Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review: Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Title: Stardust
Author: Neil Gaiman
Series: N/A
Format: E-book (160 pages)
Release Date: first published: 1998, E-book published: June 13, 2009
Genre(s): Fantasy, Romance, Action/Adventure, YA



The fascinating and engaging new novel from Neil Gaiman, one of the premier writers of fantasy, is here. Stardust is a fantasy tale extravaganza, a mythical quest for love, starting with the heart's desire of a young man and his eventual travels throughout the world of Faerie. In the tradition of his Neverwhere and graphic novel The Books of Magic, Gaiman twines threads of several plotlines deftly together to form a Dunsanianlike fairy tale of fellowship, passion, and humanity's place in an always unpredictable and continuously changing, magical world. 

During the Victorian era, in the small village of Wall, a stone barrier separates our world from the land of Faerie. Although there is a break in the bulwark, which is constantly guarded by two townsmen with cudgels, there are hardly ever any troubles between the two realms. Once every nine years, during "the Market," villagers and outsiders are allowed to enter Faerie and sell, buy, and trade with the magical inhabitants. During the Market, young Dunstan Thorn is given his "heart's desire" and soon finds himself making love to an alluring but cursed faerie maiden.

Dunstan returns to Wall to marry Daisy Hempstock, but nine months later an infant is found at the crack in the barrier with a card pinned to its blanket reading: Tristan Thorn. Tristan grows to manhood as a human, but certain faerie features and abilities make themselves known. He falls in love with the standoffish Victoria Forester, and in the heat of a romantic moment promises her anything she might wish. As they watch a star fall toearth,Victoria jokingly promises that she will marry Tristan if he returns with the star.

True to his own oath, Tristan sets out to find the star for his beloved. Once in Faerie, his mystical heritage comes in handy as he recalls places and history that he's never been formally taught. However, Tristan isn't the only one hunting for the star, and his competitors are decidedly unfriendly. An ancient trio of witch-queens called the Lilim need the star's heart to add years of youth to their already near-immortal lives, and will stop at nothing to gain what they want. Also in search of the star are the three remaining devious and deadly sons of the Lord of Stormhold, for therein lies the power of their family. Eventually, though, Tristan discovers the fallen star, which appears as a lovely young woman with a broken leg, and though he's forced to take her with him against her will, he eventually becomes her sworn protector. Source

Plot: In Stardust, we follow Tristan who is the son of Dunstan and a cursed faerie. He grows up in a human village but is isolated because of his faerie characteristics. He falls for Victoria who he promises anything to in exchange for her hand. She tells him she would love a fallen star they both see and he sets out to claim it. Along the way, he finds he is not the only one who wants to retrieve the star. The story is a classic and definitely owns up to it. The pacing was not slow but gradual. I loved how the story switches from Tristan's father's life, to set up the story, and then flowed to Tristan to describe what has become of  Dunstan's "heart's desire". The village and Faerie seems like the divide for Tristan between where he believes is his life and where he truly belongs. I can't say much but I can believe why they call this book a classic.

Character(s): Tristan - I only really want to talk about Tristan because he is the only central character of the book. I loved how Neil created Tristan as a misfit but brave as well. I had the sense that Tristan knew he didn't belong in the village and I think finding the star was the way for him to find out where he belonged. I'm glad he still had love for his family, but also needed to find himself since he truly didn't fit with them completely. He is very naive and falls hard for people, but he means the best. At some points, he is very blind to what goes on around him and the feelings of others, but it is evident he would soon find out. I won't say any spoilers but when he does find out feelings, it seems...rushed. Like he saw the true feelings of both people and went with the one who favored him.
Cover: I don't know if this is the original cover, but it is gorgeous. I love the whimsical feel along with just the forest because it reminds me of Faerie.
Closing Thoughts: I'm giving this book a four out of four because it truly deserves nothing less. It is an amazing book to read because of the lessons it teaches you. I won't say what I learned because it seems like the type of book where you take away from it what you need to. This book has amazing characters and a fantasy world that is simplistic but beautifully described. If you're looking for a book with fantasy but also Old Age, then this is it.

Where to find Neil:

Peace and Fangs,

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