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Stardust: Being a Romance within the Realms of Faerie

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Alternate cover edition can be found here

Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria—even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristran learns, lies Faerie—where nothing not even a fallen star, is what he imagined.

212 pages, Paperback

First published February 1, 1999

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Neil Gaiman

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5 stars
167,673 (38%)
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3 stars
78,586 (18%)
2 stars
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5,035 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 24,434 reviews
Profile Image for L.h..
40 reviews197 followers
April 9, 2012
Dear Mr. Gaiman,

Damn you. Damn you straight to hell. You've written beautiful faerie stories in your plainspoken postmodern prose, and left my own projected frontiers woefully trodden. It has nothing to do with your brilliance. Had I been born before you I would most likely be the one writing clever novels about fallen stars and sly gods. I would've, I swear!

But instead, I was born forty years too late, and your Faerie, Neil, -do you mind if I call you Neil? Your Faerie, like all of your creations, is a perfectly plausible reality, praised by literary critics, the literate's dollar, and even the behemoth Movie Adaptation. Your prose is simple, if you'll pardon my saying so, not elevated, with exotic adjectives, but simple and modern, easily accessible, solid, quality prose. This reflects nothing upon you, of course -your authorship is the perfect marriage of your own writing talent and our modern culture. Shakespeare's work seems ridiculously complicated to us now, but he wrote for the masses, just like you. Our masses do not value rhetorics, metre, or internal rhyme, or I'm sure you'd write with such tools.

No, Neil, you write with one very powerful tool -distilled imagination. Escapism, unreality, creativity, novelty, and all their side effects. When the surrounding world seems unbearable, the ever-growing fetus of imagination is hope. In slavery, in misery, in poverty, in isolation, a person can escape into the brighter day of dreams, or the unknown future, or the magic of Faerie.

And in a world where the demons in the closet are thrust into a florescent laboratory, where telescopes and cameras record the crags and terrain of places where once there were dragons, where we identify which crannies of the human mind are responsible for fear, or love, or sorrow, and even plot out their corresponding hormonal compositions for manipulation and control... perhaps in such a world we must desperately escape into the unexplorable reaches of Faerie.

The rules are simple there. Help anyone in need, and graciously accept their payment. Stick with unerringly polite manners, but never let down your guard. You need a sharp wit to go with a good heart. Never eat faerie food.

Popular vote does not elect poor leaders in Faerie. Weapons are easily recognizable, not hidden in letters or water bottles. Death stands tall with his scythe and cowl instead of creeping behind health care bills and drug overdoses, and when he does come, death was either justified, or will be avenged. Villages in Faerie are rarely overrun with "revolutionaries" toting machine guns or skeletal toddlers with distended bellies. The old do not die alone there. Despite enchanted princes and disguised witches, Faerie makes more sense than our world, and if it doesn't, it's alright. It's Faerie.

So we escape into your novels, Neil, and into the worlds of Harry Potter and Lyra Silvertongue, and we love you for it (or in my case, hate you). We are too jaded to suspend disbelief, yet we ache for magic. We won't creep into a darkened room for the show, but demand that you blossom crystal snowdrops here in Times Square, your right hand outstretched for our inspection while your left clutches a Starbucks cup. We cannot leave our world for Faerie anymore, so you bring it to us in pleasurable words, easily explainable, hidden just beyond an English countryside wall, or under our feet, or in corners we don't examine too closely.

Please keep it up.

Profile Image for Ariel.
301 reviews64.1k followers
December 23, 2014
Inevitably I was reading this against the movie, and I'm here to say that I think the movie and the book are both brilliant. So ha!

I love the movie. It's absolutely wonderful. And I loved the book. .. But they are quite different. The novel definitely feels more adult. Not because it has "adult themes" just in the overall tone and language. The movie is definitely more "family friendly." The movie is wittier and funnier and sillier and faster paced, and the book is slower and more whimsical and felt more grounded in reality (even though it's surrounded in magic.)
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
July 12, 2013
The more Gaiman I read, the more I understand why people are so caught up in the magic he wields. Because that is basically what he does. He's not an author, he's a magician, painting magic pictures of rich, exciting worlds that come to life so quickly. Worlds that somehow seem complexly developed after just two chapters of Gaiman's writing. Gaiman is simply a master storyteller. He creates moods that permeate entire novels and, whether you happen to be reading his adult or young adult works, he makes you feel like a child wandering through a wardrobe into a world of possibility, or perhaps slipping through the invisible barrier of platform 9 3/4 and discovering the world is more than you could ever have imagined. What Gaiman does with his magic, is build timeless fairytales that speak to people of all ages.

Stardust is just one example of Gaiman's creativity. It is nothing like the hauntingly nostalgic The Ocean at the End of the Lane or the eerily fantastical subterranean London of Neverwhere or the ghostly coming of age story in The Graveyard Book, but it has the stamp of Gaiman all over it. His style is present from the very first chapter when a young man falls madly in lust with a Faerie girl and his passion results in the birth of Tristran Thorn. The tale only gets wilder, more exciting and more adventurous from there. A grown Tristran attempts to win the hand of his love by crossing the wall into the land of Faerie to retrieve a fallen star. But, as these things go, it doesn't turn out to be a simple task and, if Tristran even makes it back alive, he is certain to be a very different man to the one who left.

However, as myself and others have done, it is very easy to feel the need to compare Gaiman's books to popular children's classics (I started the first paragraph by doing so) but Stardust is not a children's book. At a stretch, it could be called a young adult book but I'm tempted to play on the safe side and call it "adult". There's a sex scene in chapter one that is quite graphic. Not fifty shades of faerie, but still quite graphic. Plus there's some violence and gore that may put you off if you are looking for a light, fluffy fantasy read. In fact, I've read a bunch of GR reviews where the reader hated it because they'd read the blurb comparing it to The Princess Bride and The Neverending Story and seemed struck down in horror by the sex and violence. So, I'm warning you.

The only thing more I can say about Gaiman is that I'm becoming a crazy fangirl and he needs to write more things and faster because soon I will have caught up with everything he's written. If you haven't yet, take a chance on him.
Profile Image for Jen.
120 reviews44 followers
February 6, 2008
A friend gave me this book and I decided to read it before going to see the movie, since I'd heard so many rave reviews of the film. If the movie hadn't been my carrot, though, I never would have made it through the first chapter, let alone the entire story. Let me say that I adore the fantasy genre (check my book list), so this is not outside my interest. However, in attempting to write a "fairy tale for adults" Gaimon completely missed the mark. Apparently his idea of what makes a story "for adults" is generous sprinklings of gore, violence, and sex. Considering that the rest of the story is written with child-like simplicity these sections are jarring, to say the least. When I stumbled across the first somewhat graphic sex scene within a few dozen pages, I literally stopped to double check what book I was reading. Call me a prude, but I don't think words like "nipple" and "thrust" really flow well in a fairy tale. Also, I defy any fantasy lover to not flinch in horror at Gaimon's brutal and gore-spattered murder and subsequent dismemberment of the heroine's unicorn. "Pooling bodily fluids"? No, thank you.

Still, it's not so much the sex & violence that disturbed me (although if I liked that kind of thing I wouldn't be reading fantasy); it was that they were included in a tale lauded for its childlike adventure and whimsy. Even the description here on goodreads compares it to Princess Bride & the Neverending Story - an insult beyond comprehension to works which demonstrate that, with skill, an author can in fact write a fairy tale for adults without employing R rated tactics.

Lest you think I am allowing several instances of violence and sex to ruin my opinion of the entire work, let me address the actual plot line and writing. Gaimon can write, obviously, but the plot is riddled with fantasy travel cliches (oh, he slept in a hayloft? How original!) and tiresome caricatures. The hero is an unsympathetic clod, the star is referred to almost exclusively as "the star", rendering her more an inanimate object than a living being, and the rare nuggets of interest, such as the lightning pirates and the mysterious "kingdom brotherhood" are glossed over in a few paragraphs. And for a book that does not flinch from sex, where is the romance between the star & hero? We endure their pedantic bickering the entire book, only to be rewarded with a passionless declaration of love betwixt them by the end.

The ending is predictable yet less than satisfying, since the evil witch queen escapes justice and ultimately the star faces a lonely immortality bereft of her love. Not exactly the stuff happy endings are made of.

UPDATE: I finally saw the movie, and let me say how grateful I am that it is NOTHING like the book! Other than borrowing the majority of the plot & character names, the movie is night & day different, employing a vast amount of humor & charm where the book was violent and grim. I only wish my perspective had not been tainted by the book!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
December 10, 2020
The world-building, the characters, the story - all absolutely amazing!
He wondered how it could have taken him so long to realize he cared for her, and he told her so, and she called him an idiot, and he declared that it was the finest thing that ever a man had been called.
There's the wonder, there's the intrigue, there's the titch of magic interspersed with ethereal.

Neil Gaiman has finally caught me on a story.

We have Tristian, a product of his father's wandering gaze and a fairy lass, who in a fit of youthful passion, makes an improbable promise the hottest girl in the village.

Victoria (apple of his eye) demands for Tristan crosses the boundary between our world and theirs in search of a fallen star.

And thus begins his harrowing journey through the gap in the Wall and into the land of fairy to find an unwitting and unwilling star.

This story read like an ancient tale - handed down from generation to generation.

The only thing that threw me out of it was the weird sex. Gaiman always (always) strong-arms some sex into the books and while it did further the plot, I think that the events would've played out exactly the same without the naked bits thrown in to titillate the audience.

That being said, the rest of the book was magnificent.
Very rarely someone comes to Wall knowing what they are looking for, and these people they will sometimes allow through. There is a look in the eyes, and once seen it cannot be mistaken.
This is the kind of book that makes you wonder...what if? And hope for the less likely answer.

I would highly recommend the fully illustrated edition of this book (Stardust: Being a Romance within the Realms of Faerie) - there's something about having pictures on nearly every page that brings this book to the next level.

Audiobook Comments
I read and listened to this novel. The audiobook narrator (Neil Gaiman, himself) did an excellent job...though if push came to shove, I'd pick the illustrated edition.

(For the record, the movie = better).

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Kirstine.
459 reviews569 followers
May 16, 2016
This is the one case, the ONLY case (so far. Edit: not anymore, Bridget Jones gets the honor too), where I prefer the movie to the book. I know it's a sacrilege and you can all burn me at the stake, but it is nonetheless the truth. It's also one of the few times I watched the movie before reading the book, simply because I had no idea the book existed. And I loved the movie. I mean, really, really loved it.

So of course when I discovered it was based on a book, I rushed to get it. Now, please don't get me wrong, it's a good book. It's a very very good book, and I love how Neil Gaiman tried (and succeeding at) creating a dark fairytale. Because it is very much a fairytale, except it's probably not so much for kids, as it is for adults. It shows us that fairytales aren't all glitter and roses, and good vs. evil, with happy endings for all the good guys. It's a more realistic fairytale.
That seems like such a contradiction, and few other people than Neil Gaiman could make it work (so thank god he's the one who wrote it).

The problem is that having watched the movie I wanted a fairytale. All the things I loved the best about the movie, weren't in the book (and it's usually the other way around, I was surprised too). I mean, no Captain Shakespeare? No happy stars-in-the-sky ending? The movie was such a feel-good one and the book? Not so much.

Had I done it in the proper order (book then movie) I'm absolutely certain I would have felt differently about it, but that's not how it is. Both book and movie are amazing in their own right, and perhaps I shouldn't even compare them, but ah, too late.

Still, this is a great book and I really enjoyed it. So don't rid yourself of the chance to get to know some fantastic characters and go on a proper fairytale adventure with no risk of sugar exposure.
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,309 reviews120k followers
October 1, 2020
Neil Gaiman - image from coqdiddles.com
There was once a young man who wished to gain his Heart’s Desire.
This is a charming journey of self-discovery by a character who has a dual nature, human and fairy. He makes it work, with the assistance of sundry others. Beginning his journey seeking his heart’s desire, he finds by the time he returns home that what he truly values has changed. The characters are…well..fairy tale characters and we should not be looking for great depth here. There is darkness, evil, and real risk for our nicer types, and bad guys who are really, really bad. A fun, and quick read. This is a charming fairy tale, written in clear, and pretty language, with many creative elements. It sparkles.

Charlie Cox and Claire Danes star in the delightful film adaptation - from The Hollywood News

I also reviewed Gaiman's
-----The View from the Cheap Seats in June 2016
-----The Graveyard Book more fully in October 2012.
-----The Ocean at the End of the Lane in August 2013
-----Trigger Warning in March 2015
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,848 followers
July 6, 2023
Maybe a bit too conventional fantasy

For someone like Gaiman who tends to revolutionize tropes
With new concepts and ideas that blow reader´s minds. This one feels somewhat conventional and maybe Gaiman experimented with another writing style (because it feels different than his other works I´ve read so far), making it

Different than the Sandman
That was an amazing firework of fantasy creativity. And readers want that, old wine in new skins, making Stardust an average, not that surprising experience. That´s a good example that the great art and illustration also

Need a fascinating soul
Because nowadays reader´s have pretty high expectations. Although it might be a bit unfair and caused by Gaimans prodigy status, so it´s a bit his own fault too. Other fantasy authors could mass produce good, average works and series, but as soon as one has written outstanding works, the quality shouldn´t be lowered anymore. An impossible task for poor legendary writers.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.6k followers
January 18, 2021
ive seen quite a few (negative) reviews compare this book to the film. ive not seen the movie and i think that was a benefit because i actually enjoyed this. the story has a very bedtime fairytale quality to it and i thought it was delightful.

yes, the story is short so the world-building, character development, and pacing all take a hit. i also thought the few cases of sex and violence disrupt the overall charming quality of the story. buuuut, theres something about the story that put me into a pleasant lull.

i might round this up to 4 stars after i sit on it for awhile.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
January 2, 2022
ETA: 2021 reread, motivated by watching the movie a few weeks ago. I'm upping my rating from 3.5 stars to 4 stars on reread. Possibly it's a matter of readjusting my expectations, but I found this adult fairy tale far more charming the second time around and I just overall enjoyed the ride. It's interesting, by the way, to see where the movie diverges from the book. I got a kick out of Robert de Niro scene-stealing take on the cross-dressing Captain Shakespeare and his crew of the flying ship Caspartine, and was a little disappointed to realize that the ship scenes only take about 5 pages of the book and are fairly mundane. On the other hand, the witch Lamia and Tristan's interactions with Victoria appealed to me more in Gainan's book, as did the more bittersweet ending. in the end, both the book and the movie are quite fun, if not the most profound. Recommended if you like adult fairy tales with some darker aspects.

Original review: Neil Gaiman and I have a love-hate relationship, and I hope that bothers him as much as it bothers me. He's a gifted writer and I keep thinking that I ought to love everything he writes, but so far his books have struck me either as:

• so bizarre and off-putting that I couldn't get into it <---American Gods,
• hauntingly beautiful but kind of confusing <---The Ocean at the End of the Lane, or
• having a marvelous setting but being a little on the predictable side <---Neverwhere.

Stardust falls into the third category. In many ways it's a lovely, whimsical, humorous fairy tale, and I love fairy tale-inspired books, so I was predisposed to like this book, but in the end I had some issues with it.

An English town with the mundane name of Wall lies on the boundaries of Faerie. It takes its name from the high rock wall that separates Victorian England and our world from Faerie. But there is a gap in the wall, and though men guard the gap against anyone entering or leaving Faerie from our world, every nine years there is a May Day fair when the guard is set aside . . . and sometimes the rules are broken.

One May Day young Dunstan Thorn wanders into Faerie and is entranced by a slave girl with violet eyes and cat ears. Nine months later, a baby is unceremoniously thrust through the gap into Wall, with the name Tristran Thorn pinned to his blanket. Nearly eighteen years after that, Tristran (who has no idea of his origin) falls in love with a lovely but standoffish young girl named Victoria. Tristran begs her to kiss him, or marry him, or something. She demurs, and he rashly promises to bring her the treasures of the earth--including the star that they just saw fall to the earth. Victoria lightly promises him anything he desires if he will bring her the fallen star. So off Tristran goes to Faerie, to catch the fallen star. It turns out that in Faerie stars are beautiful and somewhat sparkly young women. Unfortunately for both Tristran and the star, there are several other people who want the star as well, for reasons more dark than Tristran's.


This is a fairy tale for adults (some sexual content, language and violence) but in other ways it seemed like a simpler, fairly straightforward tale. There were several scenes and subplots that I thought begged for a more detailed description and some background: . I wanted more in-depth world building, and a plot that was less predictable.

This is an adventurous journey through the land of Faerie, with magic, witches, enchantments, unicorns, rainbows . . . just about every fantastical element you've ever read in a fairy tale manages to surface somewhere or other in this book. In spite of my qualms and reservations, I still thought this was, overall, an enjoyable fairy tale with some darker elements.

Profile Image for Mischenko.
1,021 reviews97 followers
June 27, 2021
Stardust tells the story of a rural English village known as Wall in the 1800s, with a large stone wall separating it from a Faerie land beyond. Here, a young boy named Tristran Thorn falls in love with a beautiful, arrogant girl named Victoria. Tristran spills his feelings to her, and she promises him that if he retrieves a fallen star and brings it back to her, she will marry him. Tristran embarks on a journey to locate the star–through the stone wall and into the Faerie realm. Crossing through this barrier has been illicit throughout time. Little does Tristran know, the falling star is treasured by many, and he is not the only one searching for it.

Whimsical charm, fantastical characters, beautiful prose, magical adventure–this fairy tale written by Neil Gaiman has all the makings of what pulls me into a story. At times I was spellbound. The prose is lovely and reminded me of The Last Unicorn. With that said, it was borderline too descriptive for me at times, and it veered off occasionally, but the story held my interest until the end.

What made this an even more enjoyable experience was reading the physical book with the audio performed by Neil Gaiman himself. He does such a terrific job with all the different voices of these characters that he’s created. I highly recommend the audio along with the physical book. My goal now is to find the illustrated edition of this book for our collection.

The only issue I had with Stardust was the secondary characters. My brain stuck with Tristran because he is the main character and the only character that gets significant development. What intrigued me with Tristran is that he is an ordinary boy and quite naive, but something beautiful happens with his character, which truly grabbed me. Fortunately, this happened because I could not connect with any of the other characters in this story. A minor niggle was a time forward early on, but it is necessary to show Tristran’s history to indicate his origins.

Stardust is an adult fairy tale that contains adult content, including one or two graphic sexual scenes. There are also scenes of violence and death. They are short-lived, but the prose may also be a little advanced for younger readers.

Overall, I found this fairytale exceptional, and despite a few minor niggles, I enjoyed it immensely. Neil Gaiman’s wild imagination with his inventive stories never ceases to amaze me. I am excited to move on with more of his books.


You can also see this review @www.readrantrockandroll.com
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
June 11, 2016
I hate Tristan Thorn, though I do suppose that everybody has been in his shoes at one point in their life. Everybody was young once and everybody has been naively in love with someone they barely know. I can’t blame Tristan for his natural puppyish passions, he is only seventeen after all, but I can hate him for it nonetheless; he is completely unbearable at the beginning as his love-sick foolishness knows no bounds. Indeed, when Victoria Forester, the woman he thinks he in love with, agrees to marry him if he fetches a fallen star, yes a fallen star, he childishly tries to retrieve it.

"He thought of Victoria’s lips, and her grey eyes, and the sound of her laughter. And to ignorant to be scared, too young to be awed, Tristan Thorn passed beyond the fields we know.


In doing so he does grows as a person and almost redeems himself as he sees the errors of his ways. However, he is still an oaf and a self-obsessed idiot for most of the novel, which makes him quite unbearable as a person. Indeed, when he finally encounters the star he sees nothing but his ticket to getting between Victoria’s legs; instead of the wonder that is before him because the star is a magical being that belongs in another world. She attracts a whole host of problems, with Tristan’s lust for Victoria being the least of them.

Also on route to claim the star for their own is a trio of princes, which ever one claims her earns the Kingship. Septimus, the youngest of the three, is power mad; he will stop at nothing to be the victor even if it means walking over the corpses of his fellow prince. However, a dark and more sinister threat approaches: the evil witch queen. If her and her sisters eat the heart of the star then their youth will be restored, and in doing so most of their already deadly powers too.

But, Tristan is too unbearable

I do like Gainman’s writing, and I do like the idea behind this novel; however, I found Tristan to be an awful protagonist. He is not written badly nor is he a bad person, but I just found him annoying enough to affect my enjoyment of the novel. When you hate the protagonist so much it makes the story not as fun to read, and makes you want to throw it at the wall; it becomes frustrating rather than pleasant. I mean he is so much of a love sick puppy that it made me sick. I just wanted to slap him. He really is a repulsive guy:

“We shall visit my parents. I have missed them- although Tristan had barely given his parents a second thought on his journeying’s- then we shall pay a visit to Victoria Forester.”

He just doesn’t see what’s in front of his face till the very end, and then it’s only when his first choice rejects him. Tristan doesn’t deserve the ending he gets in this book; he deserves a reality check. If Tristan was less of an idiot he would have annoyed me less and then I would have easily given this a four start rating, but alas he is a moron.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews47 followers
April 29, 2022
Stardust, Neil Gaiman

Stardust is a fantasy novel by British writer Neil Gaiman.

It is concerned with the adventures of a young man from the village of Wall, which borders the magical land of Faerie. Life moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall—named after the imposing stone barrier which separates the town from a grassy meadow. Here, young Tristran Thorn has lost his heart to the beautiful Victoria Forester and for the coveted prize of her hand, Tristran vows to retrieve a fallen star and deliver it to his beloved. It is an oath that sends him over the ancient wall and into a world that is dangerous and strange beyond imagining...

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز چهاردهم ماه آوریل سال2018میلادی

عنوان: گرد ستاره (غبار ستاره)؛ نویسنده: نیل گیمن؛ تهران، نشر غنچه، سال‏‫1396؛ در225ص؛ شابک9786007721261؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده20م‬

در شهر کوچک «وال» زندگی به نرمی جریان دارد؛ وجه تسمیه ی نام این شهر، دیوار سنگی با ابهتی ست، که شهر را از دشتی پرعلف، جدا میکند؛ اینجا «تریستران تورن» جوان، دلش را به «ویکتوریل فورستر» زیباروی باخته است، و در عوض داشتن دستهای او، که آرزوی قلبیش بودند، قسم میخورد که ستاره ای را که از آسمان به زمین افتاده بود، به چنگ آورد، و آن را به معشوقه اش بدهد؛ این همان پیمانی بود، که او را به آنسوی دیوار باستانی، و درون جهانی میفرستد، که بیرون از خیال خام، بسیار عجیب و خطرناک است

درباره کتاب: «گـَرد ستاره»؛ رمانی به قلم نویسنده ی توانای «بریتانیا» «نیل گیمن» است، لحن و سبک این اثر با دیگر آثار «گیمن» تفاوت دارد، ایشان اینبار به سنت داستانهای خیال انگیز بریتانیایی پیش از «تالکین» نگاشته شده، و ایشان پای بر جای پای نویسندگانی همچون «لرد دونسای» و «هوپ میرلس» مینهند؛ قصه، درباره ی ماجراهای پسر جوانی از اهالی دهکده ی «وال» است، که با سرزمین جادویی «فائری» هم مرز است؛ در سال2007میلادی، فیلمی با اقتباس از این رمان ساخته شد، داستان از ماه آوریل سال1839میلادی آغاز میشود

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 15/05/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 08/02/1401هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Fabian.
956 reviews1,623 followers
July 16, 2019
There's more to this Adult Fairy Tale than meets the eye. This beloved new classic is a tight little package for the consideration of any jaded or unbelieving adult out there. A fast read, it is pleasurable, readable, crazy with the fusing of real "drama" with that of a New World (or alternate dimension).
Profile Image for Savanna.
85 reviews35 followers
December 12, 2012
My high expectations for this book (the first I've read of Gaiman's) were badly disappointed. The writing was poor, the story cliché and shallow, and the content problematic. I've read that Gaiman is better with graphic novels, and that seems likely. He obviously has some talent, so I'm hoping this book is just a miss.

One issue I had with Stardust was the writing itself. Gaiman tries to write an "adult fairy tale" with what I think are terrible results. The tone is light-hearted and sarcastic, but it really isn't funny when it tries to be. Perhaps to make his story "adult," Gaiman is sure to include occasional scenes of sex and grotesque violence, but they seem awkward and out of place in the otherwise juvenile text. The plot and character development are extremely simplistic (as is the dialogue) in a way that would be better suited to a parable, but Stardust otherwise follows a more usual novel tone, so the suddenness and implausibility just come off as poor writing. The writing basically seems like a failed attempt at Piers Anthony's Xanth novels that is neither clever nor funny nor original.

This book makes heavy-handed use of basically every fantasy trope in existence. From the dry tone, it seems as though Gaiman's poking some deserved fun at them, but if there's meant to be an undertone of light-hearted criticism in Stardust, I couldn't find it. Why draw so heavily and randomly from these devices when they do nothing to round out Stardust's unimaginative world of Faerie, or to flesh out the flat characters and plot? By haphazardly including every familiar trope, Gaiman makes his story bland. I'm left wondering what the point was since it didn't seem to be satire but clearly tried for a sardonic approach. I'm sure he could have made an original, immersive, and interesting world filled with unique institutions and creatures, but he didn't even try. I don't get it.

My third and biggest complaint with Stardust was just how utterly offensive the protagonist, Tristran, is. I don't think good books need to have likeable characters, but Tristran is so problematic yet presented so uncritically (none of the book's sarcasm seems directed at him and his goodness is emphasized throughout) that I get the feeling I was supposed to like him, or at least not find him intolerable. I'm surprised not to have read more criticism of Tristran since for me he was such a dickhole. I'll briefly sum up some of the story here to show why, so if you care about vague spoilers, ignore the rest of this review.

Tristran sets out to capture a fallen star for the woman of his dreams. Who is she? What background have they shared? Why is this man so dedicated to her? All questions that could have fascinating answers, but irritatingly Gaiman employs the tired old story of a man being hopelessly in love with the most conventionally beautiful woman he knows entirely because of her beauty. (I'm again confused by this choice since Stardust is allegedly meant to shake up the genres of fairy tale and fantasy.) Pretty objectifying, sure, but he's young, so I cut him some slack initially. Then we read about how Tristran is just so darn ~*in love*~ that he regularly hangs out outside her window and watches her undress. This is not portrayed as weird or predatory; the book implies a "boys will be boys" attitude about this super creepy invasion of a woman's space. That's when I started to call shenanigans on the story, but it just got worse.

Tristran finds out that the fallen star is actually a woman. He finds her crying because she broke her leg falling from the sky. (Yes, it seems the plot is derived from the world's worst pickup line.) So surely our hero, who is by all accounts a nice young man, and who is after all so very in love with his girl back home who doesn't want anything to do with him (poor Tristran! I can't imagine why) will help this damsel in distress! Wrong. He tricks her, literally shackles her with a magic chain, and FORCES HER TO WALK WITH HIM ON HER BROKEN LEG SO THAT HE CAN GIVE HER AWAY AS AN OBJECT SO THE HOTTEST GIRL IN TOWN WILL SLEEP WITH HIM. That actually happens. Cue a series of typical fantasy adventures. The star (who has a name, Yvaine, but is mainly just referred to as "the star" by protagonist and author alike) begs him to release her, tells him how miserable she is, and cries all the time.

A true manic pixie dream girl, though, she's sure to tell Tristran to make sure he eats enough and doesn't wear himself out—fulfilling her secondary female role as indiscriminate caregiver alongside her primary role as piece of ass. But then she manages to escape, and Tristran feels betrayed and upset. Why won't the sexy ladies in his life just let him abuse them yet!? He suddenly comes to the realization that she's a human and that it's pretty fucked up to have enslaved her, but despite this abrupt stroke of sanity, he's determined to capture her again. He doesn't seem concerned about how fucked up he's being: he simply can't help it because he's in love (an answer everyone else and the author himself seem to accept). Cue more tired scenes with random descriptions of nipples and gore, and he's caught her again.

Then as suddenly as every other development in the story, "the star" seemingly develops Stockholm syndrome when they conveniently arrive at their destination and finds herself now to be in love with our dear, admirable, and ever so refreshing protagonist. Too bad she's a present for the other sexy lady! What I presume was meant to be luckily for her, our poor Tristran is friendzoned again when the object of his infatuation confesses that she loves someone else. She doesn't even want her present (how ungrateful!). Dejected Tristran wanders back to Yvaine, where they abruptly declare their undying love for each other and proceed to live happily ever after.

A dick through and through, Tristran also exerts his masculine, manly machismo when his estranged mother is freed from her own lengthy period of slavery to announce at the end that Tristran is actually heir to a powerful kingdom. (Of course he is!) Mom says how important it is to her that they go back in grandiose procession as a family after her forty years living as a slave in a wagon, but brave, manly, virtuous Tristran sticks up for himself with brave, manly virtue and tells his freshly liberated mom (also a perfect 10) that that's not his style (how humble!) and that he and his lady-object will show up sometime unannounced instead. He sure showed her! Way to stand up for yourself, Tristran!

What I find most disturbing is that Tristran's blatantly misogynistic tendencies seem to be regarded as acceptable by Gaiman himself, while Yvaine's quantum of independence is laughed off as bitchiness. Tristran, who unabashedly objectifies women and literally enslaves Yvaine, is continually described as sentimental, passionate, and caring. Meanwhile Yvaine is described throughout as "hot-tempered" (even in the synopsis), yet the only things she does that aren't hyper-subservient are to insult Tristran (her slaver) and run away after making sure he's resting and has had enough to eat. This character is so mild-mannered and forgiving that she forsakes her independence (what's left of it) to spend her life with the man who so powerfully abused and degraded her. More than that, at the book's weak ending, when the witch who has been hunting her the entire time confronts her, Yvaine forgives the witch and KISSES HER ON THE FOREHEAD before wishing her well. Yet it is the absurdly gentle and obscenely forgiving woman character who is so stereotypically dismissed by Gaiman as uppity, emotional, and wild while the grotesquely selfish and openly cruel male protagonist is celebrated as a victim of passion. This is a sickening reinforcement of rape culture that is neither innovative nor subtle.

So on top of the bad writing, confusing style, and general flatness, I found Stardust pretty offensive because of its treatment of women (I could go on about the lesser characters but I won't). It seemed like Tristran's misogynist exploits were all presented without a hint of reproach, as he won all the typical fantasy hero rewards and was described as sensitive and kind. I've definitely been super critical of him for this, but these weren't incidental issues within the story: they were central to the plot. Plus, in a book written by a contemporary author trying to challenge convention, it's extra difficult to let slide a story that's both poorly executed and deeply rooted in sexist stereotypes.

BONUS BIGOTRY: I also noticed Gaiman twice used the pejorative racial slur "Gypsy" (which is never okay unless you happen to be Roma) and described Native Americans as "savages."
Profile Image for emma.
1,867 reviews54.4k followers
September 20, 2018
Okay so I'm four starring this right now but honestly it might be higher. I DON'T KNOW. I FORGET HOW TO LIKE BOOKS.

I have a 2.97 average rating, you guys. This isn't something I'm "good at."

Anyway here is what I know:
- I love Neil Gaiman
- like seriously he is consistently just cranking out sh*t I like
- okay I mean sure I didn't love American Gods and I didn't love Fortunately the Milk and I didn't love The Sleeper and the Spindle but do any of them even count??
- sure American Gods probably definitely counts, seeing as it's his most popular book and all
- but whatever because I didn't even hate any of them!
- and considering the fact that I loved Coraline and The Graveyard Book and ESPECIALLY The Ocean at the End of the Lane, it balances out regardless!
- anyway. about this actual, you know, book that I'm allegedly reviewing:
- it's very fairytale-y, which I love
- very British, which I'm always meh on, but this time in a fairytale way so it's fine
- the characters aren't anything to write home about BUT the world is so
- also it's just fun!
- I don't know what else to tell you. The cover says it's a "fairytale for adults" and a) that's rad as hell and b) that's exactly what it is so. I'm more than contented.

Bottom line: I'm going to keep reading Neil Gaiman books and hoping for the best!! That process has worked out for me pretty well thus far.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
May 31, 2019
I have heard Stardust by Neil Gaiman described as a fairy tale told for adults, and I think Gaiman himself said something of the kind. That is as succinct a description as comes close to this very entertaining novel.

Actually it is a Faerie tale, since Gaiman depicts a journey into that magical world and the village of Wall, which is a “boundary” between the two worlds. Though the author pays homage to nineteenth century storylines, he eschews the flowery language and opts for more post-modern prose to narrate his retrospective, pre-Tolkeinesque fantasy.

I can see the comparisons to The Princess Bride, but for reasons that I cannot explain or understand, I frequently found myself thinking of The Great God Pan.

All in all, an enjoyable Goodread.

Profile Image for Barbie.
109 reviews309 followers
July 15, 2019

I watched the movie a couple of years ago and I remember that I really enjoyed it. I don't plan to read the book but within a readathon I had to read it because it was the group read.

I started to read a Kindle format, and then I found the BBC4 audio drama version. It was wonderful! There were sound effects, beautiful background noise, and a full cast of narrations. Believe me, it was phenomenal. If I don't listen to it, I probably DNF the whole novel.
I adored the idea, but the execution was awful.
To be truthful, I don't enjoy Neil Gaiman's books. I don't like the atmosphere. I also don't admire his writing style. He writes in a very tangled way. I am always getting confused if I read his novels. It just didn't click for me.
I don't like the erotica in this one. It is a tale.
The characters were superficial. We didn't learn anything about anyone. They don't have personality.
The ending was very clashed.

Make a conclusion
I don't know who is the right audience because it is too grown-up for a child but also too childish for an adult.
I gave it 2.5 stars. I suggest watching the movie instead of reading the book. But if you want to read it, I highly recommend the BBC4 version.
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
December 10, 2020
You have to believe. Otherwise, it will never happen.
Man, oh man, what a story! The illustrations brought it to a whole new level.

We have Tristan, half fairy thanks to his father's infidelity.

In a fit of youthful passion Tristian promises the beautiful Victoria to bring her back a star.

But to do that, he has to cross the Wall. Since he's young, dumb and full of love for his sweet, he takes off with nary a thought.

And thus begins his harrowing journey. t
He crosses the gap in the Wall and into the land of fairy. While he may not have gained what he sought, he returns with something far greater.

The art provides a fantastic enhancement!

There's something about having pictures on nearly every page that brings this book to the next level.

Very rarely someone comes to Wall knowing what they are looking for, and these people they will sometimes allow through. There is a look in the eyes, and once seen it cannot be mistaken.

Very rarely does a quote send me looking. After reading this story, I paid attention to stone fences around pastures and farms, hoping to find an entrance to the Wall.

You have to believe. Otherwise, it will never happen.

Anyone who believes what a cat tells him deserves all he gets.

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Kathryn.
4,336 reviews
February 16, 2008
Since I saw the movie before I read the book, I must preface my review with that fact since a comparison between the two was inevitable and, moreover, greatly influenced my opinion of the book. I loved the movie! I liked the book. Unlike most book-to-film adaptations, however, I felt that the movie had more character development and more details; and, indeed, more heart and more humor. I cannot objectively consider the merits of the book because I missed so many aspects of the movie-story as I read. I just kept wondering if I would have liked the book better if I had read it first...

That said, I give the book four stars because parts I felt were only three-star-worthy and parts were quite outstanding. Sometimes, it seemed Gaiman was struggling--that he was *trying* to be clever, imaginative, poetic, rather than simply *being* so. Other times, truly lovely and creative passages and ideas came across effortlessly. I felt the character development was lacking--as a cast of characters, he managed to assemble an interesting bunch, but no one was particularly special or deep. The love story was, to my romance-loving tastes, underdeveloped. And Gaiman seemed to the idea of "a fairytale for grown-ups" to mean that some rather vivid scenes of sex and violence (and the occasional curse word or crudity) were obligatory. Strangely (and thankfully!), however, I never felt he was mocking or cynical of the idea of a fairytale; indeed, his seemed lovingly crafted with due respect for magic and adventure and faerie-worlds.

The basic premise of the book and movie are the same, but significant changes in plot and character development (even the cast of characters) provide a few surprises no matter which order one choses pursue. The movie is heartily recommended; the book is recommended, with reservation.
Profile Image for Kat Kennedy.
475 reviews16.3k followers
August 20, 2011
Quick question: how many Daleks does it take to conquer Neil Gaiman?

Answer: I don't know - since I am a blasphemous wench and have never seen a Doctor Who episode. Nor do I actually know what a Dalek is and what it does.

To add to my nefarious ways, I'm also not a Gaiman fan (though not for lack of trying!)

Clearly, whilst I am a scifi fan - I'm not the RIGHT kind of scifi fan!

It's rather like two Star Trek fans meeting on the street:

"So which episode of Enterprise is your favourite?" The first Trekker asks the second.

"Oh, I only like Voyager and Deep Space Nine!" The second Trekker quickly replies.

"I challenge you to Mortal Kombat!" screams the first Trekker, whipping out a Bat'leth, spittle flying from his mouth as fury transforms his features into something alien and cruel.

Then they slap each other around for a while before going home.

Spock and Kirk in bath
One to write Spock and Kirk slash fiction and the other to masturbate to pictures of Jeri Ryan

I truly believe you have to be the right kind of scifi fan to enjoy Gaiman to his fullest and unfortunately, like two strangers forced to interact occasionally, we just don't quite mesh together.

I really enjoyed Stardust. Say what you want about Gaiman (no really, I already do) but he is a master of whimsy with a great imagination. Stardust has all the likable aspects of Neverwhere whilst managing to have a main character who is not a whiny, little annoying bitch! I was actually quite fond of this novel!

Still, not a four star read from me. Having the story so heavily reliant on a magical fairy market, surprisingly similar to the one in Neverwhere lost some points with me. Of course themes can reoccur across novels but there was just too many tried and true mainstays of the fantasy genre in this book to really make it original and four-star worthy.

As I've also found with other Gaiman novels is that he invests a great amount of interesting detail and depth into side characters, almost effortlessly, yet his two protagonists generally seem to lack the same treatment.

Sure, Tristran and Yvaine grow and change. Sure they're definitely heads and shoulders better than a lot of characters written these days. But there's something vague and incomplete about them, their relationship together and decisions. They're still more puppets than characters and a great deal of Yvaine's character growth occurs off page.

Some kind of explanation about the little man, the flying caption etc would have been nice as well. This was never expounded upon in the story.

Over all, I enjoyed it. Not a perfect read, not a bad read either, but an enjoyable read.

However, like the question of who would win: Neil Gaiman or the Daleks - well, I'm just ambivalent about the whole thing, really.

Clearly I'm the wrong kind of Scifi fan.

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Or maybe I'm the right kind of scifi fan... who's to say?

Profile Image for Connor.
693 reviews1,660 followers
January 26, 2016
Everything about this one just worked for me. I loved it. The characters, the writing style, the plot, the romance, the magic. It was brilliant. This edition had a forward explaining that it was written as a fairy tale for adults that would have live in the 1920's, and it hit the mark so well. One of my favorite Gaiman books so far that I've read.
Profile Image for Maciek.
567 reviews3,410 followers
October 4, 2010
To tell the truth, I didn't believe it was possible. My copy of "Stardust" promises so much just by images on the cover - and the volume is so slim, barely reaching 200 pages. How will all these events and characters fit in such slim space? - I asked myself, and started reading on the evening of October, 2nd. By 4AM, October 3rd, I learned that not only it is possible, but also that Neil Gaiman is a talented, gifted writer with gorgeous imagination and invaluable, rare talent for recreating the noblest thing: magic.

I think that the tale is really worth discovering for yourself, so I'll refrain from discussing the plot. Let me just say that few fantasy stories are as charming as "Stardust", which is a haunting journey from the border of the human reality into the magical land of Faerie. Gaiman mixes humor with seriousness, realism with fantasy, displaying skill rarely encountered that deserves to be admired and, quite simply, envied. His prose is simple and easily accessible, but in no way generic or cheap. The author's voice is never intrusive, and the tale moves at a surprisingly fast pace, switching effortlessly between several narratives which all are captivating and important - not a single moment is redundant. The descriptions are delicate and ethereal, and scenes are written in vivid detail - the tension at times is almost palpable.

"Stardust" is a sublime, intriguing and simply beautiful fairy tale, full of compelling characters that the reader is sure to find himself caring strongly for, taking a journey most unique and exciting. Take it with them by reading this wonderful, memorable book destined to become a classic. Neil Gaiman is a marvelous storyteller who knows all his spells - prepare to be enchanted.
Profile Image for Eloy Cryptkeeper.
296 reviews196 followers
February 28, 2021
Cual alquimista Gaiman toma elementos de cuentos clásicos,cuentos de hadas y una pizca de mitología y las mezcla con su propia impronta e imaginativa fantástica, lúgubre, romántica , libidinosa y onírica. Y todo esto lo convierte en oro
Profile Image for mimi (taylor’s version).
338 reviews272 followers
March 14, 2022
I was very skeptical about this, and not just because I was tremendously shocked by Coraline as a child. Actually, I think every kid should see it in that middle land when is a little bit old to be defined as a kid but too young to be defined as a teenager. If it doesn't scare you, nothing can.
I was skeptical because I'm never been a fairy tail-type-of-child and I thought Mr Gaiman and I couldn’t get along - you don't read Stephen King if you don't like horror. Instead, I wish someone pushed me to read him sooner.

I'm aware there is also a movie with the hottest English actors - which probably I'll have to see now - but, as I said before, I thought it wasn't my genre, so this is not gonna be one of those reviews in which people say how the movie is better than the book.
Also, the book is pretty cool, so I don't get it. What’s this trend of loving the movie more?

Dustan Thorn made a mistake a long time ago, and Thristan Thorn was born. Pretty clear is not fully human, but he still grows up in the town of Wall, which divided the magic world from ours. To win the love of the girl he cherishes, he promises her a shooting star and he obviously accomplishes that without even being stabbed, poisoned, choked and with all the fingers. Faerie is not a safe place for anybody.
I can't say I'm surprised by the ending, I'm just glad it didn't end as expected - or maybe it ended as expected but not as it looked to end at first. The point is, I'm glad it ended as all tales should end: with a sad happily ever after.

Tales are stories about humans and creatures in magic worlds, but no little girl think Cinderella or Snow White one day is going to die. But she will, and this is why kids have the right to know that. It's not ending but the journey, right?
So yes, this is not the happiest of the tales, but it's real and this is better. Every story that was ever written ends with death, but it's just life.

It’d be useless to say how good Gaiman’s narrative style is, or he wouldn't have written all those books in his life. Still, the ability to combine dialogues and descriptions so well is rare, especially if in one story are narrated three tales which will eventually meet.

Last, pretty obvious, thing: this is not a proper children's story. It's not meant to be read to kids, but a much adult audience.
And this is why it's so good: it’s harder making adults like magical stuff than children.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Maureen.
574 reviews4,185 followers
July 16, 2016

I really enjoyed this book! Even if I enjoyed the movie more than the book.
I love that this is an adult fairytale & I love the comedy aspects of it, but part of it felt like a not totally complete story, whereas the movie really did bring things around.
Regardless, I LOVE Neil Gaiman's writing style and storytelling. He truly is a master story teller! The audiobook was narrated by him and it made the story that much better because of it.
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