Book Review: ‘Stardust’ by Neil Gaiman

Posted: 12 November 2016 in Book reviews
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Wall seemed like a quaint little town in England, with the exception that just beyond the wall, from which the town received it’s name, lay the land of Faerie. A break in the wall leading into this land is under constant guard, which is only relaxed once every nine years for the Faerie Market. It was at this market that Dunstan Thorn met an enslaved woman selling glass flowers. Nine months later, he received an unexpected present.

18 years pass and Dunstan’s son Tristran has fallen in love with the beautiful Victoria Forester. He is willing to do anything for her love. One evening whilst walking her home, he is professing his love when they see a falling star. He tells her he will retrieve it for her to which she replies that she will give him whatever he desires if he does. He heads straight home and, with help from his father, leaves Wall and enters Faerie.

Finding the star proves more challenging than he imagined, but he is unwilling to give up. He earns the help a mysterious little man and soon locates the star. She is not what he expected. With single-minded determination, he captures her, Yvaine, and attempts to lead her back to Wall. She does everything in her power to thwart him, which nearly results in her death. For Tristran is not the only one searching for the star. He saves her from a witch who wants her heart, and a prince who wants something she possesses.

And so they travel together to Wall. With adventure and danger at every turn, something between them changes. So much, that when they arrive in the meadow outside of Wall Tristran in conflicted. Will he deliver the star as he promised his love, or has his heart changed?

My Thoughts

This is my second time reading this book. The first time was last year and I somehow forgot to write a post about it. After reading it a second time, words cannot express how much I love it. The movie is good too, but the book is a thousand times better.

I’ll do a quick movie and book comparison. While the basic storyline is correct, there are many differences between the two. For instance, Tristran, called Tristan in the film, uses a babylon candle to travel to Faerie where in the book he enters through the break in the wall. The term “babylon candle” is never even mentioned, just candlelight. Even then, he doesn’t travel by candlelight until he’s there. The unicorn doesn’t free Yvaine, but Tristran himself, the Princes all die differently, Captain Shakespeare is actually Captain Johannes Alberic (and he isn’t gay), Victoria isn’t so mean nor engaged to a Humphrey, the ending is completely different (I shan’t give spoilers), and much, much more. Despite this, I still like the movie.

This is basically a love story. No way around that one. Not of huge fan of romantic stories, but this is one of the few exceptions. Love, or infatuation, drove Tristran to pursue the star, and love is what stopped him from giving the star to Victoria. In retrospect, greed is what drove the princes and the Witch-Queen on their quests. You might say that this story begs the question, what are you willing to do to achieve your goals? This story shows how bad actions are penalised and good actions rewarded. It honestly feels like a classical fairy tale.

The main characters in the book are Tristran, Yvaine, and the Witch-Queen. Primus, Tertius, and Septimus play their roles, but they are minor characters. Tristran is very simple. His primary motivation is proving his love for Victoria. Everything else comes second, including the star’s own desires. He may be a bit daft, but he realises the errors of his ways and changes. His travels change him, something I have been grateful to experience in my own life. Yvaine starts off bitter and angry, which is understandable. She gets knocked out of the sky to a world much different than she thought only to be captured by a silly boy who considers her needs only after his own. And then, she remains with him because she has no other choice. The two are polar opposites and oddly even each other out. The Witch-Queen is crafty. She is after Yvaine’s heart for her and her sisters and will do whatever necessary to get it. She deceives and destroys lives (like the princes). She is not a nice person. She is a wonderful example how those who stoop low to get their aims will never be happy and will likely never achieve them.

The writing was mesmerising. It was simple and flowed effortlessly. The verbiage was expertly used and fit the era of which he was writing. It made it hard for me to put down. I felt transported and wanted to keep myself immersed in the world of Faerie.

I seriously love this book and will undoubtedly read it again. Those of you love the film need to read it. Those who haven’t seen the film, give this a go. I guarantee you will love it as well. Enjoy 😉

Buy on Amazon
Buy at Barnes and Noble


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