Stardust Read Along Part II

GaimanStardustWelcome back everyone. This week’s post takes us through the second half of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust (Chapters 6-END). Make sure to swing by our wonderful host Carl’s place over at Stainless Steel Droppings to read his thoughts on the book and catch everyone else’s link. From here on out there will be spoilers folks.

1.  In the first part we saw a naive, wool-headed and self-involved Tristran.  What are your thoughts about Tristran and his personal journey now that the book has ended?

I thought Tristran’s transformation only went so far, and not just regarding his boyish affections for Victoria. Just simply taking this journey he learned life skills, like taking a shovel with you to crap in the woods, be careful hitchhiking, and that clouds are great fluffy things but can’t provide much in the way of sustenance. While he comes to realize he doesn’t truly desire Victoria, I found his sudden switch to Yvaine to be a bit boyish. On the other hand, they did spend lots of quality time afterwards traveling around, adventuring together, before settling down into a domesticated life.

2.  The star, who we now know as Yvaine, also experienced a transformation of her own.  So I ask the same question, what are  your thoughts about Yvaine and the journey she took?

I don’t think she was use to being ignored, or chased with a big knife either. But somehow I think she took the magic-induced ignoring by Ditchwater Sal harder than being threatened by the Lillim. This was character building for her. Then there was the part where she removed the unicorn’s horn from the Lillim’s pack and that must have been a bit heart rending. That unicorn gave it’s life for her. She also showed wisdom by not stepping into the middle of a son-mother argument.

3.  The villains of the story came to interesting ends, but not necessarily expected ones.  How do you feel about Neil Gaiman’s handling of the Stormhold brothers (who had remained at the end of Part 1) and the two witches, the one Lilim and Ditchwater Sal?

I had remembered from my previous reading some years ago that the one Stormhold brother had his throat slit by the Lillim, and I was a little sad as I had hoped to have him duke it out with his remaining brother or Tristran/Yvaine. The second brother, Septimus, I had forgotten his ending and it struck me as surprising yet again. After revenge only to be taken out by a snake’s poison – it took him hours to die. I really liked that Ditchwater Sal was going to have to empty her own chamber pot and give it a good scrub from now on. hehe. Then the Lillim turning into an old, old lady, having spent her magic and youth on nefarious deeds that came to naught. Yvaine made a good decision in leaving her to live out what was left of her life. I hope the Lillim gets to experience ailments of age, such as hemorrhoids and goiters.

4.  Were there any descriptions, characters, settings, plot threads that stood out to you personally during this second half of the book?

Oh my! Tristran’s mother, Una was very funny. She needed a whole, royal procession to escort her back to Stormhold. On one hand I can understand wanting to travel in comfort, maybe even style, but elephants? She definitely showed quite a bit of ego and vanity once released from her enslavement. Oh, and Victoria and her little bun in the oven. I can assume it is Mundy’s child, but that could be completely wrong. She was ready to marry Tristran, so maybe she just wanted the security before she began to show.

5.  At the very end of the book we see that Tristran and Yvaine’s relationship and fate echoes that of Aragorn and Arwen from The Lord of the Rings.  If this question makes any sense to you (lol), what comparisons and/or contrasts do you see, especially in the fates of Yvaine and Arwen?

Well, Yvaine never really did take up faerie, or even human ways, like she never ate or drank and I assume she didn’t need to excrete. Also, she never could have children. So, her very nature remained a star’s nature, which means sooner or later she was going to have to return to the night sky. In some ways I felt sorry for Tristran not being able to join her, but then again, he had love and deep satisfaction from his good deeds. I can see the correlation of their lengthy love affair and it’s ending with Aragorn and Arawen. However, I just can’t picture Aragorn as a numpty young lad. (thanks to Lynn for teaching me a cool Scottish word). Additionally, we all know that Arawen ate and could have children. Oh, and Arawen and Aragorn were blood related – like isn’t Arawen his great aunt or something? Tristran and Yvaine were not blood related, so they spared the audience from shaking their heads in the mild incest grimace.

6.   What are your overall impressions of the story now that it is done?

I like that the end impression is that life goes on….well, except for those who are dead. But the point is that there are fairy stories going on all the time. Also Tristran and Yvaine did not kill anyone to gain their rule of Stormhold, which I found to be interesting and quaint at the same time. Reality is hardly ever so generous to rulers. I like that our ‘heroes’ were flawed and therefore, real.

7.  If Gaiman were to return to Wall/Faerie, would you take another journey there?  If so, are there any adventures hinted at in Stardust that you would like to see Neil expand on?

The lightning collectors of course. I want to know what their lives are like up in the sky, going from cloud port to cloud port, trading, living so high up. They probably have very efficient, strong, and large lungs, just to be anatomical. Also, I would like to know more about unicorn society, or the lack thereof. Are they popular in faerie? Do they go about muddling in other people’s business all the time, sticking their horns where they shouldn’t be? Do they live in groups or are they solitary, wandering about, hoping for that awkward brief chance encounter that leads to little unicorns (just like pandas)?

Other Tidbits:

The Lillim’s use of the dead reanimated unicorn was chilling. Remind me not to inhabit a body that is of such use to witches.

The Air Captain and the little hairy man are of the same fellowship…..a fellowship that uses a castle symbol. Hmmm…well, since this is a story that involves Stormhold, one can infer that is what the Captain meant. But what if that is not so? It would be like Gaiman to through that out there and then in some future installment have the symbol mean something else entirely.

 

 

10 thoughts on “Stardust Read Along Part II

  1. I was also surprised by the way the villains ended up…and not altogether happy about it!

    I agree the dead unicorn reanimated was SO chilling, and I love your observation that Yvaine was more bothered by being ignored then threatened. :) I want to know more about the lightning collectors too!

    • nrlymrtl says:

      I always go back and forth a bit on the villains. Part of me wants a definitive end to the Lillim and Ditchwater Sal – I mean leaving enemies alive behind you is never the best idea. But then I swing the other way and realize those ladies will suffer more left in their current state.

  2. Ekaterina says:

    I really like the idea that ignoring had more influence on Yvaine than anything else. I think she had a lot of time to think in the carriage with nobody to speak to, and a little time with oneself always changes a person.

    • nrlymrtl says:

      Yep. Sometimes a person becomes more comfortable with themselves….and sometimes they become a little unhinged. I think Yvaine definitely fits into the former category with her enforced alone time.

  3. I didn’t find the switch to be sudden myself, just his realization of it. No boy, or man for that matter, is going to spend that kind of time with a woman and not develop feelings for her whether he was admitting it or not. I think it took seeing Victoria again, and really just walking back through the gap in the wall, to see that he what he had was really just a boyish infatuation all along and that he really did not belong to that world.

    It would be very unsettling to realize that someone truly couldn’t see you. Live long enough and someone has probably purposefully slighted and ignored you, but imagine how scary it would be if they had no idea they were doing it because to them you truly were nonexistent. That would make you crazy, I think.

    I think we get a whole different perspective on Tristran’s mother when we see her in her full royal personage. She definitely puts on the airs of royalty and entitlement quite naturally.

    I didn’t talk about it in my post the way I should have, but I like how Gaiman treats Victoria. She could be this one-note snobby character and yet in the end she is actually a character with some dimension who is prepared to honor her word even to the point of causing herself pain because of her love for another.

    Hmm…in regard to your answer to Question 5, Tristran dies and Yvaine does not return to the stars. Like Arwen she remains behind, very much alive. At the end of the story she is standing gazing at the stars, not being one of them. As for the incest thing, at best Arwen and Aragorn are cousins and given the long bloodlines of the elves, and Aragorn’s mixed bloodline, they wouldn’t be incestuously related. Aragorn’s bloodline is very much dominated by the human side, the Numenoreans, and is much more of a man who has some elvish genes than the other way round.

    Love how you point out that Tristran and Yvaine did not have to kill to gain their rightful places. Not that they didn’t in the adventures that are hinted at, with the wars and all, but it is a refreshing difference from so many similar stories. There is a lot of ‘live and let live’ going on in this story.

    I like the whole chess reference with the Castling, the idea of people being able to switch places. I would LOVE to get a novel about this particular Fellowship. Gaiman teases with just enough knowledge to make you want to know so much more.

    So thrilled that you participated in this one and enjoyed your answers. I look forward to talking about the film vs. this one when the time comes (28th).

    • nrlymrtl says:

      Another great read along. Thanks for taking me back to Stardust. I love how this fairy tale is not like others, where some witch or dragon or mad scientist needs to be killed in order to gain a kingdom. Definitely a different take.

      Yes, Victoria does have an interesting bit near the end. I kind of wish we could peer into her thoughts and see her reasons for being willing to hold to her word. Still, it was very sweet of Tristran to release her to pursue another.

      • I just take it that this is a story written in a time period where keeping one’s word is very important and an honorable thing to do. It may seem passe now, but I believe there was a time when it wasn’t so. It also echoes the “laws” of Faerie in which words, what is spoken, and agreements are very, very important and also very binding. Which is why we saw so many enchanted humans living as animals waiting for some special circumstance to come along to free them.

        • nrlymrtl says:

          I do like the idea very much of a person’s promise/agreement having weight. Too often that is not the case these days. So, I do enjoy seeing it in fiction.

  4. Jeremy says:

    For some reason, I liked when Tristran’s mother assembled the royal procession. I had been waiting for a better understanding of Tristran’s family history, especially in Faerie. When it was revealed so abruptly and regally, that he was of royal blood, it not only clicked a lot of things in place but after having spent a lifetime being sort of scorned for his strangeness and not really having much of loving mother (it had seemed to me in the beginning) it was really cool that Tristran got to see a vision of his family that was so special and well…over the top.

    • nrlymrtl says:

      I liked that Una had some vanity and wanted this big procession. I mean after years of scrubbing out someone else’s chamber pot, if you could order a flock of elephants to stomp you home in style, why not?

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