Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Posted On 8 October 2012

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Just finished reading Stardust by Neil Gaiman.  I loved this book – now, I genuinely don’t know whether it’s just that I’m made up with Neil Gaiman who seems able to do no wrong for me or not but I just fell right into this story and was absorbed until the end.  Gaiman has such a great way with words and manages to tell a fairy story that is different and aimed at an adult audience.

Stardust brings to us Tristan Thorn.  Tristan was born as a result of one night’s passion between Dunstan Thorn and a not entirely human slave he meets one night when he goes to the Market over the wall.  Nine months later Dunstan receives a little bundle of job – left, almost, on his doorstep.

The Village of Wall is a sheltered and olde world Victorian village with old fashioned ways and customs.  The Village is nestled right up alongside The Wall (for which it is probably named) beyond which are strange comings and goings.  Beyond the Wall is where Tristan must go to bring back a falling star for his lady love.  He’s about to embark on a strange adventure with no end of imagination.  If you can imagine it, it’s probably in this book.

I love the way that Gaiman brings together a fairy story without it seeming like a cliche.  We have Wall – and beyond we have this strange world where anything can happen.  Just like in your childhood stories – Once upon a time, over the hill and far away….  It’s just brilliant.  Puts me in mind of Norrell and Strange – where the strange world of the fey once was known to us but the paths to it have now been lost – the paths beyond the wall remain but few tread there without a purpose.  Once every nine years a market appears in the meadow beyond the wall and at this point the residents of the village mingle with the strange and unknown.

This is only a short book and yet Gaiman manages to make us care about the people he writes about.  I’m not quite sure how he does this.  There are no lengthy explanations, no great wordy descriptions or info dumps and yet quite clearly we have a firm idea of the place and a distinct liking for the characters that populate it – whether they are make believe or not and whether they only play a fleeting part or a more substantial role.  Tristan is decidedly naive but is quite refreshingly honest and likeable.  Yvaine (the fallen star) is brusque and sharp tongued – although I think anybody would be a bit naffed off under similar circumstances.

Alongside this we have two other stories running – which are all about to coincide.  We have the Lilim.  Three ancient witch like creatures who are older than the hills.  They seek the star for the purity of her heart which will renew their youth.  We also have the remaining heirs of Stormhold – in a desperate race to find the fallen star first and retrieve the Topaz she carries which will give them the right to rule.

The action is fairly fast paced and brings to us creatures and myths along the way, the unicorn and the lion, flying pirates who seek lightning storms and talking trees to name but a few.

There’s plenty more to read about and is all very entertaining.  It did put me in mind of The Book of Lost Things -not that the stories are the same but they’re both about young men who become embroiled in a fantastic journey and also they’re both coming of age stories.

I loved it and would happily read it again.  Also, the book I was reading had a short story that Gaiman wrote before Stardust, a story that starts with a young girl and seven magpies.  The book also included an interview which I really enjoyed reading – it just contained intriguing little snippets – like the copper beech tree in the story being created for Tori Amos.  I only hope that one day Gaiman will return and finish his magpie story.

I’m including this in my RIP event.  It’s fantasy and although I admit it isn’t really dark fantasy it is adult and there are some definite elements that could warrant it’s inclusion.  I’m thinking of the particular parts of the story that focus on the witch – who isn’t exactly a sweet and cuddly character!

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22 Responses to “Stardust by Neil Gaiman”

  1. Amy

    I liked this one too but I’m also a Gaiman fan and always find something to love about his books. There’s something sweet, and a little dark, about this story. It felt familiar and fresh at the same time for me.

    • lynnsbooks

      I know! It was great – but I’m turning into some sort of Gaiman geek!
      lynn 😀

  2. Carol

    I was so-so on this one, although I do love Gaiman. I actually am going to see him speak in November and can’t wait.

    • lynnsbooks

      Now I’m jealous! I’m turning into a Gaiman geek. I wasn’t sure if I’d like this one and I have heard mixed reviews from people who I chat too regularly. I did really enjoy it though. I just like Gaiman’s turn of phrase and the way he just has such a great imagination. Also, he doesn’t try to explain everything.
      Lynn 😀

  3. nrlymrtl

    If I had to choose a favorite Gaiman novel, I was be hardpressed to pick between Star Dust and American Gods. I am glad you enjoyed this novel as much as I.

    • lynnsbooks

      I really enjoyed this. Gaiman is brilliant. Who can tell a basic fairytale, for adults, but make it so enchanging? I’m still saving American Gods and The Sandman – so much to look forward to yet.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Redhead

    I love Stardust. I’m right there with nrlymrtl, that my favorite Gaimans are Stardust and American Gods. isn’t it amazing what Gaiman can do with rather simple prose and a few fairy tales piled on top one another? truly incredibly amazing!

    have you seen the movie they made a few years ago? As a whole, I thought it was just OK, but the scenes with the heirs of Stormhold are simply brilliant.

    • lynnsbooks

      I actually thought the film was okay although it didn’t seem to be very popular. I agree about the ghost scenes – really clever completely whiting them out like that and also exactly how they are described in the book. I also though Pffeifer played a pretty good witch. There were a few changes to the film though and in this instance, without a doubt, the book is far superior. American Gods is sat next to my bed – waiting! I’m almost scared to read it in case I don’t like it!!
      Lynn 😀

  5. MissMeliss

    It’s funny. I love Stardust and Neverwhere, but I couldn’t get into American Gods at ALL. Love that you’ve included this as part of RIP – I think it counts!

    • lynnsbooks

      Oh thanks for that – I was worried people wouldn’t think it would fit the categories. I haven’t read American Gods yet – I have this scary sense of anticipation – so many people who I know love it and then there are also people who really don’t. I want to love it – because I’ve loved all of his others so I’m almost putting it off. I will definitely read it but I’m waiting until I have some proper sit down time.
      Lynn 😀

  6. TBM

    I haven’t read this one yet. I only started reading Gaiman this past spring and I’m hooked on him.

    • lynnsbooks

      I know! I’m hooked to. I’ve even broken into comics which I’ve never really done before just so that I can read The Sandman!
      Lynn 😀

  7. jessicabookworm

    I really liked this book until the end…which I found really depressing if I’m honest. Haven’t been brave enough to read anything solely by Gaiman since either in case its the same. Although his collaboration with Terry Pratchett Good Omens I thought was great.

    • lynnsbooks

      My curiosity is stirred – why did you find it depressing? I’m desperately scouring my brains now to think if I had any depressing moments at the conclusion. I think I’ve probably just had a light bulb moment – I won’t put it in the comment thought as it relates to the end so would definitely be a spoiler!
      Lynn 😀

      • jessicabookworm

        Yeah it would definitely be a spoiler, in which case you’ve probably guessed right about what I found depressing lol!

  8. spidermonkeycat

    I love Stardust the movie. I’m so going to put the book in my reading list! 😀

    • lynnsbooks

      The movie was pretty good and actually was fairly faithful to the book – although there were a few little tweaks here and there and I think they changed the ending as well.
      Lynn 😀

  9. cherylmahoney

    This is such a fun and beautiful book! I love the movie too. 🙂

    • lynnsbooks

      I also liked the movie – it had a few changes to the book but I like the way it brought the village Wall and also what was beyond Wall to life.
      Lynn 😀

  10. Rachel

    I liked the movie but luckily it’s been such a long time since seeing the movie that I don’t have very many fixed ideas of what Stardust the book should be about. Sounds like a good time to read the book to me! I’ll probably be starting it pretty soon.

    Thanks for the interesting review!

    • lynnsbooks

      The movie stays fairly faithful to the book although there are some changes and I think the ending is different.
      They’re both good though.
      Lynn 😀

  11. They seek him here, they seek him there.. | Lynn's Book Blog

    […] Stardust by Neil Gaiman – I’m thinking of a female, sometimes who takes the shape of a bird, who wears a chain that keeps her enslaved to a witch. […]

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