I have been looking forward to We Free the Stars since I finished We Hunt the Flame. While it’s been a while since the first, I have loved the world of Arawiya. Talk about lush world building where you can feel the sting of sand against your skin. Keep reading this book review to hear my full thoughts on this duology ender!
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
While We Free the Stars is full of action, the characters were what kept me reading. Not only is this sequel brimming with witty banter and silences packed with yearning, but it’s also about family, friendship, and love. About characters and family that tests our limits and twists our hearts in their sacrifices. In their quests for vengeance and pride. We can believe our feet are stuck on one road, unable to diverge even when our heart does. But can we find the strength to alter our own heading?
Sometimes we wish we could act on what our heart wants, but we are held back by duty and fear. We Free the Stars is very much a story about conquering over vengeance. Conquering over resignation and betrayal. Loyalties change and break, but what happens when we stop trusting eaach other? It’s hard to mend these relationships of torn shreads of monstrous loves and human mistakes. Anger can simmer, slowly eroding the walls of our heart, until it can overwhelm us in a flood. But once we let the floodgates down, we become controlled by our rage.
(Also loved that Kifah seems to be aromantic!?)
We Free the Stars delivers a satisfying, and emotional ending to a fabulous duology. It inspires hope that we can make a different future and change our actions. That running from what scares us cages us in a life of fear. The characters, as well as their development, are what truly propelled me through this sequel. Find We Free the Stars on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.