Stardust Read-Along, Part 1

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.

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast ( with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (, a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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23 Responses to Stardust Read-Along, Part 1

  1. nrlymrtl says:

    That’s great that you were able to catch up even though the library took their sweet time locating a copy for you.

    I remember the first time I read this book, I devoured it in like 3 nights. At first I couldn’t see how Tristran, the star, and the guys from Stormhold all linked together, but I enjoyed the story telling immensely. This and American Gods and The Graveyard Book are probably my top 3 favorite Neil Gaiman books.

    • TBM says:

      It’s been hard for me not to finish the book. However I want the story to be fresh in my mind for the discussions so I’ve been working on that thing called patience. It’s killing me. I haven’t read American Gods yet but I want to soon. I’m loving his writing and feel a little silly that I hadn’t read him before last year.

      I’m glad the library found the copy. when I scoured the place I couldn’t find it anywhere. So frustrating when people put books on random shelves. There’s a reason they have carts for books to be reshelved.

  2. heathermarchese says:

    So The Graveyard Book (which I found an awesome read!) is one of the 15 books for our Sunshine State Book Bowl, and I found out its being made into a movie! It will be made my the same people as frankenweenie. So just wanted to clue you in, but I’m excited! (:

    • TBM says:

      Oh my goodness I didn’t know they were making it into a movie. Or if I did, I completely forgot! How awesome! Thanks for cluing me in. I always appreciate all the help to keep up.

      • suecccp says:

        When we read it I instantly saw Tim Burton directing it, but I see Henry Selick is directing (he also directed The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline) so I’m sure it will be good.

      • TBM says:

        I still haven’t seen Coraline if you can believe it. Love Nightmare.

  3. Oooh, this looks like it’s right up my alley, and I know I loved The Graveyard Book, so I’m going to download this right now!! Thanks :).

  4. samokan says:

    I love that book or better yet the comics. Among his work, The Sandman will always be my all time favorite. Can’t wait for the release of his new book 🙂

    The movie was also nicely done 🙂

    • TBM says:

      I’m not sure I knew he was close to releasing a new book. Now I’m excited! And I didn’t know they made a movie of this one until I received a copy of a book that has the movie on the cover. I think I’ll watch it when I finish reading the book. I need to get better about keeping up with book news.

      • samokan says:

        I just learned about the new book recently when I visited his blog again, so I am excited.
        I am contemplating if I should pre-order ,LOL.

        I don’t think I have the book, but I have a copy of the comics. Beautifully done. I love it.
        I do hope will make a movie review on Stardust :).

        Enjoy the rest of the book 🙂

      • TBM says:

        I just read a blurb about the new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and it sounds fantastic! I’ll do my best to review the movie if I watch it. currently I’m a tad bit behind with my movie reviews. Oddly I’m caught up on the books reviews. Usually it’s the other way around.

  5. The Hook says:

    Gaiman is THE MAN!!!

  6. lynnsbooks says:

    I am really looking forward to the new book and the film. I love Gaiman.
    Lynn 😀

  7. suecccp says:

    1. I think most of us are a little frustrated by Tristran, although he is very lovable as well. I hope that he starts to be a little more sensible, and fast!

    2. I really appreciate the uncertainty about who is the true villain of the piece because it keeps everything more mysterious and interesting.

    4. I can’t recognize any specific myths or fairy tales in what we’ve read so far, which is quite an achievement considering how familiar it all feels.

    • TBM says:

      That is interesting since even though I don’t know many fairy tales it does seem familiar. Might be the ease with which he tells his story. Uncomplicated on one level and then weaving all these different plots together.

  8. I too love the fact that the star is a girl. Who would have thought of that? It surprised me so much the first time I read it. And I love it because in the end it makes perfect sense. Of course the star is a girl! It has to be. We have to care about it, interact with it, etc. At least we do with a story that has an extra dimension besides simply a bunch of people chasing about looking for a treasure, and object, and item.

    Tristan is doing a lot of idiotic, perfectly normal idiotic things, especially at the start. But I love that those idiotic things set him on the path in the first place.

    One of the many things I like about Stardust is that instead of many of the books I read which have two alternating story lines, here we get several different stories all converging on one central location, or in the case person, the star.

    Referencing your history likes, one of the participants in this read suggested that they weren’t thinking of “imaginary” lands but instead places lost to history. I love that idea of Faerie.

    I’m woefully ignorant of a lot of fairy and folk stories and myths. I didn’t read much of them as a child but I am enjoying what I’m discovering as an adult.

    • TBM says:

      I just finished the novel this morning and what a beautiful story. And yes, Tristran has to set out and do idiotic things or he wouldn’t end up were he ended up. Makes perfect sense. I made one mistake after another in my early years, but in the long run it all worked out for me as well. I’m pretty impressed with the way he converged all of the stories. He has a knack for thinking things up and then telling it coherently. I admire that skill.

  9. I found it hard to stop at the halfway point too; the style is captivating, and I wanted to see where things were going, largely because I was not terribly invested in the protagonists (I had no idea the star would be a person either!) and wanted to see how that developed (or if it did). I thought the hairy man with the hairy voice could be trouble as well; evidently someone with excellent manners has betrayed me in the past too! (Still, he was one of my favourite characters, right from the start: so intriguing!)

    • TBM says:

      This is the type of novel I can devour in one to two days and setting it aside was difficult. Both of us have been betrayed and now we aren’t very trusting. It’s funny, when I read these types of stories and I always try to figure out who the traitor(s) will be. Sometimes I think everyone is. For me it adds to the fun–see how much I can figure out and to find out how wrong I was.

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