Stardust Summary

Neil Gaiman


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Stardust Summary

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British author Neil Gaiman’s 1999 novel Stardust is a fantasy often considered to be akin to the traditions of pre-Tolkien English fantasies. It follows the events in the life of a man from the village of Wall near Faerie, a magical realm. The tale opens in 1839. During this time,John William Draper had made a photograph of the moon and Charles Dickens was writing Oliver Twist. The bulk of the storyline unfolds a number of years later, in 1856.

In order to find a fallen star that will help him gain the hand of his beloved Victoria Forrester, Tristran Thorn has entered the land of Faerie. Ordinarily, nobody is permitted to pass the wall that serves as the border to Wall. Tristran is given permission due to the conditions that surrounded his birth. The random meeting of Tristran’s father and a witch’s slave resulted in his birth. Tristran was sent to Wall in a basket. Now, Tristran, eighteen years old and in love with Victoria, sets out to fulfill his promise to her to find a fallen star. In Faerie, he encounters various beasts and magic beings.

The first person he meets in Faerie is a hairy man called Charmed. Charmed is small and carries a case with his name on it. Years earlier, Charmed knew Dunstan, Tristran’s father. This was during the same time period that Dunstan had his encounter with Tristran’s mother at the Faerie Market. Charmed shares information with Tristran that will help him understand the way things are done in Faerie and that will aid him in his travels. In addition, Charmed gives him a candle that speeds his journey through Faerie. The candle eventually leads Tristran to the fallen star, where, to his surprise, he finds that the star is a woman. The star is not happy to learn that Tristran plans to take her with him to Wall as a gift for his love.

Meanwhile, the eighty-first Lord of Stormhold is nearing death and is faced with choosing one of his sons to take his place. He has three living sons, four others have met their deaths, killed by their brothers. The ghosts of the dead brothers are there and speaking about which of the remaining brothers will replace their father as Lord. The Power of Stormhold is topaz, which the father throws from a window. He tells his sons that the one who retrieves it will become the next Lord. It seems that the topaz is what knocked the star from the sky causing her to suffer a broken leg. It is the star’s responsibility to carry the topaz until it is claimed by its rightful owner. In addition to Tristran, there are three witches who also covet the star. They want her heart, which will allow the witches to recapture their lost strength and youth. The queen witch, Lilam, sends the eldest sister to search for the star. She goes to Faerie, but the repeated use of her magic makes her older and weaker as she continues.

Tristran is journeying through Faerie with the star as he attempts to return to Wall. They are helped by the people of Faerie along the way and also face threats. Tristran frees the star from the chain with which he has held her captive, and ends up saving her life when they encounter the witch queen. This leads to a connection between Tristran and the star. When they reach the Faerie Market just outside of Wall, Tristran finds that Victoria has fallen in love with someone else. She tells Tristran that although she has promised to marry Robert Monday, she will honor her commitment to Tristran if he asks her to. Tristran releases her, happy to be with the star.

After sixty years of being a bound servant, the slave of the witch is released. The slave is Lady Una, who is the first child of the eighty-first Lord of Stormhold. Tristran gets the topaz from the star and takes his place and title as the eighty-second lord. Lady Una returns to Stormhold. Eight years later, Tristran and the star return and rule the land after having spent many happy years wandering about Faerie. Many more years pass, and upon Tristran’s death, the star remains the ruler of Stormhold. Each night, she mounts the highest tower in the kingdom to be close to her mother the moon and her sister the stars.

Publishers Weekly praised Neil Gaiman’s Stardust saying, “This novel is at once a magical adventure, a charming love story and a fable about attaining one’s heart’s desire–which, in Gaiman’s world, is seldom what one thinks it to be. Grounding his narrative in mythic tradition, Gaiman employs exquisitely rich language, natural wisdom, good humor and a dash of darkness to conjure up a fairy tale in the grand tradition.”