Neil Gaiman’s highly ranked among fantasy writers, and I was expecting to read something worthwhile when I started Stardust
. But frankly, I was disappointed by the work.
The book starts out strange. We’re initially given a set of characters and become immersed and invested in their story, and then they’re abruptly pushed aside, making way for a whole new generation of characters. I found that sudden shift in perspective slightly jarring to the senses. And when we get to the main story there’s really nothing much to it, the focus being Tristran’s quest to find a fallen star, and bring it back to the girl he loves. Actually, the main bulk of the text is supported by various vignettes with supporting characters that color and enliven the story. Without them, the story would definitely be flat and uneventful.
Those little scenes are rather fun and amusing, but I kept having little déjà vu moments as I was reading them. They sounded so familiar. Take this scene, for example, with Tristran and the little hairy man. Tristran’s just complimented the man for the breakfast he’s cooked:
“That’s kind of you,” said the small figure… “Kind of you, I’m sure. But you
know, and I
know, that it’s just fried field-mushrumps, and never a patch on nothing proper….”
“ ‘Is there more?
’ he says, as if it were poached quail’s eggs and smoked gazelle and truffles, not just a mushrump, what tastes more or less like something what’s been dead for a week and a cat wouldn’t touch…. “You says that now,” said ] with gloomy relish, “but you’ll not be saying that in an hour’s time. They’ll undoubtedly disagree with you…”
Compare it to this scene from [b:The Silver Chair:
“When the meal came it was delicious and the children had two large helpings each. At first the Marsh-wiggle wouldn’t believe that they really liked it, and when they had eaten so much that he had to believe them, he fell back on saying that it would probably disagree with them horribly. “What’s food for wiggles may be poison for humans, I shouldn’t wonder,” it said.”
Turns out that I’m not that crazy after all. ;) I remember really liking that scene in The Silver Chair
, and had it marked in my book. When I found it again, I was so surprised by the similarities in these two scenes. Later, I smiled inwardly reading that Gaiman in his Acknowledgements section lists C.S. Lewis as a great influence on his work. Huh, I’ll say!
I also wasn’t very impressed with the ending. Yvaine states that she’s not sure when her feelings for Tristran changed. I couldn’t help but agree with her; it just seemed rather sudden. Also I wanted to know why the servant girl had catlike ears, when the descriptions of her brothers and father seemed more humanlike in appearance.
Despite that, I did like the book, some scenes are just too good to forget, but I just can’t rate it higher than three stars.