Friday, September 07, 2012

Stardust, a Review

Tristran Thorn is an unusual lad in the town of Wall. Wall itself is rather an unusual town in the English countryside. The town is named after the natural wall that spans all across its border next to faerie. There is but one break in the wall, and it is guarded day and night by men from Wall to make sure that no one goes through.

Every nine years the Market comes to faerie. It’s set up across the hole in the wall, and folk travel from far and wide to shop at the Market. This is the only time the guards allow anyone through, as a faerie Market is not something to miss. To miss the Market would be to miss miracles and wonders and all manner of mysterious things.

Victoria Forrester is the prettiest girl in all of Wall, and young Tristran Thorn pines for her as much as any other man. One night Tristran proposes to Victoria and she laughs him off, telling him that if he wanted to win her love then he would have to find a fallen star that the two had just seen. Tristran, ever eager, vows that he will and sets off almost immediately. The guards let him through the wall and soon he’s in faerie, chasing a fallen star to win his love.

Tristran Thorn, however, is not the only one after the star. For a fallen star is a thing of value in faerie, and there are many that would like to find it.

In essence that pretty much sums up what Neil Gaiman’s Stardust is. The book has accolades and acclaim and has been on my TBR pretty much since I discovered Gaiman back in college. I remember watching the film adaptation, but I have no memories about it other than that. So as I read this book it was as if I was reading the story for the first time.

No one can deny that Neil Gaiman is a master storyteller. His prose is precisely as it needs be, and he has a way with words that few others can match. Stardust is a simple story, but its simplicity allows Gaiman to truly shine. All of the characters are well developed (even Wall) and flushed out. The pacing is quick, partially rushed by the tale’s just two-hundred pages or so. The wit is great, and the humor quite funny. Gaiman once again tells a master story.

Allow me to give an idea of how much I enjoyed this read. I checked out the audio book from the library and listened to it on my commute. Gaiman himself did the narrating, and this made the story all the better. Once I finished the audio book I checked out the hardback from the library and began reading it aloud to Keisha because I wanted her to hear the story. Point blank, I finished the book one afternoon and began re-reading it again that night. That’s how much I enjoyed Stardust.

If you’ve never read Stardust then allow me to boldly recommend that you rectify that. It’s a truly wonderful story that takes very little time to read. It’s sweet and funny and dramatic and fascinating and many other things. Gaiman tells a great story, and I’m rather sure to say that Stardust is my favorite novel of his that I’ve read to date. I’m glad to have finally read it, and I look forward to revisiting it again down the road.


Post Thought: I checked out the film version from the library again.  I'd forgotten so much about it that it was practically like watching it anew.  The long short of it: Nowhere near as good as the book.  The many changes made to suit a film style were necessary, I suppose, but the alterations weren't to my liking.  I much prefer the book's ending to the film's.  Even so, the movie does have a magical-ness to it, and it was a fun way to while away the night.


Anonymous said...

you touch on one of the things I really admire about so many of Gaiman's stories: he isn't afraid of using a simple straightforward story; he knows (I hope) that his imagination and his wit and humor make the story shine.

I need to read this one, and your review makes me need to read this one even more--or maybe listen to it.


logankstewart said...

Oh yes. Sure Gaiman knows those things. I definitely recommend that you check it out. Wonderfulness abounds!

Carl V. said...

So so so happy that you liked this one so much. I love the story and is one I always enjoy no matter how many times I read it, or listen to it. And I've done both many times. In fact I am so fond of the story that I just bought the collectible version that Subterranean Press started pre-sales for. Such a lovely story and showcases Gaiman's ability to just simply make magic.

I was very disappointed with the film, even more so as time goes by. I felt like the film maker just didn't get the magic, and I hated the expansion of the ship captains part and the whole cliched gay storyline that was unnecessary and not part of the story. The story didn't need anything added to it and the film additions were a mess.

logankstewart said...

@Carl: Indeed, the film version is apples to the book's oranges where it counts. Some pretty poor choices made there. Nevertheless, what a wonderful book. I, too, can see myself re-reading this throughout my life.