Review: To Steal the Sun (The Jeweled Lands #1) by S.M. Carter

MY ⭐️ RATING: 2.5/5

Format: Kindle Whispersync

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BOOK DESCRIPTION

When Raik, the most cunning smuggler this side of the desert, finds where the Ivory King vaults his magical runes-he builds a crew to execute an
elaborate heist.

Among them is Kahli Mahanta, a religious assassin with blind ambition. A young rogue, Kirin, with wit sharper than his arrows ought to be. And Amara, the so-called Nightspirit, whose raven-hair
conceals even darker secrets.

It won't be easy. They're opposed by the curved blades of the magic-deranged, watched by a paranoid king, and hunted by gaunt beasts that click in the cold desert night... All the while discovering that trusting each other might be the most dangerous mission of all.

To Steal The Sun is a tale of unlikely heroes thrust together in a new refreshing fantasy. One cast in vibrant silks, fragrant spice, and the relentless glare of a radiant sun.

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MY REVIEW

I really wanted to love this novel, and it breaks my heart that I didn’t, and even more so, that I’m leaving a bad review for it because I hate writing them and almost decided to not write one at all and just leave it be. But because I am a book blogger and I backed the Kickstarter campaign that came with a nice hardcover edition, a coin and a set of Rackna dice (pictured below), purchased the ebook and audiobook, I felt obligated to put my honest feelings out there so that people know I’m not just trying to leave only good reviews. Another reason this hurts to do is that the author just seems like a genuinely nice person from the few interactions I had with him, and his video updates during the Kickstarter campaign.

With that said, this is Mr. Carter’s South Asian inspired debut novel, and maybe some of the criticisms I mention later can be worked on in later novels. The cover art is something that instantly had me hooked, it’s so well done and helps transport you into the world. To Steal the Sun is a character driven, epic fantasy heist novel with multiple POV’s. The POV’s help with character building as it used flashbacks at the beginning to tell the stories of the very flawed characters of Kahli, Amara and Raik as they make their way to their destination for the heist. I decided to buy the ebook and audio so that I could Whispersync this rather than just read it. I thought that the narrator, Ulka Simone Mohanty, did a tremendous job of her varying voices for each character as well as getting into the emotions of each of them as well. I liked that it also had a tinge of humor in it as well, it was nice to break some of it up with a few giggle worthy lines.

“The most powerful force in the world is knowing what people want to believe and convincing them they’re right.”

What I didn’t like about this starts off with the comparison that the author gave. “Ocean’s 11 meets Game of Thrones & Six of Crows meets Rage of Dragons with a healthy dose of Indian spice.” It has some court intrigue, and that’s about all I can say that To Steal the Sun resembles GoT and RoD. Seeing a comp with those two I expected to see dragons, there was none. The Ocean’s 11 and Six of Crows comp makes some sense as they are heist novels/movie/show. The reason I say “some sense” is that Ocean’s 11 is more plot driven and Six of Crows is a bit more of a mix of plot/character, and TSTS is far more of a character driven novel that also has a heist in it. For those reasons I think the comps are a bit misleading.

I also had an issue with the dialogue between the characters, as it felt unnatural and very weak most of the time which made it hard for me to connect with any of the characters or care about their motivations. There were a lot of dramatic interruptions, not sure if that’s the correct terminology, but it’s where the character is speaking and is interrupted or stops for dramatic effect. Ex: “I can’t get any —-. Khali didn’t let her finish.” This happened at least 5 times to my recollection. Once or twice is fine, but in my opinion, that’s too many times. The world building was very limited, and took a backseat to the character building/development the same way that the heist plot did to the characters, and it mainly relies on basic descriptions for the reader to fill in the gaps of what South Asian culture would look like. There was also something I’ve never experienced before, I don’t know if it’s bad, odd or just something different, the author decided to add sound effects for arrows flying “thsssst” and scissors being used “snip-snip.”

I wish all the best to Mr. Carter and the people at RAID press in their future novels.

3 Comments

  1. That cover is pretty cool. Too bad the contents weren’t better. But to be honest, 2.5stars for a self-pubbed debut is what I would expect nowadays, so not as bad as it could be.

    Modesitt would use word noises in a lot of his earlier books, especially the Recluce ones where someone is eating, or thinking about eating…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is actually the lowest rated debut I’ve read. The lowest previously might be 4/5.
      Now, I’m pretty picky on what I read, so that could be a big reason for that.
      Even with ARC’s, if I don’t like the synopsis, I won’t touch it.
      But this, I got sold on the awesome cover and the comp of Ocean’s 11 meets GoT.

      Looking at other reviews on GR, I’m the only one so far to put such a low rating on it

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lucky you then 😀
        I used to run across trash from indies all the time, until I pretty much stopped reading them. Might miss out on a few jewels but my average rating and personal satisfaction went way up!

        Plus, whenever I see a book/series/author compare themselves to something else, I almost automatically run the other way.

        Devilreads is filled with shills and book hookers.

        Sorry to dump. I really didn’t mean to when I first commented. Feel free to delete this if necessary.

        Like

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