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Literature: Stardust

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.

If you're looking for the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic/XCOM: Enemy Unknown and XCOM: Enemy Within crossover fanfic, go here.


Stardust contains examples of:

  • 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.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: The eldest of the Lilim. Played straight, as in quite a few of Gaiman's works. Played with in The Movie (imagine the scene in the castle of the witches, after Lamia's sisters die, and how the film would have ended if she truly were regretting it)
  • Another Dimension: Faerie
  • Aww, 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.
  • 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."
  • Cain and Abel: The customary method of royal succession is that the last prince to survive Free For All fratricide among his brothers becomes the heir.
  • Came from the Sky: Yvaine
  • Cool Sword: One that is made of glass.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Yvaine and Victoria both go through it.
  • Departure Means Death: If Tristran had taken Yvaine out of Faerie, she would have turned into a meteorite. Yvaine knew this and was prepared to step over the wall near the end of the book if Tristran didn't return her feelings and was still in love with Victoria Forester.
  • 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
  • Gate Guardian: The town of Wall appoints one of its citizens to watch the hole into Faerie to make sure none of the locals gets curious and wanders across.
  • Gender Bender: The goatherd chap gets this treatment.
  • Genre Savvy: When Primus comes into a town, he pays for lodging, brings his own food and his own drink, which he keeps an eye on (his brother loves using poison), and pays numerous vagabonds, children, and street rats to report to him if they see a person looking like his brother. He then sets passage on a ship, sells his horses and prepares to leave when one boy informs him when man matching his brother's description enters town. Primus enters his cabin on the ship and says not to be disturbed for any reason. Septimus proceeds to sign up as a sailor and get a man drunk enough that he injures himself. Septimus then signs himself up as a sailor on the ship his brother is on, as it leaves, with no one telling Primus because he asked not to be bothered. Primus watches the ship leave, as he had sneaked out, shaved his beard, and bought his horses back, opting to travel on land instead.
  • 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.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Lilim's final attempt to capture Yvaine fails because of the charm the Lilim placed on Ditchwater Sal which made it impossible for Sal to notice Yvaine's presence.
  • 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.
  • Irony: There's a lot in the book.
  • Karma Houdini: The Lilim 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.)
  • Klingon Promotion: How the princes try to gain the throne...at 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 a lace from his jerkin as the candle's wick; however the resulting candle is so small that he has to stick his hand in the fire to get it lit. His hand 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.
  • Master Poisoner: Septimus, whom the text notes is "one of Nature's poisoners".
  • 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 Gambit 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 700 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.
  • Shout-Out: A subtle one to one of Gaiman's other works
    Then Death came with in the night and whispered her secret into the ear of the eighty-second lord of Strormhold, and he nodded his grey head and said nothing
    • In addition, stars being people in one realm and celestial bodies in another is hearkened back to in Endless Nights.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Victoria is a mild example since she's genuinely a stuck-up brat who is sweet to Tristran more out of pity than any strong feelings toward him. However, she ends up sincerely guilty and sorry when Tristran ends up fulfilling the promise to her that she never expected him to keep, and is actually ready to fulfill her end of the bargain too. She also acts as a friend to Yvaine for the one brief time they meet.
  • 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.
  • Technicolor Fire: One witch recognizes the fire of another, because witches' fires burn strange colors.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Babylon candles, the Castle society's hinted-at signature move.
  • Threshold Guardians: Two of 'em, hired by the town to keep folk out of the Wall.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • When Trees Attack: Tristran gets in trouble with a hostile part of the forest early in his trip beyond the Wall.
  • 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.
    • Perhaps not so far...consider this: Stormhold Castle is the place from which the eighty-first lord threw the Power of Stormhold to knock Yvaine out of the sky in the first place. Given how high the book states her preferred tower reaches into the sky, she might be able to appreciate from afar or even commune with her former people.

Starbright and the Dream EaterLiterature of the 1990sStarfist
SatyrdayFairy TaleStardust
The StandFantasy LiteratureStar Shards Chronicles

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