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Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess' Stardust Paperback – July 1, 1999
Attention Science Fiction Fans
Man vs. machine, humans vs. aliens, paranormal activities – discover the best of science fiction with these collectible books. Learn More.
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As for the artwork, it is ... difficult to describe as to it' style. Frankly, I personally don't think I have a good comparison. Here what I will say: it doesn't get in the way of the tale. It subtly adds something to the story without becoming the story itself. I find myself glancing at it and smiling as I read, rather than gaping at it in awe as I struggle to focus on the words. It is the backup keyboard to the lead guitar, if you will. And like every good backup, there are several sections of full page imagery to show of Vess' talent without distraction.
Overall, I recommend this book wholeheartedly. In a sentence: This is the adventure you tried to have as a kid; most of our imaginations simply aren't this powerful. I take no shame in embracing my failure and enjoying instead the wonders of the imaginations of these two artists, who are clearly masters of their craft.
Stardust is a fairy-tale of a different kind. Darker, grislier, more adult. But it doesn't suffer for those reasons, it excels because of them.
This novel, and indeed the fantastic and gorgeous artwork, kept me enthralled for hours and I finished it in one day (not because the book was easy to read, but because I couldn't stop reading it!).
Stardust is an adult fairy-tale, the themes are powerful and enthralling and I enjoyed every star dotted page of it.
Gaiman's story begins and ends with a fair that will remind you of Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market":
"Backwards up the mossy glen/ Turned and trooped the goblin men,/ With their shrill repeated cry,/ "Come buy, come buy.".../
As Laura of "Goblin Market"-fame learned, it is better not to sample the merchandise at such Unseelie gatherings. Dunstan Thorn, who "was not romantic" learns this lesson too, when nine months after the "Stardust" fair, a baby is abandoned at the boundary between Faerie and the English village of Wall with his name pinned to its blanket. Thus begins the story of Tristan Thorn who is raised as a proper Victorian lad until age seventeen. Unlike his father, Tristan is romantic and at the bequest of the most beautiful girl in Wall, he sets out on a quest through the Land of Faerie to fetch her a fallen star. Not just any fallen star, but the one Tristan and Victoria both saw on the night she refused to kiss him.
"Stardust" is stuffed with stock fairy tale creatures who have been blown loose from their moorings and brought to life in the most wildly imaginative way. Some of them make only token appearances, but all are memorable. Two of the most poignant are the boy who is turned into a billy goat, and a billy goat, turned into a boy. There are three truly evil witches, and one who is only so-so wicked. There are...well, read the book. Even if you aren't drinking while you read it, you'll feel drunk by the time you finish.
If ever there was a book that could be labeled, `Drink me!', "Stardust" is that book.