Title: We Hunt The Flame
Author: Hafsah Faizal
Narrator(s): Fiona Hardingham, Steve West
Run Time: 14 hours, 45 minutes
Trigger Warning(s): Violence, loss of a loved one (NOTE: If you believe I have failed to include any necessary trigger warnings, please inform me and I will add them)
Summary: 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.
Y’all. I ain’t even know where to begin with this one. The hype was strong with We Hunt The Flame and it seemed to have the makings of a book I’d fall in love with…but it just…fell completely flat. At about 50% I finally decided to put myself out of my misery and call it quits.
We Hunt The Flame is the story of Zafira, a legendary huntress who must keep her identity hidden, and Nasir, a prince turned assassin desperate to earn his father’s love. When both are tasked with finding an item which could return magic to the land of Arawiya, the two set off on an epic treasure hunt on a dangerous island. But there may be more players in the game and higher stakes than Zafira and Nasir know…
We hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves.
Doesn’t that sound awesome?! Yeah, I totally fell for the premise. With an intriguing premise PLUS own voices Arab representation set in a fantasy land, I wholeheartedly believed that We Hunt The Flame would instantly become a new favorite. Unfortunately, I ended up being sorely disappointed. It kills me to say this, but I struggled so much with this book. That’s not to say there weren’t good points! But it just wasn’t enough to save We Hunt The Flame for me…
There is a certain beauty in chaos, magnificence in the uncontrollable.
W H A T I L I K E D
- Gorgeous prose! It would be remiss of me not to recognize that Faizal’s prose itself is incredibly beautiful. There were some truly magnificent quotes from the book that I couldn’t help but bookmark because they were just so amazing! Beyond that though, Faizal’s writing is rich and lush, never faltering in its poetic nature. Faizal paints beautiful, rich images with each word, creating an enchanting, fairytale-like reading experience.
- An amazing world! As someone who is Lebanese, one thing that always bugs me is how the Arab world is often depicted solely as desert, when in reality, the Middle East is full of diverse geographic landscapes and terrain, from deserts to mountains to rivers, lakes, seas, plains, etc. Faizal doesn’t fall into this trap, though. Arawiya is a richly diverse land full of diverse landscapes and diverse cultures—just like the actual Middle East! Faizal paints a rich, lush image of Arawiya. It is a place of magic and mystery and beauty and fear! I just wanted to explore Arawiya and learn everything about it!
- Arab representation (woot woot 👐👐)! As an Arab American myself, I love seeing Arab representation in books—whether it’s set in the real world or a fantasy one. The rep in We Hunt The Flame was superb, showcasing Arabic language as well as numerous aspects of Arab culture. If you’re looking for a fantasy book with great Arab representation, this just might be the book for you.
Darkness is my destiny.
W H A T I D I S L I K E D
- Stakes? What are those? We Hunt The Flame doesn’t seem to have a clue. One of my main issues with this book was that its conflicts seemed to have little to no stakes. For example: on the one hand, if Zafira reveals she is The Hunter, she might be shunned from society, but on the other hand she already has a loving family and close friends who know her secret and accept it gladly, so does it really matter? Not really, if you ask me. Nasir is The Prince of Death and doesn’t want to be but fears losing his father’s approval. But is anything at stake other than his father’s approval? No. Zafira and Nasir must go search for a magical treasure on a dangerous island. Why is it important? Couldn’t tell you, to be honest. Every “conflict” had no stakes, no greater reason to be important to the characters and/or the story and thus to the readers.
- Cardboard characters. If you asked me to give a short description of We Hunt The Flame‘s characters, I’d honestly be at a loss. The characters were flat and faded, marked by a distinct lack of reason and emotion. The only character who was at all memorable or distinct was Altair, but even that isn’t saying a lot as he mostly seemed to be there for no other reason but to be comic relief. I wanted to love them so bad, but I just couldn’t connect and it just breaks my heart!
- Let’s just say We Hunt The Flame has…”relationship issues”… For all that the characters may have been situationally related to each other they may as well might not have been at all given the fact that they all were unusually distant with each other. When they spoke or interacted, their words and actions seemed to lack solid motive and emotion and just came off as weirdly robotic. For instance, Deen is a secondary character who is a childhood friend of Zafira’s. Deen is in love with Zafira but she’s distant and pushes him away. Why? Honestly…I couldn’t tell you. Zafira seems lukewarm in her reception to Deen, enjoying his friendship, acknowledging his love, thinking that he shouldn’t be with her, and the entire time never once saying or showing how she actually feels about him or giving a reason why she has to keep Deen at a distance. It’s infuriating because in doing this Faizal makes the depiction of their relationship pointless and, what’s more, make Zafira appear robotic and lacking in motive for anything. And that’s just one example relationship. If the others had been done better, I might’ve been forgiving. But they weren’t…
- IT’S. SO. SLOW! We Hunt The Flame seemed to move at a glacial pace. Combine this fact with all of my other issues and the book just seemed to drag on and on and on with no payoff in sight.
- Inconsistent usage of Arabic. I know this probably doesn’t bother many readers, but as someone who is semi-fluent in Arabic it struck me that the usage of Arabic in We Hunt The Flame was oddly inconsistent. In one scene, a character will say “marhaban” (Arabic for “hello”) and in the next, they’ll simply say hello in English. In one particularly memorable instance, a character refers to coffee as “qahuah” (Arabic for “coffee”) then in the same paragraph refers to it as “coffee” then in the next paragraph refers to it once again as “qahuah” again—all without mentioning that “qahuah” and “coffee” are the same thing! Part of the reason this inconsistency bugged me is because I can see it becoming confusing and off-putting for readers who don’t speak Arabic.*
*Please note that because I listened to the audiobook of We Hunt The Flame, my transliteration of “marhaban” and “qahuah” may be spelled differently than that which actually appears on the pages of the book. I apologize for any confusion.
Be as victorious as the name I have given you, and bring the desert to its knees.
So that’s all I got for you today, folks! I wish I could say differently, but after I got so excited to read We Hunt The Flame, it let me down. I do want to say that if Faizal writes other books/series, I will still check them out because I do actually see potential her as a writer. This just wasn’t it for me, though. I’m interested to her all about your thoughts, though, so definitely let me know in the comments!
R A T I N G
T E L L M E A L L A B O U T I T
- Have you read We Hunt The Flame? What are your thoughts on it?
- If not, do you plan on reading We Hunt The Flame?