If you haven't read the book already, why not? You can find links to everyone else’s thoughts at Stainless Steel Droppings.
This week we read through to the end of the book.
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?
Tristran is still not your typical swaggering hero but he has matured rather well and become quite sensitive along the way. I was particularly impressed by the way that he handled Victoria’s announcement about Mr Monday, and I was surprised by her sensitivity about broaching the matter. I liked the way that we were shown the passage of a sensible amount of time within which Tristran and Yvaine could learn about one another and develop a relationship built upon understanding and trust rather than instalove. I get the impression that he became a true hero during their period of wandering, but I appreciate that this was only hinted at rather than laid out in detail.
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?
Yvaine’s story is so very bitter-sweet. She is separated from her mother and sisters forever and yet she finds love with Tristran, a mortal who will eventually die and leave her behind. I was very touched by her determination to do whatever it took to make Tristran happy, even if it meant being turned into a lump of rock by passing through the wall. I appreciated her staying quiet about her own feelings until he had worked out how he truly felt about Victoria. It was so nice to have a calm heroine who did not allow her emotions to splash all over the place and turn the story into a melodrama.
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?
In the end, I actually felt quite sorry for the brothers and I was left wondering how their family had survived so long. Primus seemed like a decent enough chap and was certainly quite fair to Tristran. While Septimus was certainly overconfident in his own abilities, I did not get the impression that he was a danger to anyone else and would have simply taken the topaz from Yvaine. In the end they were not really villains at all, just the products of a truly bizarre family ritual.
I was surprised by the way in which the Lilim was dealt with. Again, I was left with a feeling of sadness at this woman who was in a much worse situation now than she had been at the beginning. I dread to think what her ‘sisters’ will put her through when she returns to them. I love the way that Mr Gaiman can write such three-dimensional villains.
As for Sal: she got what she deserved. Perhaps, in future, she will consider paying people to work for her rather than enslaving them.
4. Were there any descriptions, characters, settings, plot threads that stood out to you personally during this second half of the book?
I think the thing that stood out for me most was the talking copper beach tree. I loved the idea that it was sentient, but transformed, and could still communicate when it was awakened. I have a bit of a thing for trees because they are such majestic and timeless individuals . . . sorry, that was my inner biology geek speaking there! :)
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?
There is certainly a great deal of similarity, with Yvaine separated from all the others of her kind and then left alone by the death of her husband. However, Arwen had things a little easier because she had children with Aragorn and there were also a few other elves who remained behind for a time, such as Legolas. This makes it even more interesting that Arwen chose to die and follow Aragorn, whereas Yvaine remains alone forever.
6. What are your overall impressions of the story now that it is done?
As always, Mr Gaiman has taken us on an entertaining journey through a land that seems familiar, and yet he has led us to an unexpected ending place and shown us sights that we would never have predicted. Within the context of a fairy tale I was surprised by the way that brute strength was never really important, nor did Tristran have any magical quality that won the day. He simply plodded along and did the best that he could with the minimum of fuss and the only magic he worked was to capture the heart of a star . . . and he did that without realizing it!
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?
Absolutley! I would like to know much more about the Fellowship and find out why they were watching over Tristran. I would also like to follow Tristran and Yvaine in their wanderings around Faerie and see him become a real, swash-buckling hero.