Welcome to the Stardust Read-Along! As part of Once Upon a Time, we’re reading Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, a lovely semi-fairy tale about Tristran, who sets out across the Wall into the land of Faerie, searching for a fallen star…who turns out to be a girl, one who is very unhappy about having fallen out of the sky!
Carl sent around a number of great questions, and I’ve chosen several to discuss.
We have spent a little time with Tristran and even less time with the star. What are your initial thoughts/impressions of our two protagonists?
I forgot how fiery (hee!) she is–and I love it! But I had also forgotten how unfeeling Tristran is. The star tells him she’s sitting there with a broken leg, and he does nothing at all until the next morning. Really? Not feeling all that fond of Tristran at the moment. I can forgive him his infatuation with the annoying village girl, and I enjoy a nice, inept trying-to-be-hero type, but his lack of empathy is bothering me. But at least he feels bad about it…so I trust he’s going to grow.
In Chapter Three, just after the section with the brothers in Stormhold, Neil Gaiman gives us a description of Faerie that includes “each land that has been forced off the map by explorers and the brave going out and proving it wasn’t there…”. What imaginary lands do you then hope are a part of Faerie?
I loved this quote. I flagged it when I came to it, and jotted it in my book of quotes. I suppose I want all the obvious places to be there–Neverland and Wonderland and Oz, Atlantis and Tortall and Middle Earth, and Florin and Guilder, and the countries in Ella Enchanted whose names are escaping me…
We do not get to spend a great deal of time in the market but while there we are given a number of interesting descriptions of the wares being bartered or sold. Which if any of them caught your eye, either as items you would like to possess or ones you would most certainly hope to avoid.
I think any time you’re in a fairy market, you have to be very, very careful about what they’re asking you to pay! Mostly I wanted to comment how it reminds me of the market in Neverwhere as well. It’s like this is a more rural version!
I suspect Neil Gaiman is influenced by a number of fairy and folk tales in Stardust. Are there any elements of the story that made a particular impression and/or reminded you of other fairy stories you have read or are familiar with?
Stardust mostly strikes me as a book that has an air of fairy tale about it, rather than being any particular retelling. A set of seven princes, a girl imprisoned by a witch, the hero on the quest…all very fairy-tale-ish. And I love the Babylon Candle element. I swear I thought up a magic spell involving the “How many miles to Babylon?” song for a story before I ever even read this book.
The first chapter especially feels so very fairy tale-like. With possible tweaks to the very last page, it could almost exist as an entirely independent story, and make a lovely fairy tale.
That’s possibly my favorite part so far…so maybe we’ll just end there! I look forward to seeing everyone else’s thoughts about the book. 🙂