We Hunt the Flame is a 2019 young adult fantasy novel written by Hafsah Faizal. It is the first book of the Sands of Arawiya duology, followed by We Free the Stars in January 2021.
We Hunt the Flame Summary
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 sultan.
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 Zafira and Nasir are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya–but neither wants to be. We Hunt the Flame!
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 sultan 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.
At the core of Zafira’s character, there is a schism between her indignant attitude towards the treatment of women in her society (rightfully so) and her fear of being discovered as a woman masquerading as a man. In fantasy novels that are medieval-like in their governmental systems, the trope of a woman pretending to be a man is familiar.
This trope normally frustrates me quite a bit since the FMC usually perceives their womanhood as a weakness and is, therefore, ashamed of being a woman in a man’s world. However, in this book, women are thought to be cursed. They are, therefore, never allowed to be a figure of authority because if they are, anything a woman touches or owns will fail and wreak havoc on their village.
As I mentioned above, in We Hunt the Flame, character introspection is a huge part of this novel’s narration. Therefore, the care taken to understand Zafira’s mental state and personal desire to remain anonymous–separate from her fear of the government–makes it much less frustrating to read about her reluctance to come out as a Huntress. We Hunt the Flame!
Not only does Zafira feel the need to protect her loved ones (family and friends), but she burdens herself with the responsibility to care and feed for her village; if her ability to hunt was taken away, who would feed them? Zafira’s character is, therefore, an interesting dichotomy of what she feels is her responsibility and her own personal desires.
These desires (to solidify her accomplishments, save her family and her village, and find out why magic disappeared) push her to accept the quest to find the lost artifact, which will save her land.
Nasir is the other perspective in We Hunt the Flame and is a compelling juxtaposition to the purity of Zafira’s character. Nasir is known throughout the land as the Prince of Death as he is a prolific assassin and the son of the king and the heir to the throne. Despite being the prince, Nasir’s life is anything but pleasant.
Forced to become an infamous assassin, known for killing his father’s opposers–including innocents–Nasir has a very gray and possibly black moral compass.
Nasir, as a character, is a combination of various identities of which one lesson prevails that guides his actions: emotion is weakness. His identities range from a fearful assassin to a prince who has no power in his kingdom and a son abused and tormented by his father, the king. We Hunt the Flame!
Despite the years of physical and emotional abuse, Nasir has not been able to let go of his compassion. Therefore, those he feels guilt towards or empathy or love are used as pawns to ensure he sticks to the king’s plans.
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About the Author
Hafsah Faizal is an American author of young adult novels, best known for her New York Times best-selling fantasy novel We Hunt the Flame.