I am extremely happy to be taking part in this group read. Last year Carl hosted two group reads of Neil Gaiman books: Neverwhere and The Graveyard Book. Before these events I had never picked up one of his book, which is a shame since I realized I love his writing. When Carl announced this group read as part of his Once Upon a Time Challenge I jumped for joy. Then I went to the library and couldn’t find a copy. I asked the library staff to look and to let me know if they could locate it. Two weeks went by and not a word. Last Friday I received the good news. I was late joining the fun, but I cuddled up on the couch and dug in. By Saturday morning, I had finished the first half of the book. I guess you can say that I love the story. Carl has provided some questions to generate discussion.
Please note that there will be spoilers below. If you haven’t read this (you should!) you may want to stop reading this post.
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?
When I first met Tristran I couldn’t help but like the dope. Even though the readers know who he is, he doesn’t And then he falls for a beautiful, but annoying young girl who sends him on a ridiculous quest to find a star that has fallen. Now when I say ridiculous I mean she is making fun of Tristran. I actually like Gaiman’s creativity about the star. That’s what I loved about his other two books. He sees things differently than most of us. When I see a falling star, I think how beautiful. When he sees one this whole new world opens up and then he is kind enough to share it with us.
Back to the question. Tristran is that classic loveable clueless young man searching for a way to get a girl to like him. And the fact that the girl is undeserving of him makes him even more adorable, but also frustrating. However, I was young once. And I made a fool of myself on more than one occasion.
I wasn’t expecting the star to be a person. Actually I don’t know what I was expecting, but still I was shocked and pleasantly surprised. It added a whole new dimension to the story. We haven’t interacted with her much, but I already feel for her. When she fell she broke her leg. She tells Tristran; however, he is too focused on getting the girl of his dreams so he pretty much ignores her pain. He tries to make things easier for her, but I wanted to bop him on the head for being an idiot. I’m curious to see how this will play out.
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?
At first I was confused when the brothers from Stormhold were introduced. Why did I need to know about this squabbling family? Then the whole dynamic started to intrigue me. Some were dead, but still present. The living brothers were responsible for the deaths of their deceased brothers. And when I realized that all of the living brothers were intent on being the sole survivor I started to get tense. Who was going to kill who? How? I’m only halfway through the book so I don’t know how this all ties in yet. It will be fun to find out.
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?
This sentence surprised me. I’m not the most creative person. That’s why I studied history; I like facts. That doesn’t mean that I don’t love people with wonderful imaginations. Most artists and writers amaze me with what they see in their heads. And Gaiman is a master of letting me into his world via his words. So I don’t know what imaginary lands I hope to see. Yet I am curious to find out what he sees.
4. 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?
Lately I’ve been realizing that I didn’t read a lot of fairy stories or folk tales as a child. And I have zero recollection of anyone reading them or anything to me. It’s hard to imagine since everyone in my family loves books. So I’m amazed that Gaiman knows so many stories. Actually I’m amazed when anyone does. In my mind these types of stories are almost extinct and only old, rare storytellers have a faint recollection of them. They simply don’t exist anymore. So bravo for Gaiman breathing life back into them for me. And it gives me a nudge to pick some up and read them for myself. Of course I don’t know if he’s actually referring to known tales or is just making all of it up, mixing them up, or what.
5. 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’m quite curious about Tristran’s helper, the tiny man. Does he have a name? Did I miss that? I want to like him, but deep down there is this voice telling me not to get too attached. That I may end up getting hurt by this little dude. He might let me down. I’m hoping I’m wrong. And now I’m realizing that not only am I not creative, I’m not a very trusting person either.
For other discussion of Stardust please visit this page. And it’s not too late to join in on the fun. For those who are participating, I’ll do my best to hop over to your blogs over the next couple of days to chat.