A fantasy for adults written by Neil Gaiman and with illustrations by Charles Vess, published as both a novel and a graphic novel.< read all 19 reviews
This tale is told with a simple exuberance, yet manages to hold up under the scrutiny of all us die hard Neil Gaiman fans, showing us that he has the talent to lead us along gentler slopes of the same deadly peaks and chasms he has taken us to in his other works. His playfulness shows through in Stardust as a novel, the way his chapbooks "Wolves In The Walls" and "The Day I Swapped My Dad For 2 Goldfish" did with his graphic novels.
Tristin Thorn lives in the English town of Wall, right next to, well, the Wall. There is only one way through the Wall, a gap which is constantly guarded by the village folk of Wall; not to keep people from coming in, but to keep the inhabitants of Wall from crossing over into the land of Faerie. Once every nine years there is a huge fair within the field beyond the gap, and only then do the peoples from each of the lands mingle. Tristin is not aware that half of his lineage is from across the Wall, and when the day comes that he watches a falling star with the girl he wishes to marry, and promises to bring her back that very same star, his father Dunstan helps him to cross the gap into Faerie.
Over in Faerie, it is time for the Lord of Stormhold to die, and pass along his Reign to one of his sons. Unable to determine which of his surviving sons is worthy, the old Lord tosses the Power of Stormhold (a topaz set in an amulet) up into the air and tells his sons that whoever finds the amulet will rule after him. This won't be easy for the offspring of the old Lord, for already four of his seven sons were dead, killed off by the living brothers in order to eliminate their claim to Stormhold.
Also in Faerie live the Lilim, three ancient women who have lived on and on for forever, revitalizing their youth by eating the hearts from fallen stars. When the star falls, one of the ancient crones makes herself young again and sets out after the star.
Tristin is helped along in his quest by some, and treated rudely by others, but always manages to get along by determination and, surprisingly, innocence. When he is transported by a magic candle to where the star had fallen, he is shocked to see that the Fallen Star is a girl, and she has a broken leg to boot.
The adventures of Tristin in his journey back to The Wall and the market within the field are magical, fantastical, and sometimes just a tiny bit scary. Though the plot really does have a transparent ending, it still does not take away from the total enjoyment of Tristin's adventures and the predicaments he falls in and out of. All of the main characters coalesce in the ending, but the side characters we meet along the way are just as fleshed out and real to me as Tristin, Yvaine the Star, and Madame Semele with her mysterious bird.
Go ahead and step through the Gap with Tristin, you won't be sorry you tagged along. Enjoy!
What did you think of this review?