by Neil Gaiman
Spike, 1999, 235 pp, $22.00
A book review by Mark L. Olson
Stardust is an interesting story told in the classic fairytale manner, but with a few modern twists - mostly people show more independence than usual, and more of the politics and structure of Faery is visible than, say, the Brothers Grimm would have included.
The story is simple: There is a village in England which has a Wall with a gate (or is that a Gate?) to Faery. Every nine years a fair is held on the Faery side of the gate and people from all over Earth come for the chance to trade with Faery. But trading with Faery -- dealing with Faery in any way -- is dangerous. One man returns with a changeling child.
Years later another fair is at hand and the changeling is now an 18-year-old young man who goes off into Faery on a foolish quest -- his not-quite-but-he-wishes-she-were-girlfriend asks him to bring her a fallen star. The quest ultimately succeeds in an unexpected way, but the un-girlfriend has long since married another.
Interestingly, the quest succeeds in part because of the youth's heroism, but more than his heroism, it succeeds because he is essentially a polite, decent person -- a novelty which elicits help from many quarters.
Faery is rich and fabulous and dangerous -- not the least the nine brothers, Lords of Stormhold, who must settle the succession by assassinating each other -- with the ghosts of the assassinated brothers hanging around to comment on the technique of the survivors.
This is a fun modern fairy tale.
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