Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria – even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristran learns, lies Faerie – where nothing, not even a fallen star, is what he imagined.
That’s sweet: Neil Gaiman is one of today’s most eloquent fantasy writers. He has worked with Douglas Adams, and his “Sandman” series is widely known. And many of you might know the film version of this story from 2007. I just realised that I have seen the film before I read the book that explains why the story seemed so familiar to me. Even though, the film adds scenes to the story that are funny but not in the book.
I loved the film, but I loved the book even more. It has a lovely quiet flow about itself. The story starts describing the setting of an imaginary Victorian England and the village of Wall. It gains its name from the huge wall that divides the here with fairy on the other side but once every nine years a market takes place in the meadow on the other side. And that is where the story begins: a love night on market day and the later arrival of a foundling baby in the village of Wall.
The foundling grows up to be Tristan Thorn, who believes himself to be a normal boy but learns in the end that he has a much bigger destiny to live up to. Then there is Yvaine, a fallen star in big trouble as quite a few fairy creatures are either after her or after what she is carrying.
The characters are drawn in a fairy tale way: Not much explanation. Things just happen as they happen which gives the story that quiet flow I was writing about above. Both Tristan and Yvaine have to see through a number of adventures alone but also together and even though she cannot stand him in the beginning he’ll grow on her.
Some of the adventures are quite hair raising, but that is just the way of fairy tales. In the end, everything falls into place even though not exactly as Tristan’s real mother expects.
That stings: The story has its lengths. There are some parts that I skipped. I had the feeling that Neil Gaiman got a little carried away with his fairy tale setting.
And the honey of it all? Even if you know the film, read the book as it gives a different feel and certainly is great entertainment.
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