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Stardust: Being a Romance Within the Realms of Faerie Stardust: Being a Romance Within the Realms of Faerie by Neil Gaiman

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've read a lot of Neil Gaiman's stuff, so when my wife and I were on a rare outing to see a movie, Stardust was a natural compromise.

It wasn't bad. It seemed, somehow, a little light and flat; amusing and well-done, but not something we would pick up on DVD.

You're probably thinking that I've forgotten that this is a book review site, and not a movie site. Fear not! I'm getting to it.

I'm a voracious reader. Picking up Stardust at the library was a no-brainer. I had to order it via inter-library loan, and when it came in I was disappointed to see that it was the non-illustrated version. It turned out to be slightly less interesting than the movie; one of those semi-rare examples where a movie actually improved on the book.

Later, I saw the graphic novel version was available at my library. Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised, but I found it better than the text-only version, and roughly on par with the movie itself. There are differences between the two, of course, but it seems clear that Gaiman's strength as a writer really requires a visual aspect as well; he needs to be paired with a good artist to do his best work.

Not that Stardust is his best work, of course. For that you'll need to read Sandman or The Books of Magic. But it's an interesting, entertaining tale that makes use of what was once a fairly original idea: the juxtaposition of the "real" world and the rather specifically English world of Faerie. That sort of tale is in danger of becoming a bit stale, I fear, but Gaiman was...not a pioneer of that form (I think Lord Dunsany was probably the first), but probably the preeminent modern popularizer of it.

The adventures of Tristan in Faerie are a good way to pass an hour or two, both as a graphic novel and as a movie. You're not likely to be forever changed by the experience, but what can you expect? Not every book can be a classic, even from a good author like Gaiman.

I'd give this a strong three stars. If it had been just a little better, I'd have given it a four. As it is, I enjoyed it...but not enough to go out and buy a copy. I might take it out again from the library in a year or two, if I can't find anything new that interests me more.

View all my reviews.
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