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The Stardust Thief (The Sandsea Trilogy #1) by Chelsea Abdullah Review - An atmospheric & brilliant read

Read Time: 6 minutes
Published On: February 5, 2024
The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah

The Stardust Thief is the first installment by Chelsea Abdullah in her The Sandsea Trilogy

About "The Stardust Thief"

Author: Chelsea Abdullah

Series: The Sandsea Trilogy #1

Publisher: Orbit Publishing

Genre: Adult Fantasy, Retelling

Page Number: 468 pages

Audible Listening Time: 15 hours 38 mins

Goodreads Rating: 4.02/5

My Rating: 4/5

Plot - 4/5

Loulie, a legendary thief renowned by the name ‘Midnight Merchant’, is given an impossible task. She has been ordered by the Sultan himself to find a magical lamp that has a Jinn King trapped inside who will serve its master upon call.

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Art by @sashadowart

Loulie, along with three other unusual companions, embarks on this journey of magic, mystery, and enchantment. Mazen, the second son of the Sultan, along with Aisha, one of the forty thieves of the first son of the Sultan, are more enemies than travel companions to Loulie.

But she has another person whom she can count on fearlessly. Qadir, a Jinn that no one knows about, also accompanies them on this vast, impossible journey.

I love how the plot of The Stardust Thief draws inspiration from different stories in One Thousand and One Nights and combines them perfectly to build a narrative around it. The plot revolves around these four people and their personal stories. I love how each of them has been focused upon almost equally to the point where you will sometimes not realize who the protagonist of the book is.

Characters - 4/5


I like Loulie’s character. She is a badass thief and dealer of Jinn artifacts. Her life turned upside down when her people were murdered. She made a life for herself with the help of Qadir and lives it on her terms. I liked all her scenes with all the other characters, especially Aisha.


Mazen is an average male character in The Stardust Thief. He has his own personal epiphanies throughout the book, but it’s not something that did anything to keep my interest. I was more intrigued by other characters.

Art by @mangomango


Aisha is my favorite character in The Stardust Thief. She shows the most growth throughout the book. She hates Jinns and wants to destroy them all to take revenge for her people, whom the Jinns mercilessly killed. She also is a loyal servant under Omar, the first son of the Sultan and Mazen’s brother. But Omar sometimes takes her servitude as slavery. She is one of the deadliest thieves in Omar’s group of forty thieves. By the end of the book, she begins to shine because of how far she has come.


Qadir is not focused on much as a character. His existence was made pleasant through his interaction with Loulie. But I can feel the potential of this character. I’m hoping the next book will give more for him to shine.

Worldbuilding - 5/5

The world-building is amazing in The Stardust Thief. The way it perfectly establishes the Kingdom and its politics is very commendable. It’s not that hard to understand, but it is enough to vividly imagine a world like this one. I loved the world-building.

Magic System - 4/5

The Stardust Thief has an above-average magic system. It’s a system that humans don’t understand fully yet, but it is a hard magic system. The magic system has not been revealed completely yet. The cliffhanger at the end of the book promises more things to come.

But it is interesting to me as it is in the first book itself. I’m happy with it and I like that I don’t have to think about it much.

Pacing - 4/5

The pacing of The Stardust Thief is great. It sometimes drags when they are traveling. But overall, it has great pacing. Also, The Stardust Thief is not necessarily long like some books where it’s so common to make it bigger than it needs to be.

Enjoyment - 5/5

Overall, I greatly enjoyed The Stardust Thief and will recommend that all fantasy readers read at least one. But I haven’t enjoyed it enough to anticipate the next book in the sequel a lot. When the sequel comes, I will read it if another book isn’t a priority.

Final Verdict - 4/5

Drawing inspiration from tales like One Thousand and One Nights, the plot weaves together the personal stories of its characters, each with their complexities and growth.

While Loulie shines as a charismatic protagonist and Aisha emerges as a standout character with significant development, Mazen and Qadir offer contrasting roles, leaving room for further exploration in future installments.

The world-building is rich and immersive, complemented by a promising magic system that hints at further depth to be unveiled. Despite occasional pacing issues during travel sequences, "The Stardust Thief" remains a compelling read, recommended for fantasy enthusiasts seeking an engaging adventure.

While not eagerly anticipating the sequel, readers will find satisfaction in the first installment's intricate narrative and well-crafted world.

Favourite Quotes from The Stardust Thief

“It is not weakness to rely on others for help,”

“The only difference between a hero and a coward is that one forgets their fear and fights, while the other succumbs to it and flees.”

“No one knows what the dead want, Loulie. All we can do is honor them in the ways we understand.”

“Sometimes we must make necessary stops before we reach our final destination.”

“Loyal wazir, one cannot know the outcome of a journey if one is not brave enough to take it.”

Amazon Blurb of "The Stardust Thief"

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.

Inspired by stories from One Thousand and One Nights The 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.

Buy "The Stardust Thief"

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