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If you exclude 'Good Omens' when I was about fifteen (during my Terry Pratchett phase) Stardust is the first Neil Gaiman novel I have read. I have subsequently gone on to read 'Neverwhere' and 'American Gods' is on my wish list to be purchased when I have made some headway through the backlog of books by my bed. The fact that I am willingly investing time and money on Gaiman's back catalogue is testimony to how much I enjoyed Stardust.

A true 'adult fairy tale', this is not a Harry Potter or Lyra adventure that has been written for children but is read by adults. With a modicum of proper sex, plenty of deaths, and the odd bit of swearing this is very much aimed at grown ups (although it will also be suitable for most teenagers). That doesn't mean however, that it lacks magic. Stardust is a book teeming with a sense of wonder, enchantment and mystery. From witches to sky pirates to magical candles to very human (and slightly irritated) falling stars, the book creates a wholly original, fantastical world.

It also does it with style, wit and a sense of poetry. There is none of the flat prose style that can often hamstring fantasy novels. The narration flows in such a way that you find yourself swept along with the story, entertained as much by the language as by the action it describes. Nor does the book try to explain everything; Gaiman apparently being aware that the fun of magic and fantasy is as much what you're not shown as what you are. Readers are trusted to suspend their disbelief and just go with concepts such as witches who can turn people into goats and goats into people or a fantasy realm beyond a wall in Northern English village.

It helps that the central story, of one young man's quest for a gift for the woman he believes he loves and the journey of growth and self discovery that results from it, is both a familiar and an a compelling one. Although it is a slight tale, Gaiman is careful to give his characters real depth & humanity, even the inhuman ones, allowing readers to invest in their stories. By the end you find yourself caring for their eventual fates and cheering a resolution that is emotionally satisfying without being pat.

Of course some readers may find the whole concept somewhat ridiculous, or be put off by the fact that Stardust is unabashed fantasy. This isn't however, some doorstep sized, sub-Tolkien epic tome. With a story with true heart, moments that will make you laugh (or at least snigger) out loud, a hint of real darkness, and a true sense of adventure, this is a book that should have something that appeals to all adults...young and old
44 comments315 of 333 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Fairy tales tend to lose their sparkle when they're made into books for adults.

But Neil Gaiman creates his own sparkling fairy tale in "Stardust," an entrancing fantasy tale that never loses its magic. With beautiful prose, likable characters, and a mesh of the grotesque and the ethereal, this is Gaiman's reworking of fairy tales -- with a slight wink to the readers.

Years ago, Dunstan Thorn fell in love with a beautiful slave from across the Wall. Nine months later, he got a baby boy on his doorstep. His son Tristan grows up unaware of his heritage, and longs for the beautiful, frosty Victoria Forester. When she rejects him, he makes a rash promise -- he'll pursue a fallen star over the Wall and bring it back to her, if she gives him her hand.

But when he finds the star, he learns that it is a beautiful young girl, a daughter of the moon named Yvaine. The dying Lord of Stormheld threw a gem to the distance and accidently knocked her from the sky. Now his sons are trying to get the gem back, since the one who gets the gem will be the next Lord, and an ancient witch is pursuing the star, determined to cut out her heart. To protect the lovely star, Tristan is called on to be a hero, and to learn who he really is...

Few fantasy stories are as well-done as "Stardust." Gaiman mixes humor, romance, grisly realism and airy-fairiness in a tight little plot. It only really picks up two-thirds of the way into the book, but what a trip it is. It slides rather than explodes to a conclusion, where everything slips into place and all the loose ends are neatly tied together, in a way that makes perfect sense.

His writing is a mix of beautiful details and fast-moving plot. Gaiman frequently pauses to describe the creepy Stormhelm, where murdered ghosts watch their brothers compete, to the beautiful forests of Faerie where little sprites mock people. Some scenes -- like a unicorn's skewering a witch -- are breathtakingly vivid.

Everybody loves an everyman hero, and despite his mystery background, Tristan definitely qualifies. He's a little goofy and a lot clueless, but his earnestness makes him likable. Yvaine is a bit off-kilter in a good way, sharp-tongued and a little naive, but a good match for Tristan. And supporting characters like the evil Septimus and youth-hungry witch are solidly written; even Victoria is shown in a new light.

The beautiful adult fairy-tale "Stardust" is an entrancing read, wonderfully written and full of intriguing characters. An outstanding, timeless story, and sure to enchant readers. (Yes, even the ones who don't like unicorns)
0Comment57 of 64 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
As a devotee of Gaiman I have to say that this novel does not disappoint. Though not as dark as Neverwhere or Coraline it still has that neat, macabre edge that makes what would otherwise be a children's fairy tale into something splendid. If you are buying this for children because you have seen the film, be aware that this has some sex in it, and though not graphic, it is not necessarily kid friendly.

Tristan Thorn goes through the wall into the land of faerie to search for a falling star and bring it back so that his one true love will grant him his heart's desire. It is a real, old fashioned adventure story with great villains, a totally non-soppy heroine (Gaiman's heroines are always fantastic) and a rip snorting plot with lots of wonderful twists and turns.

It is definitely worth reading the book and seeing the film. The book came first and has its own special magic, and the film is just as wonderful in its own way. It's one of those rare times when the two complement and enrich each other. A fantastic story.
0Comment18 of 20 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Fairy tales tend to lose their sparkle when they're made into books for adults.

But Neil Gaiman creates his own sparkling fairy tale in "Stardust," an entrancing fantasy tale that never loses its magic. With beautiful prose, likable characters, and a mesh of the grotesque and the ethereal, this is Gaiman's reworking of fairy tales -- with a slight wink to the readers.

Years ago, Dunstan Thorn fell in love with a beautiful slave from across the Wall. Nine months later, he got a baby boy on his doorstep. His son Tristan grows up unaware of his heritage, and longs for the beautiful, frosty Victoria Forester. When she rejects him, he makes a rash promise -- he'll pursue a fallen star over the Wall and bring it back to her, if she gives him her hand.

But when he finds the star, he learns that it is a beautiful young girl, a daughter of the moon named Yvaine. The dying Lord of Stormheld threw a gem to the distance and accidently knocked her from the sky. Now his sons are trying to get the gem back, since the one who gets the gem will be the next Lord. What is more, an ancient witch is pursuing the star, determined to cut out her heart so she and her sisters can be young again. To protect the lovely star, Tristan is called on to be a hero, and to learn who he really is...

Few fantasy stories are as well-done as "Stardust." Gaiman mixes humor, romance, grisly realism and airy-fairiness in a tight little plot. It only really picks up two-thirds of the way into the book, but what a trip it is. It slides rather than explodes to a conclusion, where everything slips into place and all the loose ends are neatly tied together, in a way that makes perfect sense.

His writing is a mix of beautiful details and fast-moving plot. Gaiman frequently pauses to describe the creepy Stormhelm, where murdered ghosts watch their brothers compete, to the beautiful forests of Faerie where little sprites mock people. Some scenes -- like a unicorn's skewering a witch -- are breathtakingly vivid.

Everybody loves an everyman hero, and despite his mystery background, Tristan definitely qualifies. He's a little goofy and a lot clueless, but his earnestness makes him likable. Yvaine is a bit off-kilter in a good way, sharp-tongued and a little naive, but a good match for Tristan. And supporting characters like the evil Septimus and youth-hungry witch are solidly written; even Victoria is shown in a new light.

This particular edition is graced with Charles Vess's exquisite illustrations -- delicate, colourful, ethereal, full of little details and shadowy corners. He captures every shred of the magic that Gaiman's words are able to conjure, and a little bit more than that.

The beautiful adult fairy-tale "Stardust" is an entrancing read, wonderfully written and full of intriguing characters. An outstanding, timeless story, and sure to enchant readers. (Yes, even the ones who don't like unicorns)
0Comment57 of 66 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 9 August 2000
Originally published in 4 fifty or sixty page installements, I thought that the title sounded familiar when I went into a bookshop and saw a 'novel' by Neil Gaiman. I bought it instantly and loved it. Then, a few days later whilst talking to the owner of my local comic shop, I mentioned that Neil Gaiman had written an actual novel, and mentioned the name and to my surprise he pulled from the shelf the four individual, lavishly illustrated books that make up this collection. The illustrations make the tale, with these it is the 'proper' fairy tale it is meant to be. Who ever heard of a fairy story without pictures? Buy this version as opposed to the plain version. Apparently the plain version is slightly rewritten, but who cares, this is just as good and has the lovely illustrations
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on 12 August 2002
I'm just trying to catch up with Neil Gaiman's novels having read 'American Gods' and thought WOW! I read 'Stardust' over the weekend and what an enchanting little tale it was. I love reading stories like this, the sort of thing you least expect from someone, a modern day Faerie tale for adults which brings real life in with storytelling, i.e. references to Queen Victoria etc. A beautiful little tale of true love, and falling in love where you least expect to find it. Tristan Dunstan is a charming character who falls for the obvious village beauty, Victoria who spurns him. In his quest to win her affection he goes in search of a fallen star, who turns out to be a female called Yvaine who broke her leg when she fell. Together they must fulfill their separate 'missions'. Along the way they meet many different characters - good and bad for not everyone in faery land can be trusted and Tristan is not the only one in search of the fallen star.
This book is an absolute delight, you can picture every scene in your head as you read it, Gaiman's ability to capture a land of make believe is incredible.
If you enjoyed this, you must read Stephen King's 'Eyes of the Dragon'. It made me want to read it again!!
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on 5 July 2011
In the efforts to win over Victoria Forester's heart, our hero, Tristran Thorn crosses the town's ancient wall and into Faerie, a dangerous and magical world, vowing to retrieve a fallen star to prove his love for her. Blinded by his love for Victoria, Tristran does not see that she is cold, unbearable, shallow, and distant as the star.

Upon finding the star, Tristran learns that it is not a rock but a beautiful young woman, named Yvaine, whose leg was broken from the fall. Tristran explains to Yvaine his situation, and feeling insulted Yvaine refuses, and Tristran consequently ties her to him using a magical chain to bring her to Victoria. However, during the journey returning back to his town, Wall, Tristran and Yvaine learns that there are other evil folks after her, as her heart provides long-life and eternal beauty when consumed.

"Stardust" is a magical fairytale following a young man's journey into maturity, development, and understanding of true love. Gaiman writes beautifully and paints the world of Faerie wonderfully with his charming and witty descriptions. The idea behind the story is very clever and funny, and is suitable for both teens and adults.

This was my first novel by Neil Gaiman, and it has certainly made me more interested in his other works - I have yet to buy some. While I enjoyed reading "Stardust" and found the unusual ending very different, there were times I felt the book was a bit slow and unengaging. Having said that, the book is an easy and enjoyable read, but I do not think I will be re-reading it any time soon.
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on 6 December 2014
Stardust is an imaginative fairy tale set in the world of Faerie. I’ll admit that I saw the movie before I read this book. I love the movie, so I was expecting something fantastic from the book – as the books are almost always better than the movies – but I feel like this story fell a little short.

I believe I would have enjoyed this story more if I had not seen the movie first, mostly because it is so vastly different in many respects. I feel the movie does a better job of telling the story than the actual story does – which is not something I would have ever thought I would say.

There’s more graphic violence and sex in the book than the film, which does put me off ever so slightly. I did, however, still very much enjoy reading the book.
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on 23 September 2006
In my opinion this might be the best book ever written. I've read it over and over again, and will probably continue to do so for the rest of my life. And I think I would have loved it just as much if I had read it when I was a child as I did when I first picked it up in my late teens. I was at this big musicfestival in Roskilde, Denmark, and I needed something to help me relax in the little spaces that occur between all the concerts, wild partying and rather exhaustive social mingling with strangers. I found this little book and some strange things happened.

First, the opening chapters brought on a strong feeling of dejá-vu. The description of the meadow with the wall and gateway into fairie seemed eerily like something I've really seen somwhere, probably in my dreams but the pictures I got in my head was remarkably vivid and somhow more solid than dreams usually are.

A more mundane explanation for the dejá-vu might be that the concept of there being doorways from this world to another is not very original. In fact, it is so widely used in storytelling that everyone who read books have probably come across this idea several times in several different forms. Normally, when I'm reading fantastic litterature I avoid authors who use unoriginal ideas. There is simply too many clichés in the genre, and elves (with the exception of Tolkiens) have started to bore me. The genius of Neil Gaiman is that he manages to take old worn-out stories, in this case The Hero that journeys through unknown lands in The Quest for True Love, and tell them in a fresh and fascinating way. In this book the cliché is transformed into the classic. I adore the little quirks and bends in the story, the intriguing side characters and most of all how Mr.Gaiman leave little spaces for my own imagination to work with. Good books are not just entertainment for a passive mind, they trigger your fantasies and expand them. As mentioned before: This is a very good book.

Which bring me to the second weird thing that happened the first time I read this book. During the whole festivalweek all my dreams took place in the fairytaleworld described in the book. It was the most rewarding reading experience ever. I won't guarantee this will happen to everyone that reads "Stardust", but maybe to some of you....
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on 24 October 2001
Funnily enough, Neil Gaiman's "Stardust" was the last of Gaiman's four novels that I was able to read, and it happens to be the only novel in which I do not, myself, own a copy (I have *two* editions of that cult classic "Good Omens").
Albeit I believe "American Gods" is a much more intensely grand epic than "Stardust" with an incredibly complex plot, funnier moments, and better realized characters, "Stardust" differs in that it is a Mirilees-Dunsany fairy tale, seemingly old, but newly fashioned.
Gaiman gives us a novel in the period in which "There and Back Again" was just paving a way for itself into the niches of cliched fantasy.
"Stardust" follows the entirely quaint (yet sometimes heroically grisly) exploits of Tristran Thorn (who has a faerie in his lineage), who promises to his beau and love of his life to reclaim a fallen star.
This plunges him into a series of misadventures, and sometimes Gaiman can be suspected of humbly thumbing his nose at the incongruities of the contemporary fairy tale: in a dystopian Munchausen-esque manner, Gaiman gives us a lion, a unicorn, several witch-women, immoral prince regent assassins, flying ships, murky faeries and their alcoholic cocktails, goblins, etc., etc., and all that--but he still manages to offer that gaimanesque wit (although slightly silenced bnecause of the genre in which he is writing) and that effervescent originality.
Indeed, Gaiman is a master at creating memorable characters, and the "little hairy man with the hairy voice and tiny hat" he alluded to, sticks in my mind as being a brilliantly realized character of gaimanesque quirkiness, despite the fact he only appeared but a few times, and wasn't even rewarded with a name.
Gaiman is forever refreshing, and even without the Charles Vess picture plates, there is an evocative sweep of brilliance saturating "Stardust."
"Stardust" is such an intensely *cute* novel that it sometimes has disadvantages depicting immorality and evilness, but this sometimes adds to it, rather than otherwise.
Good on Gaiman for playing his hand at a long forsaken and buried treasure, a genre in which all that is needed is that Neil Gaiman magic.
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