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The Sun, the Moon, & the Stars (The Fairy Tale Series)

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  1,052 ratings  ·  58 reviews
Once upon a time there was a kingdom that lived in darkness, for the sun, the moon and the stars were hidden in a box, and that box was hidden in a sow's belly, and that sow was hidden in a troll's cave, and that cave was hidden at the end of the world.

Once upon a time there was a studio of artists who feared they were doomed to obscurity, for though they worked and they w
Paperback, 224 pages
Published June 15th 1996 by Orb Books (first published 1987)
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90 Miles to Freedom by K.C. HiltonThe Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. HeinleinThe Moonstone by Wilkie CollinsMoon Palace by Paul AusterBeneath the Neon Moon by Theda Black
101st out of 120 books — 41 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dev Null
What do you call a book that's a mix of Hungarian folklore and a peek into the lives of fictional modern artists? I got as far as "fiction", and "very very good"; you're on your own after that.

This was short (~200 pp - and I mean that as a compliment not a complaint) excellently-well-written, and full of interesting characters. It made me feel like I might start to understand some of what it is to be an artist, without all of that tedious learning to practice an art first. It doesn't really go a
Steven R. McEvoy
Returning once again to Steven Brust, I am now choosing to review not one of his Vlad Toltos or Dragaera books going on to a much deeper book by this very creative writer. There are two editions of this book that I know of. The current Orb edition and a much older Ace edition.

Quoting from the back’s of the books:

Once Upon A Time

there was a kingdom, that
lived in darkness, for the Sun, the
Moon, and the Stars were hidden in a box …
which was hidden in a sow’s belly …
which was hidden I a troll’s ca
Mary Robinette Kowal
This is one of my favorite books. The book interweaves a Hungarian Fairy Tale with a story of an artist who is trying to decide if it is time to pack it in.

It captures the creative process perfectly. I tend to pick this up and reread it when I'm feeling creatively blocked.
Zachary Jernigan
Next to RESURRECTION MAN, one of the best examinations of masculinity in genre fiction written to date. Also a cool book about myth and the making of art.
I read this based on the recommendations from several authors. I share their high opinion about the insights it portrays into the creative process and the creative mind. There isn't much story here, but the characterizations and the framing devices keep things moving and interesting.

I give it high marks for overall theme and structure. The intermingling of the current tale with a Hungarian folk tale and even the subject matter of the painting the narrator is working on is pretty brilliant.

On th
There are three meaning threads in this book. One is a reflection on art, made using a group of artists that share a studio, in the 80s (contemporary when published). The second is a Hungarian folk tale, the quest to put the Sun, the Moon and the Stars back in the sky. It interacts little (but there are a few moments) with the main thread, even if it is told by the main character. Then there is an additional meaning in the pictures chosen by the author to introduce each scene, which both tell us ...more
I thought this book would be really interesting. I was wrong.

Alright, well, that doesn’t capture all of it. The story was told in a very unique manner, I liked hearing about the narrator’s artistic creative process, and interspersed in the plot was a Hungarian folk tale. So maybe you can see why I thought it would be interesting. Unfortunately, I never liked the narrator — he was every bit as cocky as the other characters claimed — and the folk tale was included just for the sake of including a
Nancy O'Toole
Greg is a struggling painter. Three years ago he and a few friends decided to rent an art studio so they could create art together, but little has come out of it. The group of friends now have to decide whether they want to set up an art show, or close down the studio for good. Meanwhile, Greg is creating a large painting that depicts Uranus, Apollo, and Artemis. His struggle is mirrored in a Hungarian folktale called "The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars."

The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars is part of
One of the reasons I like Brust is that he is always trying different things, well different things mixed with hungarian folktales and so the main thread of this book is intercut with a fairly generic folktale about a taltos (mysterious wizard type) at the dawn of time who is going on a quest to hang the sun, the moon, and the stars in the sky so that the world can be bright. Greg, the protagonist narrator of this book, is one of a group of artists who share studio space. None of them are making ...more
I'm amazed at Brust's ability to to write in such different styles. This book broke each chapter down into multiple parts. One part dealt with the protagonists history with the artists around him, one dealt with what was currently going on with those relationships, one dealt with his actual work on the painting, one dealt with a Hungarian folk tale, and one dealt with philosophical insights into everything else. There was some overlap of course, but generally each section told its own part of th ...more
Jun 20, 2007 Proditor rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who breathes
But is is art?

Yes. Categorically, yes. Steven Brust has one great gift and that is his ability to tell a tale in such a way that it almost feels like he is in fact, right there telling it to you. This comes through very well in his Taltos series, but it reaches a pinnacle in The sun, the Moon and the Stars. I read another review that talked about the artistic process and how Brust might not get it...well, I say poppycock. He does get it. He also explains it like I might explain it to you over a
Thom Marrion
I read this shortly after graduating from art school and the whole story about trying to get an art show together and even justify whether or not you should be an artist in the first place spoke to me so strongly at the time. I love this book a lot and despite being relatively unknown, it is my favorite Steven Brust novel.
Recommended in a roundabout way by my dear friend Greg, who sent me his collection of quotes once years ago--one lengthy passage from this book included ("The Temple of Isstvan", if you wondered). I ran across it in a used book store for a dollar and snatched it up.

I was sad to see it's gotten some bad reviews, though I can understand it even if I don't agree with it. It's not a very linear narrative--the setting bounces back and forth between a fairy tale about a man who sets out to place the S
probably should have abandoned this book, but I wanted to know how the hungarian folkstory played out. another reviewer described it as 'one of the best examinations of masculinity in genre fiction written to date' and there it is, the reason this book makes me nose-scrunch.
Ariana Deralte
I freely admit that this was not my type of novel. The artist sections of this book were so self absorbed and pretentious, I started skimming them just to get to the folklore bits, which were masterful. So then I found myself torn between enjoying the folklore, and liking that it was meant to shadow the art story, but on the other hand, hating the protagonist, and being utterly bored by the artist sections. Is there anything more masturbatory than reading about an artist creating art? My only co ...more
This book was OK. It provided amazing insight into the artistic process and how artists see the world. The main character was complex and flawed. The author showed him as highly insightful while still really blind to his own faults (aren't we all?), which made listening to his inner dialog more interesting.

Unfortunately, the plot (if there is one at all) isn't compelling. The Hungarian folk tale woven through the modern day tale is far more fascinating. I kept waiting for them to intersect, but
This books is different from Brust's other novels. In this book he "retells" a Hungarian folk tale while also exploring the life of a young artist. Apparently this was part of a series of retold fairy tales. The s tructure of the book was interesting. Very regimented, each chapter had five sub-parts which each had a slightly different style. One was about the past, one the present, one about painting, one about art and one part of the fairy tale. The structure allowed Brust to tell multiple stor ...more
M.E. Garber
Having trained as an illustrator for a few years in college (before switching to graphic design), I really enjoyed the protagonist's thinking about painting, and the descriptions of the painting (affectionately known as "The Monster") he works on during this novel's progress. At first I was bothered by the swapping story lines, going from past history to a Hungarian folktale the protagonist tells his companions, to current works, etc. But as I got used to it, I fell into the rhythm, and learned ...more
I really enjoy Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos series. Maybe it's the humor that accompanies Vlad that appeals to me so much. So I was excited to read a fairy tale by Brust. Unfortunately, I didn't really like it. The story is about a group of struggling artists in the 1980s and their attempts to make an art studio work. The fairy tale is about three gypsies, well, one in particular, who overcome certain obstacles in order to put the sun, the moon, and the stars back in the sky. I admit, that I still ...more
This one felt like two separate stories - first, the one of a struggling artist as he goes through life learning, making friends, trying to keep his studio open, and trying to pay his bills solely through his art. The second, the one of three gypsies trying to put the sun, the moon and the stars into the sky.

While I really liked both stories, I don't really understood how the modern one connected with the fairy tale. I saw more parallels between the painting Greg was working and his current even
Structure and writing are great. It's an eighties contemporary piece that sounds authentic, which can be really difficult to digest at times where conversation is concerned. It might teach one how to approach a painting -- as in, to paint one.
Julie Cordova
I feel like I missed something...but I don't know...hmmm.
Michelle Cristiani
Three simultaneous stories: one of a painter's work as it unfolds, one of his life as artist with his studio-mates, and one a Hungarian folk tale that he tells his friends, which unfolds as his own story does. The stories jump back and forth seamlessly, and though I know zilch about painting I still enjoyed reading detailed descriptions of a painter's technique and process. I also learned a lot about Hungarian folk tales and art history.
The reflections on art and the depiction of the process of creation rang very true. After reading this I wanted nothing more than to go out and buy a big canvas and some oil paints and start working.

This is not really a novel in the usual sense of the term; there's not much plot and not even that much character interaction. I'm not sure if how well it would work for someone who had no experience with art. But I found it wonderful.
Jan 19, 2012 Kim rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
The book is about an artist and his life. Intertwined is a Hungarian folk tale. The parallelism between the two stories grows stronger as the book unfolds. In each story the goal is to reach higher and achieve something that will bring beauty to that person, or the ones surrounding them. The struggles they feel, the ugliness they face, in the end they place the Sun, the Moon and the Stars in their lives. I enjoyed reading it.
Jen V
Dec 13, 2007 Jen V rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Artists, Steven Brust fans.
This book explores an artist's journey in understanding himself, those he cares for, and his own creative process. Intertwined with this is a Hungarian folk tale which also tells of a journey to enlightenment. The book is complex and well written. The somewhat archaic folk tale melds nicely with the easy manner and first person account in the main story.
A short & sweet book. Not much of a plot, but a good narrative voice and an interesting format. Largely about artists, which I'm not, which may be why I didn't really get the parallelism between the contemporary part and the Hungarian folk tale part, but each separately is a nice read so it doesn't detract if you don't get it.
Mindy Haig
I read this book years ago. I love folklore. I am part Hungarian. Both of my parents are artists. I hated this book.
However, it has been a long time since I read it and hated it, and if it's ability to remain stuck in my memory (even in a bitter way) means anything, then perhaps it achieved it's purpose as art.
Here the meaning of what it is to be an artist is laid out plainly, and a little not so plainly. There's also a great deal of introspection involved, which leads to the necessary evalution of aspiration. It'd difficult to sum up why this book is so good, and exactly how it changed me.
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Steven Karl Zoltán Brust (born November 23, 1955) is an American fantasy and science fiction author of Hungarian descent. He was a member of the writers' group The Scribblies, which included Emma Bull, Pamela Dean, Will Shetterly, Nate Bucklin, Kara Dalkey, and Patricia Wrede, and also belongs to the Pre-Joycean Fellowship.

(Photo by David Dyer-Bennet)
More about Steven Brust...

Other Books in the Series

The Fairy Tale Series (8 books)
  • The Nightingale
  • Snow White And Rose Red
  • Tam Lin
  • Briar Rose
  • Jack of Kinrowan
  • White as Snow
  • Fitcher's Brides
Jhereg (Vlad Taltos, #1) Yendi (Vlad Taltos, #2) Taltos (Vlad Taltos, #4) Phoenix (Vlad Taltos, #5) Dragon (Vlad Taltos, #8)

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“That's what does it-- that moment where you think you're lost, and then discover that you're not, that you've never really left. There's something that happens in that incredible tiny no-time, and that something is like the revelation of learning.” 1 likes
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