April 10, 2013

Stardust Group Read Part 1

For Stardust read-along Carl is encouraging us to answer the following questions about the first 5 chapters of the book. I really love the book so far, so I gladly join!

1. 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?
Well, the first word the star pronounces is he f-word, so I'm rather shocked by her behavior, but I think she is rather cool. And although she tries not to show it, she is very kind too. Remember how she healed the unicorn? Tristan is less likable right now, I'm afraid. He is rather narrow-minded and can't talk about anything except "his love", which is totally fake. I hope some adventures in Faerie will change him into a proper hero :)

2. There are some very interesting potential villains introduced in this first half of the book. Do any of them particularly stand out to you? If so why or why not?
Oh, I love the villains in this book! They are so ruthless and immoral, which makes them really believable and scary. I can't decide which one is my favorite, as both the witch and Septimus are equally gorgeous!

3. 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 think that the world from 1001 Nights is surely there, with genies and everything... It would be really fascinating (but frightful!) to visit it! Then some dragon land will be appreciated too. And all the queer lands from the Greek myths. Wouldn't it be cool to know that the Atlantes are there somewhere, supporting our skies?

4. 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 finished reading this part a week ago, so I don't remember any wares in particular, but I guess I'd acquire some useful potions or curious animals, and I'd avoid accepting anything for free. Now we know how it ends! :)

5. If you have read much of Gaiman's work, particularly his short fiction, then you have come across some rather graphic and disturbing portrayals of sex. Gaiman offers up something very different in the way of a sex scene early on in Stardust. What are your feelings of the scene either in general or as a contrast to other Gaiman-penned scenes involving sex?
I haven't read any of his other works, but I remember being shocked with the sex scene. It was beautifully written, very romantic and everything, but it's not what you expect after such a fairy-tale beginning. I hope nobody gives the book to children thinking it's a fairy-tale! :)

6. 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?
I completely adore Gaiman's way of writing! He takes some well-known patterns and then mixes them up, adds vivid characters and spices it with some humor. What you get is still very recognizable, but something completely new at the same time. The whole book is based on the traditional travel pattern, which is found in folklore all over the world. Scientists say it's because of the initiation ceremony which was obligatory for boys nearly in every culture. It usually involved surviving in the forest on their own for some time to prove they are fit to provide for themselves. And we see it in Stardust very clearly: Tristan's father somehow understands that it's time for his son to go on his quest and does not object. I hope Tristan will really become a grown-up through this challenge!

7. And finally, which of the many side characters introduced have caught your eye and why? Or what else about the story thus far is of interest to you?
I really adore this small pessimistic forest guy who gave Tristan the candle. He is grumpy, but cute, and he seems to be a good friend. I hope we'll meet him again in the book!

So that's all for this week's discussion. I'm looking forward to seeing others' posts on this half of the book and reading the second half!


  1. I really like the idea of 1001 Arabian Nights turning up in fairy land. Also, I love the Greek mythology - and fairy land would truly have to be large to contain just those few things.

  2. I like 1001 Nights showing up Faerie too--I feel like I want Gaiman (or someone) to write another book just taking us on a trip through all the different lands of Faerie...

    I was also rather surprised by the sex scene, since this is usually referenced as a YA book. I like Gaiman very much, but he doesn't seem to have much grasp on age-appropriate writing. I quite wanted to throw something at him while reading M Is For Magic. Not a children's book, despite the title and its shelving in the kids' section of my library.

    I love your insight on the quest pattern--so interesting!

    1. I agree wholeheartedly about M is for Magic as it is not filled with age appropriate stories. As for Stardust, it wasn't originally published as a YA title but started as an illustrated novel for Vertigo, a very adult wing of DC Comics, and the first novelization was for the adult section of Science Fiction/Fantasy. It was only after Gaiman got more popular with his children's stories that this was then repackaged and shelved in the YA section of bookstores.

  3. I do suspect we will see lots of growth in these characters (well, 'suspect' may be the wrong word).

    Aren't the villains great? And really there are so many of them. And from the Star's point of view really everyone is a potential villain at this point. She holds something of value for everyone in pursuit of her and none of it appears to be in her best interest.

    Good point in avoiding anything given out free in the market. I imagine there are no "free" gifts there.

    Years ago when I read Stardust to my daughter I skipped over the sex scene (edited it heavily) and the F-word. When she was a much older teen she listened to the audio and was very surprised by that part as she hadn't remembered it from our reading.

    I love your thoughts on Question 6! What a perfect description of everything that is so right about this story and about Gaiman's ability to tell an engaging story.


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