Monday, 15 April 2013

Stardust by Neil Gaiman - Part 1

I'm taking part in the Stardust readalong hosted by Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings. Carl has posted
some questions about the first five chapters of the book.

1. We have spent a little time with Tristan and even less time with the star. What are your initial thoughts/impressions of our two protagonists?

Tristan seems to be a nice boy, a typical teenager. He's naive and he mistakes infatuation for real love, which is a common teenage error. He is ready for adventure and when the opportunity arises he jumps into it wholeheartedly. I like him. The star is harder to describe. She's frosty and bad tempered but we can hardly blame her for that, given that she's been knocked out of the sky and is now chained to a boy who only wants to impress another girl. She's feisty, and I like that.

2. There are some very interesting potential villains introduced in the first half of the book. Do any of them particularly stand out to you? If so, why or why not?

I like the portrayal of Ditchwater Sal. She's a little villain compared to the Lilim, or the Stormhold brothers, but she's so mean. There isn't really a good thing to say about her.

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 part of Faerie?

I don't so much hope for imaginary lands as I wish for a layer of magic in our own world. I love stories where the magical exists in the world as we know it, such as Ben Aaronovitch's Peter Grant series, or an alternate history such as Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.

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 and sold. Which, if any, of them caught your eye, either as items you would like to possess or ones you would most like to avoid?

I think I'd like a coat of twilight.

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?

This is only the second Neil Gaiman book I have read so I can't really compare. When reading Stardust I was thinking it would be a good book to read to my 9 year old son - until I reached that scene. Then I thought it probably wasn't.

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?

Stormhold made me think of Gormenghast. It's so long since I read Gormenghast trilogy that I'm afraid I can't come up with any specific reasons why it made me think of it.

7. 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?

The little hairy man who helps Tristan is my favourite. He seems to be an entirely good and kind character.

1 comment:

  1. I had exactly the same response, reading along thinking my girls (9 and practically 13) would love this story, and then having to reconsider with that scene: hehehe. I'm curious about the conversations that have emerged on this topic with other readers but, like you, I have read very little Gaiman, so I don't have any experience to add. Which isn't to say that I don't want to read more: I might just add him to my Must Read Everything list, as I've definitely enjoyed this a great deal!