Date of Publication: 1999, Harper Perennial
Number of Pages: 250
Synopsis (from back cover): Young Tristan Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria – even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristan learns, lies Faerie – where nothing, not even a fallen star, is what he imagined.
Review: Stardust is a superb story, hearkening back to both ancient fairy tales and to Tolkien’s beloved works. It pulls you in to its magical world and makes you believe in it without question. At the same time, there is a sense of modernism to the story that adds a complex element to the story. Many of the characters, even the magical ones, are recognizable as the heroes and heroines of modern stories, as well as the fairy tales we all heard as children. The love that drives Tristan Thorn to journey through Faerie, looking for his beloved’s star, is at once timeless and innocent. He remains an innocent throughout the story, just like the young adventurers in the old stories.
Everyone pursuing the star does so for a different, but elemental reason. Tristan seeks the star for love. Septimus and Primus, heirs to the throne of Stormhold, pursue the star for power. And the old witch searches for the star to regain her youth. All of these things – love, power, and youth (health) – are sought everyday by all people in their different ways, meaning that the reader is able to connect with this story on many levels.
In terms of simple storytelling, Gaiman once again delivers. The language is flawless, and it is here that I could sense the influence of Tolkien, which is more than appropriate for the story. The characters are engaging, funny, terrifying, and real. The setting comes alive on every page. This book made it into my dreams as I read, and for me, that alone is proof of its magnificence. I would recommend this book to all fans of fantasy and adventure.