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The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars Paperback – June 15, 1996

4 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This thoroughly refreshing, informative novel contains disparate components that coalesce nicely: an examination of how five struggling artists who share a studio interact with each other, a discourse from one of them about his craft, and a Hungarian fairy tale featuring Csucskari, a gypsy who tries to find the sun, moon and stars and restore them to the vacant heavens. Narrator Greg and his friends routinely assemble at the studio to work and exchange ideas. After three years, however, their enthusiasm ebbs as solvency and acclaim seem no closer. The five contemplate disbanding, while Greg labors on an immense, ambitious painting entitled Death of Uranus. With engaging unpretentiousness he explains some fundamental artistic issues to the reader: technique, the difficulties inherent in creating visually and intellectually stimulating paintings and the vacuousness of "pretty" pictures. Interspersed throughout the book is a fairy tale also told by Greg, who excitingly chronicles Csucskari's skirmishes with dragons and other foes. This fanciful fable ingeniously reinforces the book's principle theme of persevering despite adversity, yet it is Greg's amiable, frank discussion of his vocation that truly fascinates.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Steven Brust is a master stylist.” ―Publishers Weekly

“In a genre that's mostly done by the numbers, Steven Brush maintains a hipster charm and an originality of mind.” ―The Philadelphia Inquirer


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Orb Books; Reprint edition (June 15, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312860390
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312860394
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,503,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and raised in a family of Hungarian labor organizers, Steven Brust worked as a musician and a computer programmer before coming to prominence as a writer in 1983 with Jhereg, the first of his novels about Vlad Taltos, a human professional assassin in a world dominated by long-lived, magically-empowered human-like "Dragaerans." Over the next several years, several more "Taltos" novels followed, interspersed with other work, including To Reign in Hell, a fantasy re-working of Milton's war in Heaven; The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars, a contemporary fantasy based on Hungarian folktales; and a science fiction novel, Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille. The most recent "Taltos" novels are Dragon and Issola. In 1991, with The Phoenix Guards, Brust began another series, set a thousand years earlier than the Taltos books; its sequels are Five Hundred Years After and the three volumes of "The Viscount of Adrilankha": The Paths of the Dead, The Lord of Castle Black, and Sethra Lavode.While writing, Brust has continued to work as a musician, playing drums for the legendary band Cats Laughing and recording an album of his own work, A Rose for Iconoclastes. He lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where he pursues an ongoing interest in stochastics.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"Beautiful" is a pretty good description of this book. It's part of the "Fairy Tales" series, all of which I love. The main character is a painter, but his creational experience (with a "big canvas") applies to any sort of artist (the creative types). The writing style rings as true, every single page. The minor characters are intriguing and fleshed out enough to be human; I found a couple of them humorous. It gives a very good insight into the craft of a painter (speaking as a musician) as well as the mind of a creator; the juxtaposition of the modern story, the fairy tale, and the incidents in the past of the narrator is fascinating.
When I say I'm not sure I got it all, I wasn't kidding. While it resonated on all those levels, I don't think I fully understood the relationship of the Hungarian fairy tale to the painter's story; I'm not sure I caught all the symbolism within the painting, either. I'll just have to go reread it . . . darn!
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Format: Paperback
Steven Brust once again refuses to be pigeonholed. The author of the Taltos series heads in a completely new direction in this book. He spins a double storyline of a Hungarian folktale which symbolically connects to the painting the main characters is creating, as well as the story of the group of artist as they struggle to be discovered.
Brust touches on the dynamics of friendships in crisis, lives at a point of decision and the creative process itself in this brilliant story.
This will strike a chord in any writer or artist.
Buy it. Now.
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By A Customer on July 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
First off: If you have little or no interest in art, this book might not be for you. Second, if you're looking for another book lik "Jhereg" or "The Phoenix Guards" this is not it. There is a Hungarian faerie tale(which I understand from the text is liberally adapted by the narrator) dispersed between the chapters, but chances are it will not fulfill your fantasy needs. That said, let's see what we have:
The story is centered around Greg, a young painter who shares a studio with four fellow artists. They're almost broke, and they're reaching a point where their artistic ambitions must come to fruitition or be set aside for mundane pursuits.
The fact that all their efforts might have been for nothing creates tension within the group, and the fact that Greg is a rather arrogant does not help. He's intelligent and he knows it, but he has trouble seeing things from more than one side, and this makes him rather insensitive. He takes art seriously to the point of pretentiousness, but he is not the most talented artist in the group. He is, all in all, human. The other characters are of course less thoroughly described, but I did not find them boring or one-dimensional.
There are several sections where Greg is allowed to think aloud, expressing his thoughts about life, art and hungarian faerie tales. When you flip the last page, you have really gotten to know Greg.
I consider this one of the strong points of the book. Even with his biased opinions and ill-considered remarks, Greg is a likable character. He lives off his girlfriend and feels rather guilty about this, but he can't let go of his artistic ambitions. Like a man who gambles with household money, he must either take the loss and admit failure, or go on, raise the stakes and hope for his luck to improve.
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Format: Paperback
This book is as finely structured as a fugue, as passion-inducing as wine, as stunning as the night sky over the ocean. Am I exaggerating? Perhaps a little, but this Steven Brust fan was floored to find that he could produce a novel that was impossible to put down-- in which almost nothing "exciting" occurs. Having read and re-read the Vlad Taltos series, I picked this volume up when it was reissued in '96 or '97 with, I must admit, only slight curiosity for the contents; I was more interested in having a complete collection of Brust's work and decided to read it "whenever". While unexpectedly stuck at my parents' house for a couple of long summer days, I dragged it out of the bottom of my backpack and idly began to flip through it... The book did not leave my side for the duration of my stay. It is not a long book, but I went over certain passages dozens of times. I was surprised to find no similarity whatever with any other of the author's works. I'd known him to be an excellent wordsmith, but this is WRITING, kids, with each word lovingly chosen and each sentence perfectly balanced. The harmony he crafts between the story of the artists and the Hungarian legend of Csuzckari the Gypsy transcends the limitations one normally encounters in meldings of fiction and folklore. In short, this is Brust giving us a glimpse into the universal soul of creativity, and anyone who has ever attempted to paint, sing, sculpt, write, brew, or cook will benefit from reading this. It is a truly worthy book.
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Format: Paperback
All books are unique, but this one is a little more unique than most. It's one of my favorites, but what it is -- and what it isn't -- takes a little explaining.

It's written by an author best known for his swashbuckling fantasy stories, but this book bears little resemblance to Brust's other fictions. There is a hint of Vlad's cockiness and introspection, a bit of the philosophical debate found in Freedom and Necessity. But it is not speculative fiction of any sort -- science fiction, high fantasy, urban fantasy, historical fantasy, etc. If that's what you're looking for, look elsewhere.

It was first published in a series of modern retellings of classic fairy tales, but the fairy tale element is minimal here, so again, if that's what you're looking for, you'll be disappointed.

On the surface this is a story about painters and the visual arts, young artists struggling to make a living post-college, but that, too, is deceptive. Some knowledge of and interest in painting will certainly add to your enjoyment of this book -- particularly some of the clever section headings, which are titles of well-known paintings. On the other hand, the book does not require such knowledge, which may make the very broad level of treatment given to art history and visual theory frustrating for people who come to the novel expecting these to be the focus.

What the book is, as the main character Greg says explicitly, is an attempt to understand something of the process of artistic creation. And while it's ostensibly about painting, the book is written by a writer, so it's no great leap to understand much of the content as about writing. It's a metafiction, a writing about writing.
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