An epic new fantasy takes us to the cursed kingdom of Arawiya, where each region has been uniquely cursed, and magic had vanished from the land. Zafira is from Demenhur, a land plagued by constant winter and imprisoned by the Arz, a forest of complete darkness. Only Zafira, secretly the legendary Hunter, is able to venture into the Arz to bring back food for her people. Unfortunately for her, the fame of the Demenhune Hunter has spread throughout Arawiya and will bring Zafira onto a dangerous quest bring back magic.
Meanwhile, Prince Nasir, the infamous Prince of Death, the Sultan’s loyal assassin, is sent to kill all who try to complete the quest. Nasir has spent his entire life training to be a ruthless assassin, yet he can’t stop his compassion – no matter how hard his father tries to crush it out of him. His only real friend is the Sultan’s general, Altair, who thrives on women, secrets and teasing Nasir. Right away, you understood their relationship was more like brothers than prince and subject. Their banter – paired with Zafira’s snarky comebacks – made this book incredibly entertaining.
I really, really loved this magic system and the people’s myths and how these two interacted. You wouldn’t think the events that happened over a generation ago would have such an effect on the story and it was wonderful to ferret out what was true, what was simply magic that had been immortalised in myth and what had once been true but had become twisted. This was such a well-developed and thought out magic system that clearly still held many secrets yet to shock and awe the reader.
Plus, I loved the Middle East inspired world; it’s a culture and mythology is one you don’t get to see nearly enough of. I loved all the dramatic differences between the regions, not just geographically but culturally. In Demenhur, the lord of the region has forbidden women from doing things that are ‘a man’s job’ – just like in many Middle Eastern cultures – which is why Zafira must keep her identity as the Hunter hidden.
The twists and reveals were amazing, and I didn’t expect any of them! Also, I loved how cast of characters. Yasmine and Deen were such good people with a wonderful sense of humour and – along with Altair – they were a great counterweight to Zafira and Nasir’s closed-off, independent natures. There was an event that happened when Zafira first arrived at the island that I thought didn’t seem to bother her that much, but I believe the author did this intentionally to show Zafira’s closed-off personality.
I genuinely loved this book and could gush on and on about everything that happens but spoilers. I’d heard it was good, but this incredibly polished writing and intricate yet simple magic system made this book go from good to epic. I give it 5/5, I loved this book, it is now one of my favourites and I’m so proud I have a signed, hardcover edition. I can’t wait to read the next instalment in the series or anything else by Hafsah Faizal; she is a naturally talented writer who has undoubtedly put in years and years to honing her craft.