Gorgeous Prose and Adventure: My We Free the Stars Review

Earlier this summer, I read Hafsah Faizal's debut novel We Hunt the Flame and completely fell in love. So I was super excited to pick up the sequel!

Did I enjoy it? Yes, absolutely. Did it live up to the first book? Well ... that's a more complicated answer.

Book Title: We Free the Stars
Author: Hafsah Faizal
Publisher/Year: FSG, 2021
Genre: Fantasy
Number of Pages (According to Goodreads): 592
My Rating: 4 out of 5

Book description (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.

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.

My New Favorite Author

Okay y’all, it’s official — Hafsah Faizal is my new favorite writer! Her prose is so delicious I could swim in it. Nobody writes declarations of love, gut-wrenching flashbacks, and pithy dialogue like this queen!

On a story level, I loved spending more time with the Zumra. Getting Altair’s POV was especially delightful! I also liked seeing more of Yasmine and Lana, though they didn’t have a great time of it, poor dears.

The One Thing I Thought Was a Drag

I felt like this book’s plot wasn’t quite as well-contained as the first one — there was a lot of bouncing between locations, and it felt more scattered than the simple quest in the first book. I liked getting to explore the world more, but it didn't feel as well-contained as the first book for sure, and the story dragged in places.

I think most fantasy fans will adore this duology regardless -- I certainly did! If you're just getting into fantasy, though, be prepared for something a bit, yanno, longer than you're used to.

Trigger and Content Warnings for We Free the Stars

This book may not be for you if you're sensitive to discussions/depictions of gore, violence, murder/death, child abuse, war themes, animal death.

Final Thoughts

My thoughts about the pacing aside, I did love getting to see more of Arawiya, and this book was a tremendously solid conclusion to the duology. And I'm now even more hyped for Faizal's next book, A Tempest of Tea, which is coming next fall!

We Free the Stars is available everywhere, so check out the links below if you want to snag your own copy:

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