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Neil Gaiman

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (2 Reviews)
Book Details

Publisher : Headline Book Publishing

Published : 1999

Copyright : Neil Gaiman 1999

ISBN-10 : PB 0-75532-282-7
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-75532-282-4

Publisher's Write-Up

In the sleepy English countryside at the dawn of the Victorian era, life moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall. Young Tristran Thorn has lost his heart to the beautiful Victoria Forester, but Victoria is cold and distant as the star she and Tristan see fall from the sky one evening. For the prize of Victoria's hand, Tristan vows to retrieve the star for his beloved. It is an oath that sends the lovelorn swain over the town's ancient wall and into a world that is dangerous and strange beyond imagining...

From his groundbreaking graphic novel series The Sandman to his bestselling novel Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman's startling imagination has manifested itself in strange and sublimely inventive fiction. Stardust is his most enchanting tale yet.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Nadine (221207) Rating (9/10)
Review by Crystal (250305) Rating (9/10)

Review by Nadine
Rating 9/10
Many years ago in the magical land of Faerie, a dying king threw a jewel from a high window in his castle. He instructed his sons to search for it, as the first to find it would become the next king. However, he threw the jewel so high that it struck a star, knocking it from the sky. The star's fall was witnessed not only by the princes, but also by a coven of ancient and malicious witches. The matter was of great interest to them as a fallen star has highly desirable magical properties. It was also of great interest to Tristran Thorn, a young man from an ordinary Victorian village which borders the land of Faerie. Trying to impress the girl of his dreams, he claimed that he could retrieve the fallen star and bring it to her. She replied that when he did so, she would marry him.

But when a star falls and lands in Faerie, it does not transform into a lump of scorched, dead rock as it does in our world. It retains its true form, to Tristran's very great surprise. Also, it doesn't occur to him that he might not be the only one looking for it until he is already knee-deep in adventure.

It sounds like a pretty typical fairy tale, doesn't it? But this is by Neil Gaiman... which immediately suggests a kind of grim originality behind the slightly formulaic premise; Stardust delivers exactly that. There is magic in it, and ghosts and witches and a young nobody on a quest for his true destiny... so, yes, it's a fairy tale. But the plot and style and characters are about as far removed from Cinderella as you can get.

This is undoubtedly a fairy tale for adults, although all the elements that we loved as children are still there - a gripping adventure, likeable (and loathsome) characters, and fascinating details about a strange and wonderful world. These details really show off the author's flair for imagination. Coming up with just one fantasy idea that hasn't been done before is no mean feat, and this book is packed with them. But the humour is aimed firmly at grown-up readers, as are many scenes and situations. Nothing is there purely to function as a “Children Keep Out” sign, but Neil Gaiman doesn't shy away from details that make his characters and situations more believable. For example, no grown up is ever going to believe that the evil witch is really all that evil if the best she can come up with is a poisoned apple. So here she is absolutely vile, and the feuding princes achieve levels of murderous brutality that spill over into comedy. Every description is darkly fanciful yet realistic, complete with blood, bad language and bodily functions.

In short, it's no girly love story. Love is certainly a theme, but the dreamy head-in-the-clouds variety favoured by traditional tales is almost parodied here, and the practical, lasting variety triumphs. It's sweet but not sickly, and the emphasis is on the adventure and the magic rather than the romance.

You know a book is good when the only criticism you can make is that it should have been longer, but there were a few details that I would have loved to see expanded. There were references to some (admittedly minor) events during Tristran's journey that sounded like they would have been rather fun to delve into, and one particular character who I was rather fond of was lost from the storyline with no explanation of where he came from or what happened to him afterwards. On the whole, though, there was a sense of all the characters having a past. It felt as if they didn't just pop into existence on page one, but were there getting on with their lives before I started eavesdropping. It was very pleasant to read, and cleverly done without reams and reams of Lord of the Rings type back-story.

I really want to go and see the film, but I couldn't go without reading the book first (reading the book afterwards is just wrong.) I might never have got around to reading it, otherwise. So I'm very grateful to Paramount Pictures for giving me a reason to get on with it because I would have missed out on a real gem. One of those lovely books that had me lapping up every word, and sometimes reading passages twice because they were just so good, and that left me with a wistful smile on my face and thinking “I wish I could do that.”
Nadine (22nd December 2007)

Review by Crystal
Rating 9/10
Tristan is no ordinary person, although he doesn't know it. His mother is a faerie woman who his father met at the fair on the other side of the wall. There are strange unexplainable things at this fair. It only happens every nine years and everyone in the town attends.

When Tristan is seventeen he falls in love with Victoria, but she will only marry him if he brings her a fallen star. The search for this star takes Tristan on an adventure through the land on the other side of the wall. Although, when he finds it, he did not expect it to be a girl with a broken leg.

This book has witches, little men, unicorns and chains that are 'fashioned of cat's breath and fish-scales and moon-light mixed in with silver'. I haven't read a book like this since I was a child. I really enjoyed it. It whisked me away into a bizarre, yet enchanting, world.
Crystal (25th March 2005)

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