Stardust: The Book

You know, I’m becoming more and more impressed with the quality and diversity of stock that the Cairns Libraries have in. Books I wouldn’t have dreamed of searching the Hornsby Shire computer system for, like Callahan’s Con or Red Seas Under Red Skies, are present out here in what many would consider Hicksville. After getting the movie out on DVD from my local video rental place I decided to try my luck with the library. Right there on the G shelf was a copy of the novel Stardust by Neil Gaiman, but this was just a plain prose novel; I wanted the original with Charles Vess’ artwork. I hit the computer system and found that the library had three more Stardusts in stock, including one with the full title of Stardust: Being A Romance Within The Realms of Faerie at the Earlville branch. Figuring I had nothing to lose I put a reservation on it. Within a pair of days the library had e-mailed me with confirmation that it had arrived at the city branch, and when I went in this morning, there was the Vertigo graphic novel.

Naturally, I ploughed through the whole thing during lunch break, afternoon tea break and at home this evening. My feelings on it are rather ambivalent, perhaps no surprise as I’m coming to it from its mass-market adaptation and not the other way around. The artwork was well worth hanging out for, and the greater depth to the world of Faerie was wonderful. It didn’t have the same energy or light heartedness as the film (perhaps not surprising as said film has only one and a half hours to entertain its audience) which I sort of miss.

Being a novel, it’s definitely more character driven than the film. All three main threads of the plot – Tristran and Yvaine, the brothers of Stormhold and the Lilim, only come together the once, so there’s not as much sense of immediate danger to the two leads. Most of the set-pieces and buffoonery of the movie were added in to fit an adventure movie’s pacing; the ship’s captain who plays a solid part in the film is in the original text for a scant few pages and gone again. Some aspects, especially Tristran’s parents, hew more to the tone of the novel’s set era, something that perhaps the movie chose to modernise. Finally, the ending is more bittersweet than happy.

I dunno. Maybe I’m still a big kid, but I prefer the movie. The novel ambles rather than rollicks, and I think I like my fiction to rollick along a bit more. If I were given the choice between purchasing the movie and the novel I’d pick the movie easily, but I’m glad to know the library has the original illustrated novel, and I’m sure I’ll go back to it again.