Stardust (novel)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Written by: Neil Gaiman
Central Theme:
Genre(s): Fantasy
First published: 1999
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Stardust is a modern Fairy Tale written by Neil Gaiman. The main plot centers around Tristran Thorn, a young man with a mysterious ancestry who wants nothing more than to win the heart of his beloved Victoria. When he grandly declares that he'd even give her that star in the sky that just fell, she challenges him to do just that in return for anything he wants from her.

The fallen star turns out to be a girl named Yvaine who isn't too keen on becoming Tristran's prize possession. The star's dislike of him becomes the least of Tristran's problems as he learns that he isn't the only one who wants the star, and that some of them have far more malicious designs on her, all in the name of beauty, power, and/or fame. Needless to say, the road back home is quite a long and eventful one, and that's before the Reveals begin coming to light...

Stardust was originally published in four parts by DC Comics, lavishly illustrated by Charles Vess, before being collected into book form. It has also subsequently been published in a standard novel format without the illustrations.

In 2007, it was adapted into a movie.

Tropes used in Stardust (novel) include:
  • Abduction Is Love: Tristran starts out trying to force Yvaine to come back to England with him to show her to Victoria, then the two subsequently fall in love.
  • Abusive Parents: Quite a lot of favouritism with the Stormholds. The father actually orders his sons to kill their brother.
  • Another Dimension: Faerie
  • Aw, Look -- They Really Do Love Each Other: Tristran and Yvaine
  • Beardless Protection Program: Primus shaves his beard hoping that it'll make Septimus hesitate before killing him. We never get to learn whether or not it would have worked.
  • Berserk Button: You really shouldn't kill Septimus's brother. That's his job.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: The Stormholds really need some therapy.
  • Bilingual Bonus: "Septimus" is obviously from the Latin for "7", but happens to also be close to the Greek for "poisonous".
  • Bittersweet Ending: The book could have had a Happily Ever After ending, but decides to explore what happens AFTER Happily Ever After. To quote The Sandman, "If you go on long enough, all stories end in death."
  • Came From the Sky: Yvaine
  • Cain and Abel: the customary method of royal succession involves a lot of fratricide.
  • Cool Sword: One that is made of glass.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Yvaine.
  • Departure Means Death: If Tristran had taken Yvaine out of Faerie, she would have turned into a meteorite. Neither knew it, though, until the end.
  • Engagement Challenge: Tristran's quest to find a star for Victoria. Its deconstruction is one of the plot points when Tristran realizes who he loves more.
  • The Fair Folk: Stormhold is just a kingdom within the land of Faerie.
  • False Soulmate: Victoria to Tristran.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale
  • Gender Bender: The goatherd chap gets this treatment.
  • Girl Notices First
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Tristran, to an egregious degree. He has one human ear and one pointy one.
  • The Hecate Sisters: The Three Lilim.
  • The Hedge of Thorns: literally it's a wall, not a hedge, but displays many features of this trope.
  • I Gave My Word: One witch gives her word not to harm another, and keeps it -- but nevertheless manages to cause her considerable inconvenience.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: All the sons of the late king... for not killing each other fast enough.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: When Tristran finds the star, her eyes are raw and red with weeping.
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • Stars and humans. They can't have offspring.
    • Faeries and humans. They can have offspring, Tristran himself being an example.
  • I Owe You My Life: Much to Yvaine's chagrin.
  • Karma Houdini: The Lili gives up on the Star after her heart is no longer available for the taking, and simply goes back home with no comeuppance, with the unicorn's horn no less. Yvaine doesn't even bear her a grudge. (However, it's implied that without a Star heart to return their youth, the Lilim's powers will continue to fade until nothing is left of them)
  • Karmic Death: One of the witches gets ripped to shreds by the animals she guts for fortune telling.
  • Klingon Promotion: How the princes try to gain the their father's request.
  • Knife Nut: The Witch Queen loves to stab people to death. Even Unicorns.
  • Land of Faerie: The setting of most of the story.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Two witches competing for the star meet on the road and have a conversation, at the end of which one magically handicaps her competitor and wipes her memory of the encounter.
  • Life or Limb Decision: Trapped with what is basically the most powerful witch ever and with no method of fighting back, Tristran uses the candle wax rapid traveling trick using his own hand as the candle's wick. It never recovers enough to actually be useful again.
  • Lineage Comes From the Father: Subverted.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Tristran's mother to the princes of Stormhold.
  • Loser Gets the Girl: Tommy Forester.
  • MacGuffin Girl: Yvaine.
  • May-December Romance: Robert Monday and Victoria Forester. This is actually foreshadowed and played with early on, but quickly buried beneath the main plot.
  • Mayfly-December Romance: Yvaine and Tristran.
  • Mundane Fantastic: Magic is treated very casually, even by Tristran. In fact, he inherited the family talent for locating things quite strongly himself and has no issue using candlewax and a nursery rhyme to psuedo teleport.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted. Several characters are described going about their business.
  • No Man of Woman Born: Tristran's mother is to be released when the moon loses her daughter, if it happens in a week where two Mondays come together. What fulfills the conditions is that a star (a daughter of the moon) gave her heart entirely to Tristran the week Mr. Monday and Victoria Forester got married (Victoria becomes a Monday). The chain breaks at the moment that this happens. It is hinted that Tristran's conception and birth was part of a Xanatos Roulette to achieve this end.
  • No Name Given: The witch-queens. Their names were lost when Carnadine sank beneath the sea, though the eldest uses the alias Morwanneg, which means "wave of the sea".
  • No Ontological Inertia: Billy turns back into a goat after being headbutted by the unicorn.
  • Numerical Theme Naming: The children of the Lord of Stormhold, Primus, Secundus, ... and so on.
  • Nursery Rhyme: Nursery rhymes contain great secrets. One character jeers at the way ordinary people recite them to babies.
  • The Obstructive Love Interest: Victoria.
  • Phosphor Essence: Yvaine glows more brightly the happier she is. Yvaine herself is not particularly powerful; however, her heart is, and the brighter she is, the more powerful her heart is.
  • Precision F-Strike: When Yvaine falls into Stormhold and is in pain from what caused her to fall from the sky.
  • Rags to Royalty
  • Really Seven Hundred Years Old/Time Abyss: Lots of characters are much older than physically possible. The eighty-first Lord of Stormhold is supposed to be hundreds years old, Yvaine is a star, and the Lilim are just as old as the WHOLE WORLD.
  • Relationship Reboot: Tristran and Yvaine do this.
  • Road Trip Romance
  • Royal Blood: Tristran.
  • Sacred Hospitality: When one witch pledges to treat another as if she were her guest, the other takes it as a perfect promise.
  • Science Destroys Magic: The more civilized our world becomes, the fewer links it has to the other world.
  • Self-Disposing Villain: There are two major villains, who effectively and elegantly dispose of each other when the heroes aren't even around.
  • Shock and Awe: Although not a superpower, it is still a weapon.
  • Stay on the Path: Anyone who strays from the path through the Serewood will fall victim to murderous plants.
  • Stealth Pun: The name of the young dullard who owns the goat is Brevis. Think about what action goats are known for...
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: Pretty Tristran realises his love for the most beautiful girl that he left home was shallow and meaningless when he returns.
  • Stupid Evil: If the Lilim hadn't decided that she just had to try poisoning Tristran and killing Primus for no apparent reason then she could have succeeded at her goal right then. She needed the star, Primus needed the topaz that she carried. The Lilim had no idea who they even were at that point.
  • Succession Crisis: The whole reason for the shitty way the princes of Stormhold treat each other. Resolved when all the princes kick the bucket and Tristran is revealed to be the son of their sister and therefore the last remaining male heir.
  • Talking in Your Dreams: Tristran is asked, in his dream, to keep down the noisiness of his dream.
  • Tall, Dark and Snarky: Septimus.
  • Threshold Guardians: Two of 'em, hired by the town to keep folk out of the Wall.
  • Technicolor Fire: One witch recognizes the fire of another, because witches' fires burn strange colors.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Billy the goat, making it justified in this specific case. Enchanted into human form, it tries to headbutt a unicorn. Think about that one for a second.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Babylon candles, the Castle society's hinted-at signature move.
  • The Verse: Shared with American Gods, though you'd only know it by reading Wall: A Prologue.
  • The Wall Around the World: The wall in the village of Wall.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not for Kids?: The story is standard fairy-tale fare, but chapter 1 has an explicit sex scene. A strategically-inserted "fuck" appears shortly after.
  • When Trees Attack: Tristran gets in trouble with a hostile part of the forest early in his trip beyond the Wall.
  • White-Haired Pretty Girl: Yvaine is white-blonde.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: The ending of the book: After Tristran dies of old age, Yvaine is left to live in a place far from the home to which she can never return, without the man she loves, forever.