Stardust
by Gaiman, Neil






Tristan Thorne, who lives in the quiet Victorian countryside town of Wall, crosses into the world of Faerie to recover a fallen star for the woman he loves, but once there he encounters dangerous rivals for the star.





/*Starred Review*/ Wall is a whole night's drive from London. The town is named for a rock barrier on its eastern side, with a narrow break in it through which a meadow, a stream, and a forest are apparent, and over which two townsmen always stand guard to prevent entry, except for a few days every nine years. That is when there is a fair in the meadow, put on by people who aren't strictly human, one of whom, in the middle of the nineteenth century, seduces 18-year-old Dunstan Thorn. Nine months later, a baby is delivered to newly married Dunstan, its name written on a card pinned to its blanket: Trystran Thorn. Stardust is primarily Trystran's story. When he is 17, he pledges to fetch for his beloved, the star that has just fallen on the other side of the wall. Of course, first he has to be allowed on the other side, but that proves easy when Dunstan whispers something to the guards. Then Trystran's adventures really begin, for on the other side is Faerie. Once there, Trystran discovers he knows the locations of places he cannot remember ever having heard of before. He knows exactly where the star has fallen, too, and readily finds it-or, actually, her. Nothing thereafter is as easy for Trystran, much to any reader's delight. Gaiman gently borrows from many fine fantasists-for starters, from Andersen, Tolkien, Macdonald, and, for the framing device, Christina Rossetti in her "Goblin Market" -but produces something sparkling, fresh, and charming, if not exactly new under the sun. Superb. ((Reviewed November 1, 1998)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews





The multitalented author of The Sandman graphic novels and last year's Neverwhere charms again, with a deftly written fantasy adventure tale set in early Victorian England and enriched by familiar folk materials. In a rural town called Wall (so named for the stone bulwark that separates it from a mysterious meadow through which strange shapes are often seen moving), on ``Market Day,'' when the citizens of ``Faerie'' (land) mingle with humans, young Dunstan Thorn makes love to a bewitching maiden and is presented nine months afterward with an infant son (delivered from beyond the Wall). The latter, Tristran, grows up to fall in love himself and rashly promise his beloved that he'll bring her the star they both observe falling from the sky. Tristran's ensuing quest takes him deep into Faerie, and, unbeknownst to him, competition with the star's other pursuers: three weird sisters (the Lilim), gifted with magical powers though still susceptible to ``the snares of age and time''; and the surviving sons of the late Lord of Stormhold, accompanied everywhere by their several dead brothers (whom they happen to have murdered). Tristran finds his star (in human form, no less); survives outrageous tests and mishaps, including passage on a ``sky-ship'' and transformation into a dormouse; and, safely returned to Wall, acquires through a gracious act of renunciation his (long promised) ``heart's desire.'' Gaiman blends these beguiling particulars skillfully in a comic romance, reminiscent of James Thurber's fables, in which even throwaway minutiae radiate good-natured inventiveness (e.g., its hero's narrow escape from a ``goblin press-gang'' seeking human mercenaries to fight ``the goblins' endless wars beneath the earth''). There are dozens of fantasy writers around reshaping traditional stories, but none with anything like Gaiman's distinctive wit, warmth, and narrative energy. Wonderful stuff, for kids of all ages. (Author tour) Copyright 1998 Kirkus Reviews






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