Stardust by Neil Gaiman
As many of you know, I have a new author-hero: Neil Gaiman. I’ve started to read everything he’s ever written. OK so I’m only on the fourth book, but I do intend to keep reading until I’ve either read them all or one of his books seriously lets me down.
In Stardust, a foolish boy, Tristan, makes a romantic promise to fetch a fallen star for the girl he has a crush on. Then he actually tries to go get it from beyond the “wall” where there’s a fairy land like no other.
Gaiman breaks all kinds of rules in Stardust. (As an “emerging” novelist myself, I’ve been studying these rules). The story starts with the hero’s very conception! That’s something so David-Copperfield-antiquated that a modern writer rarely attempts it. Stardust also has quite a bit of summary, a.k.a. telling instead of showing—eek!.
However, it also has a lot of tried and true storytelling elements: a great hook, some fabulously nasty villains and a “quest” plot where the hero goes in search of an object to help him win true love. The hero gets what he wants but not in the way you might expect—all good stuff.
But by far the greatest reason Stardust is such fun to read—and I’m beginning to suspect this is true for most of Gaiman’s books—is the quality and originality of its imagined world. So much fantasy these days just rips off a page from Tolkien’s world or a traditional fairy tale, but Gaiman manages to make Stardust’s magical world feel familiar while at the same time creating characters and situations that are quite different.
So check Stardust out. I highly recommend it.
Author-Heroes: At one time or another I was obsessed with these writers, and I’ve read most of their book – Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, Ursula LeGuin, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Toni Morrison. Who are your heroes?