Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

#19 Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Copyright 1999
Harper Perennial Fantasy
250 pages
Finished 2/19/08

We are set in fast-forward mode, here. I spotted azaleas, forsythia and Japanese magnolias in bloom, today. These are April bloomers, so obviously Mother Nature is totally whacked up. But, that's another story. Since I've been an errand-running fool and have not had the time or inclination to do the major organization that's apparently required to locate the missing calendar, I'm going to start working my way backwards on book reviews. Hence, the review of Stardust, which I just finished reading last night.

What led you to pick up this book? It's probably all Chris's fault. Let's blame Chris. The truth, however, is that Stardust was the closest book to hand when I was stuck on the futon with a cat warming my lap.

Summarize the plot but don't give away the ending. I'll defer to the cover blurb on this one:

Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria--even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristan learns, lies Faerie--where nothing, not even a fallen star, is what he imagined.
. . . A remarkable quest into the dark and miraculous--in pursuit of love and the utterly impossible.

What did you like most about the book? I thought it was a well-wrought and very fun grown-up fairy tale with a decent blend of good versus evil, a rather likeable hero (if a bit too mild, at times) and a wonderful, adventurous setting. I loved the little town of Wall and its people. Actually, there's very little about this book that I disliked.

What did you think of the characters? Tristran was mild-mannered to the point that he was very close to being branded a wimp by yours truly, but he was tremendously courageous when challenged and the character grew in the classic way. I liked him. The star, Yvaine, was understandably grumpy (it would definitely hurt to fall to earth from the sky) and the interaction between the two was humorous and lively. The witches were easy to hate. Very well done, I'd say, Mr. Gaiman.

Share a favorite scene from the book: I'm quite fond of the scene in which Tristran is trying to convince Victoria that he will go anywhere and give her anything to win her hand:

"I would go to Africa, and bring you diamonds the size of cricket balls. I would find the source of the Nile and name it after you. I would go to America--all the way to San Francisco, to the gold-fields, and I would not come back until I had your weight in gold. Then I would carry it back here, and lay it at your feet. I would travel to the distant northlands did you but say the word, and slay the mighty polar bears, and bring you back their hides."

"I think you were doing quite well," said Victoria Forester," until you got to the bit about slaying polar bears."

In general:
An enchanting fairy tale and the best Gaiman work I've read, thus far.

All right, Gaiman fans, we're at 50/50, here. Neverwhere is going to be the acid test, when I get to it. Does she love Gaiman or not? She cannot yet say. But, Stardust is definitely a point in his favor.

Yes, yes, headaches and shorted out neurons and all that. Thumbs up.

Coming up . . . Wahoo! Wednesday. But, I have to go. Again. I love my new car and all, but sometimes I'd just like to be able to walk rather than hop into the car every whip-stitch because there are no freaking sidewalks, everything is miles of twisty roads apart and the loose dogs would happily take a chunk from either of my ankles (they did, in fact, once take a chunk out of the cat's hindquarters). This would be one reason I'd have stayed in England if I were Neil, but that's just me. Plus, I really like sheep and things like bits of Roman walls and castles.

Nobody actually knows where any of that came from. If you do not fear the crazy lady, feel free to return for some wahoos, later this evening.


  1. Don't talk to me about spring blooms! We went from 11 (F) at midnight to -7 (F) at 8 am to a high of 9 (F) at 4 pm. I have never felt so cold in my entire life! Well, yes I have, but today I simply couldn't shake that chill. Brrrrrrrr. I can't imagine standing outside to take pictures of the moon. I'll have to wait for your pix.

    About the lack of sidewalks... perhaps you should get a dog! ;)

    I have yet to read anything by Gaiman.

  2. LOL! You're too funny.

    Great review! I loved the movie.

  3. I would've stayed in England too if I were Neil...but he seems to have found a nice place here...nothing like that here in the south! So glad you liked it! I think you'll like Neverwhere as well. I loved it! I'm listening to it on audiobook right now actually and it's read by Neil Gaiman and it's so good! He has a great reading voice. Hope your headaches go away :( And hope that calendar turns up!

  4. Les,

    Don't talk to me about frozen weather without pollen! Grrr. Trade ya.

    Oh, so you're thinking moon thoughts. I took photos of that beautiful full moon, last night, but there were some troublesome clouds blocking the view of the eclipse. 2 years till the next full eclipse! Argh!

    If I were to acquire a dog, it would have a fence and it would stay inside the fence, except when I took it out for walks. And, it would be either a loveable, friendly beagle or a smart-aleck border collie (but it would have to have something to herd and I have no idea what -- maybe a litter of kittens would do, but I think they dislike being herded). Yes, yes, I know you were kidding. :)

    I don't know if you'd like Gaiman. I'm still considering him. I'm thinking he's a bit like the nursery rhyme; when he's good he's very, very good and when he's bad he's awful. But, I'm not certain just yet.


    Thank you, my dear. I loved the movie, too. I got it for Valentine's Day and was planning to wait till I finished the book to watch it, but the kiddo coerced me into watching. It was great.

  5. Chris,

    I think I would love to hear Neverwhere on audio, especially read by the man, himself. There's nothing quite like a good British narrator/reader.

    Still fighting the headache, but I kind of expected it because I just went off a preventive. It was helping hold back the migraines a bit, but it was also turning my lips a bit blue and making me a lethargic pudding of a former woman. Amazing how much energy I suddenly have acquired (along with the pain). I'm not going to make a "can't win" comment. Nope, not gonna do it.

  6. " It's probably all Chris's fault. Let's blame Chris"

    OK - sounds good to me. That would make a great bumper sticker "Let's Blame Chris"


  7. SuziQ,

    You are either a nut or a marketing genius.

    Frankie Says Relax
    Let's Blame Chris

    I can visualize the t-shirts, already.

  8. Hey! I'm being made into a bumper sticker now?! ;)

    I've gotten off of preventatives before too and ended up with the migraines from really is a no win situation sometimes. My doctor started me on Depakote about 2 months ago though and that has been working really well for me. It's also used to treat bipolar disorder, so Lord knows what that's saying. I stayed on the Topamax too, but she lowered my dosage a lot...the high dosage was hell with the pins and needles and I was irritated ALL the time. Much better now. I'm glad to hear you're less lethargic now, but I'm sorry to hear your headaches are back up again :( What a pain!! Don't you just feel like screaming "there has to be an answer" sometimes?

  9. Yes, Chris, you are now officially bumper sticker material. How cool is that?

    This is actually the first time any med has worked well enough that taking myself off of it threw me into a migraine from hell. I think that might just mean I'm a lost cause. I hope not.

    I started out with pins and needles on Topamax and graduated to feeling like I was walking on broken glass. It was horrible! Sorry that didn't fully work out for you. If the Depakote helps, that's great. I think all it means is that brain chemicals are a tangled web that nobody has quite unraveled, yet. Yes, I want to scream.

  10. I have heard such great things about this book, but I'm reluctant to pick it up since I've seen the movie. I've found that if I really really enjoy the movie and then try to read the book, I'm a little let down (I usually read the book before watching the movie and am disappointed in the movie). Big Fish was a disappointing book after seeing Tim Burton's take.

    I'm torn!! :)

  11. We need to get someone to make a button or banner that says "Let's Blame Chris" and we can all put it somewhere on our blogs.

    and yes, I'm a nut, I thought you knew that already.

  12. I think seeing the movie first ruined the book for me. I loved the STARDUST movie and went to get the book soon after. I just didn't like the book. I can't put my finger on the reason why. But it's still a wonderful story.

  13. Trish,

    I used to have that problem, then I started to read scripts and books, side-by-side and compare the two. It's really quite fascinating what stays and what goes, which characters are altered and how. If you look at it that way, "Oh, say, there were two people guarding the wall in the book. I wonder why they switched to one?" and use the comparison to analyze why those changes were made, it can be rather fun. But, I think you'd best stick with the movie, actually. It's a little more palatable and fun, in my humble opinion.


    That would be a hoot! And, yes, I knew you're a little bit of a nut. Pirate Bendy is my friend. :)


    Kiddo coerced me into watching the movie when I was about halfway through the book. I actually do like the movie better, although there were a few bits and pieces that I thought were better in the book. I think if I'd watched the movie first, I'd have felt the same way you do.

  14. I've been waffling about reading this book for a long time. I love fairy tales and all, but have been sort of iffy about Gaiman (50/50 here too...American Gods was OK and I loved Coraline). Will definitely give this one a go in light of your review.

  15. Andi,

    I think Gaiman has an interesting following because of his success in the comic book field and maybe that distorts things a bit. He has a great imagination but maybe not the best writing ability, IOW. My opinion. :) I did enjoy Stardust. Coraline was so-so. I think Stardust is worth a read. If you do read it, I'll look forward to your thoughts.

  16. If my cat comes and settles on my lap while I'm watching TV, I'll stay until he's ready to leave even if I'm done watching whatever show or movie I was watching. :-)

    I am glad to hear you enjoyed Stardust. I also liked it quite a bit. I would have to agree with you about Tristran.

  17. As one of the Gaiman fans, I'm glad you liked this one. I thought it was a wonderful fairy tale, and my kids loved the movie!!

  18. Wendy,

    I do that, too, although depending upon where I'm stuck and who happens to be nearby, I often end up getting someone to fetch me some reading material. When I no longer have children around, I'll most likely become a weird old cat lady.

    Oh, good, I'm glad you agree about both Stardust and its hero. He was a little odd in his contrasts, but I liked him.


    I was actually kind of relieved to finally find a Gaiman story that I truly loved. Although, there was that short story, Chivalry -- that one still makes me smile when I think about it.

    My youngster said the movie was "quite good, actually" and he made me watch it before I finished the book; I couldn't help but compare the two, yet I really liked both.

  19. Even though I really liked "Neverwhere," I thought "Stardust" was much better. And I liked the movie as well. It would be great to listen to Gaiman narrate "Neverwhere." An intriguing idea. Anyway, great review. I totally agree.

  20. Framed,

    I'm glad to hear you liked Neverwhere, even though you enjoyed Stardust more. Your opinion gives me hope. :)


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