arcs were. This is Zafira and Nasir’s story and I loved their arcs so much. Especially Nasir who had such incredible growth and development from the hashashin we meet in We Hunt the Flame. But I also adored Altair, he was my favourite in the first book and I loved him even more in this one. I will forever mourn Benyamin who made them the zumra but was not able to see all that they achieved.
Tears aren’t a measure of heart. We grieve in different ways.
The book starts right where we ended in WHTF and while the first book started a little slower to build the world and introduce the characters, this book takes us straight into the action and show us what the characters are doing and how they are dealing with the aftermath of the ending of WHTF. I loved that we see more of the world in this book as we travel to different places as each character continues their journeys. I loved the world building and the glimpses we get of an even wider world yet to be explored and I hope we get to see them one day too!
Zafira is dealing with having the jawarat speak to her and try to manipulate her and also trying to come to terms with the fact that her people no longer need a hunter so who is she if she isn’t the hunter. I loved seeing her battle with this, it felt so real and so relatable, trying to figure out who you are and who you want to be when you aren’t forced to be something for the sake of others. As the eldest daughter, it felt so real that internal struggle she has, can she truly live her life for herself without that guilt weighing her down. I really loved how her story ended and the choices she makes for herself. She also has to deal with the misogyny and sexism and fights against this and I just loved it so much.
One of the most difficult parts of her story was reading about the guilt and tension between her and Yassmine because of the death of Deen and that it was Altair that killed him, who is now Zafira’s friend. I loved their bond and relationship in the first book so it was heartbreaking to read the strain in their relationship in this book but it also felt real, and I loved how they started to work through it but it wasn’t magically fixed and we see that it will require work from both of them. But in this book we also see her build a wonderful friendship with Kifah and I just loved seeing them both work together and be able to turn to each other.
My blade is yours. Until every last star is freed, we are bound.
Nasir’s arc was so incredible to read in this book, I liked him in WHTF but in this book I completely loved him. No one is more surprised by this than I am especially as I am usually not a fan of the broody characters but his growth and development was just SO GOOD. I loved seeing him learn to accept himself and let other people in and that caring isn’t a bad thing. His and Zafira’s scenes were so delicious to read, truly, the sexual tension and the angst was done so perfectly and I just lived for their scenes. Nasir is completely smitten by Zafira and the way he describes her and treats her like the queen she is was just so wonderful to see. Him also learning to use his powers and realising that it isn’t something that is jut evil was also something that I really loved reading.
I loved seeing him and Altair also start to build a better relationship with each other, especially after we find out they are half brothers in WHFT and that Altair has been working to build a better world for them all. There is so much baggage between them and yet you can see how much they truly end up caring for each other.
Do you understand brother? You’ll have me. No matter how thick the night, I will always be there to light your way.
We learn a lot more about Altair in this book too and his past and all the mysterious things he did to get everyone to the Sharr in WHTF. I loved learning about his back story but it was also tragic and I just want all the happiness for him. I am so glad we see more of him especially as he is my favourite with his wit and sarcasm and yet he cares so deeply for everyone even as he feels discarded. Seeing his resentment of Nasir was so heartbreaking to read and I felt truly afraid for him at times.
We also see more of Lana in this book and I loved her so much, she is so young yet has had to grow up so quickly and an incredible healer and I loved seeing her interactions with Zafira and one particular memorable moment between her and Nasir. We are also introduced to a few new characters that I really enjoyed reading about too.
You have your duty as I have mine.
The zumra spend the book trying to save their people from the lion of the night who has made himself king and they go through a lot and have to come to terms with a lot about themselves too. But we also learn a lot about the lion too and how he became who he is now and his life is also so tragic. We see how cycles of abuse hurt everyone and that it has to end to be able to build a better world and heal rather than seeking revenge for the way they were wronged.
We will carve our names upon history, and we, too, shall live forever.
This book ties up Zafira and Nasir’s story really well and I loved both their endings so much, it felt so fitting for them. I would however love to see a spin off with Altair because I just want to see him get some happiness because he suffers so much in this book. Also there is more I want to say but I can’t because spoilers but truly I can see the spin off with him a certain character and I just need it!
This book is phenomenal and I need you all to go buy it and read it. The writing is so rich and vivid and the world is so intricate and the characters are amazing. I just loved this book so much.
Growing up I never saw characters in books that looked like me and come from a similar culture so the last few years when we are finally getting these books, it has made me so incredibly excited and grateful to these authors who created these characters and fought for them to be published.
S.A. Chakraborty – It’s no surprise that Shannon is on this list. The Daevabad Trilogy are books that I love with all my heart and soul. I adore the story and the characters and I love that Shannon immersed us in the history too. I will forever be thankful that she gave me Alizayd, a practicing Muslim man who is driven by his religious beliefs, especially social justice. His journey to learning how best to bring justice for all to Daevabad was incredible to read. I felt so seen and I will always have a special place in my heart for these books and especially Ali.
Sabaa Tahir – The first time I saw a main character who was brown and the hero was Laia and Elias. It was an incredible moment for me and it was written by a Muslim woman. I loved these two so much because they were the first characters I saw who looked like me. I loved that the culture was woven into the story and discussions of colonisation was included in the story. It’s something I related a lot to.
S.K. Ali – Sajidah gave me Zayneb, an unapologetic Muslim teen who just wants to live her life but is angry because of all the injustice she faces because she chose to wear a headscarf and it marks her as Muslim. I related so much to her and I loved how she contrasted with Adam. I loved that we got a love story between two Muslim teens and it was all halal. I wish I had this book as a teen.
Hafsah Faisal – Hafsah gave me hope. A niqabi who published an incredible book and it was supported by so many. I saw her and I knew that those of us who are struggling to find our way to achieve our goals will get that boost because when do women in niqab get published by a mainstream publisher?!
Yasmin Rahman – I sobbed after reading the first chapter of All the Things we Never Said because I felt so seen. The way Mehreen feels, how Islam is an important part of her life and she takes that into account when trying to work through her suicidal thoughts. It isn’t something that is discussed in the Muslim community and I hope that this book helps others. Yasmin also started the book with Bismillah and I just knew I would love it after reading that.