The Stardust Thief (The Sandsea Trilogy #1) – Chelsea Abdullah

Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Orbit Books
Pages: 480
Release Date: May 17, 2022

Inspired by stories from One Thousand and One NightsThe Stardust Thief weaves the gripping tale of a legendary smuggler, a cowardly prince, and a dangerous quest across the desert to find a legendary, magical lamp.

Neither here nor there, but long ago…

Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp that has the power to revive the barren land—at the cost of sacrificing all jinn.

With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan’s oldest son to find the artifact. Aided by her bodyguard, who has secrets of his own, they must survive ghoul attacks, outwit a vengeful jinn queen, and confront a malicious killer from Loulie’s past. And, in a world where story is reality and illusion is truth, Loulie will discover that everything—her enemy, her magic, even her own past—is not what it seems, and she must decide who she will become in this new reality. 

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The Stardust Thief is the first novel in a trilogy that is sure to make a lot of readers’ best books of 2022. It’s rife with interesting characters, deep lore, and stories of magic and jinn sprinkled throughout creating a world that feels lived in and used.

I would recommend The Stardust Thief to fans of Chakraborty’s The Daevabad Trilogy. Both have similar settings and well developed characters, however The Stardust Thief is slightly more magical with less politics.

The Stardust Thief is an Arab fantasy told from three perspectives: Loulie, a criminal merchant, Aisha, a member of the king’s thieves, and Mazen, the king’s son. Each perspective offers a different look at the world and its rules. Loulie was easily my favourite character followed by Mazen then Aisha. Though Loulie annoyed me at times, she felt real and wasn’t infallible despite being the main character. This created an air of unpredictability throughout the novel.

There were so many twists and turns throughout the novel that I never saw coming. The end of the novel is exciting as the truth is revealed leaving the characters uncertain of their future. The Stardust Thief also ends on a fairly significant cliff hanger with new information that was fairly obvious by the end if you were paying attention.

Overall, The Stardust Thief is an excellent introduction to The Sandsea Trilogy rife with interesting characters and intricate world building made real with in-world stories and jinn magic.

*** I received an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Will you be reading The Stardust Thief?

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