My husband, to me, last night: “What are you reading?” Me: “Stardust.” Him: “Didn’t you already read that? Why are you reading it again?” Me: “Because it’s good?”
And, I mean, yes, that, but also I am reading it again because I am talking about it with people on the internet! And I can’t keep the internet waiting, so here’s the first batch of questions for approximately the first half of this adorable little novel. There may be spoilers ahead, but I’ll try to keep them to a minimum!
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?
Oh, Tristran. First of all, what’s with that extra R, and second of all, you are an idiot. Chasing after a fallen star? Continuing to kidnap a fallen star after it turns out to be a person-shaped star? Love is weird, but you, sir, are weirder. At this point in the story the star has just run off, and I do not blame her, and also I don’t remember what happens to her next so I am quite worried. It doesn’t seem fair, getting thwacked and then broken and then kidnapped.
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?
I adore the brothers, and especially the ghost brothers as portrayed in the movie, but we’re talking about the book right now. I love their ruthlessness and I was greatly impressed by Primus’s fancy plan to send his brother on a wild goose chase. The witches… they haven’t really done anything yet, but not-Morwanneg is pretty much terrifying.
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?
Um, all of them? Especially the ones labelled “Here there be dragons”? I guess I don’t really see Faerie as, like, the land of actual fairy tales and Snow White and all, but as a place of general magic and wonderment and the “what could have been” that our quest for absolute truth has worn away.
4. We do not get to spend a great deal of time in the market but while there we are given a number of interesting descriptions of the wares being bartered or sold. Which if any of them caught your eye, either as items you would like to possess or ones you would most certainly hope to avoid.
I do very much like the glass flowers of which one is given to Dunstan, because pretty! They can keep the miniature cats (I have enough full-sized ones, thanks) and the eyeballs, but all the shiny things are coming home with me!
5. If you have read much of Gaiman’s work, particularly his short fiction, then you have come across some rather graphic and disturbing portrayals of sex. Gaiman offers up something very different in the way of a sex scene early on in Stardust. What are your feelings of the scene either in general or as a contrast to other Gaiman-penned scenes involving sex?
Ugh, thanks for reminding me of those awkward stories, Carl. Ugh. This one was much much better than those, although differently awkward on account of the servitude and the chain holding that poor girl. There’s a real sense of melancholy and of a need for escape that’s quite depressing, which is oddly an improvement over the seeming gratuity of those aforementioned awkward stories.
6. 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?
Not… particularly? Gaiman tosses the reader a couple of poems that I don’t personally recognize and so therefore I assume are British things that I didn’t grow up with. But even though I can’t pinpoint any one thing and say, hey, that’s from that one story I’ve heard, the sense of fairy tales and fantasy is definitely strong. If there are specific stories that Gaiman is referencing, I’d love to know so that I can track them down!
7. And finally, which of the many side characters introduce have caught your eye and why? Or what else about the story thus far is of interest to you?
Currently I am rooting for our friend the bird slash Tristran’s mother. I’m pretty sure she comes back later in the story, but I think even reading this for the first time I wanted her to break free and take back her life. And, of course, I’m cheering on Primus in defeating his younger brother, if not in actually capturing the star because that’s just mean.
Are you reading along? Have you read this delightful tale before? Tell me what you think of this first half!