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Stardust (novel)

A fantasy for adults written by Neil Gaiman and with illustrations by Charles Vess, published as both a novel and a graphic novel.

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An old fashioned Fairy Tale without the PC nonsense

  • Nov 20, 2008
  • by
Okay, maybe not the kind of Fairy Tale you would read to your very young children, but after delving through horror and dark fantasy, I found Stardust to be a refreshing, childlike break; minus the hangover of feeling like I was exposed to an excess of sugar and cotton candy. After all, Fairy tales used to be a bit brutal in their own right, and taking away all of the blood and violence in order to conform to today's "Politically Correct" standards also takes away from the lesson to be learned. IMHO.

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!

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

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More Stardust: Being A Romance With... reviews
Quick Tip by . April 09, 2011
If you've only seen the film, Stardust the book (widely available as both a graphic novel and a novel) is quite different in tone. The story is a creatively dark fantasy adventure for adults (there is some gruesome violence, a couple instances of sex, and brief strong language) that tells a fairly bittersweet story of romance and love. The main characters all experience a great deal of hardship and tragedy and while lessons are learned and they ultimately are better people for it, they …
Quick Tip by . July 06, 2010
This book is just fun fantasy. Different from the movie, but not in feel.
Quick Tip by . July 04, 2010
An enjoyable read
Quick Tip by . June 28, 2010
Dark and whimsical. Lovely.
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
Delightful, though the writing can be a touch pompous.
review by . February 15, 2010
I'm one of those folks who saw the movie first.    I was quite surprised Neil Gaiman would write such a 'light' story as was presented in the movie. I'd read his 'American Gods' before because it was touted 'as good as Stephen King' or my money back.    It was as good, in my opinion, but that also meant his writing was on the dark side.    When I picked up Stardust I expected something that was more of a YA fantasy read, but it's definitely …
Quick Tip by . June 09, 2010
So much better then the movie
review by . July 23, 2009
When Tristran Thorn is sent on a quest to find a falling star by his ladylove Victoria Forrester, little did he know of the magical adventure that would ensue.    After falling in love with the film, and being acquainted with other Gaiman works over the past year, I had high expectations for this novel. But sadly, I must confess, I actually liked the film better - which was quite a surprise to me. Don't take me wrong, I enjoyed this book immensely, but the film just left out …
review by . July 23, 2008
Tristran Thorn would do absolutely anything to win pretty Victoria Forrester's heart. Even venture across The Wall into mysterious Faerie in search of a fallen star. But once he enters Faerie, mysterious things happen. Tristran knows the location of every place in the land. He meets a strange, small man who gives him a candle that allows him to travel great distances. And when he finally finds the fallen star, Tristran discovers that it is not a lump of rock like he thought, but a young woman, who …
review by . August 04, 2007
Stardust is a delightful little story of a boy who, in order to win the hand of the girl he loves, goes on a quest to recover a fallen star. He's promised the girl that he will return with the particular star they saw together to prove his love, and she promises his heart's desire if he returns with the item. Seems like a fairly straightforward task, right? Of course it's not! Because the star has fallen into Faerie, the land beyond the gap in the wall of the town of Wall, and no one's gone through …
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About this book


Stardust (1998) is the first solo prose novel by Neil Gaiman. It is usually published as a novel with illustrations by Charles Vess. Stardust has a different tone and style from most of Gaiman's prose fiction, being consciously written in the tradition of pre-Tolkien English fantasy, following in the footsteps of authors such as Lord Dunsany and Hope Mirrlees. It is concerned with the adventures of a young man from the village of Wall, which borders the magical land of Faerie.
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Author: Neil Gaiman, Charles Vess
Genre: Fantasy, Comics & Graphic Novels
Publisher: Vertigo, DC Comics, HarperCollins
Date Published: 1998
Format: Novel & Graphic novel
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