We Free The Stars by Hafsah Faizal
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.
Lush and striking, hopeful and devastating, We Free the Stars is the masterful conclusion to the Sands of Arawiya duology by New York Times–bestselling author Hafsah Faizal.
Trigger Warnings: violence, parental abuse, murder, war
I received an ARC from Farrar, Straus and Giroux. This does not change my opinion of the book.
Mild spoilers for We Hunt The Flame
This is the fantasy duology I wanted to read when I was a teen and I have been robbed.
Starting off where We Hunt The Flame ends, we are traveling the lands with the zumra as they fix their eyes on the Sultan’s Keep to restore the hearts of the Sisters of Old and restore magic to Arawiya. Friends left behind and losses and new beginnings brim at the center of this novel.
This is the final send off in what has quickly become one of my favorite young adult series. I could never find enough epic fantasy books as a teen and so often I would walk down the aisles of the adult fantasy section instead. I wanted to read lush prose, high drama, complicated people, even more complicated politics, beautiful descriptions of clothing, and romance so slow that a single touch of the wrist burned like a hot summer day. Hafsah Faizal matches me completely but exceeds my expectations. Her books make me wish that I could have read her as a teen.
We Free The Stars is as beautiful as the stars and yet violent like the earth.
For each novel, Hafsah Faizal makes character development and characterization the most important out of everything. It is obvious she pays great attention to every aspect of her work but she pays particular attention to her characters as though they are her children. The way Zafira, Nasir, and Altair changed in just We Hunt The Flame let alone We Free The Stars is exactly what I ask for in character development. Faizal makes everything feel easy to read and yet the chemistry between the characters simmers like a low flame on a meal, all the better when cooked over a long time and devoured by your closest friends.
The difference with We Free The Stars is these people are budding heads in already established friendships. Like a lot of friendships, things are tested most with anger and betrayal. That seems to be the true beat of this novel. Friends that are there for you and stick it out with you because relationships are complicated. People are complicated. Truths are revealed. Hearts are broken. Souls are shattered. Found family in fantasy is my favorite trope and this duology reminds me why I love it so much.
We Free The Stars is a violent book. If you assume it’s becasue of bloodshed and weapons you would be naïve.
There are scenes in here between Zafira and Nasir that reaches to very depths of my heart. I have a sick need to see my favorites living their best lives. These are the types of scenes I would love to tab and reread as a teen. I want to read it again and again and again and again. They’re that good. In fact, it hurts that good.
A Hunter and her poet. That’s the dynamic here. Nasir is changed and its entirely due to his friends. The development between him and Zafira creates just the right amout of burn. And that thing that happened in this book which I can’t talk about because it’s a spoiler is so worth it. Just pick this book up.
All these characters come to this place in their life, in their lives as the zumra and as friends, to tackle corruption and show their love for their home. They fight tooth and nail for it and for each other.