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

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  1,294 Ratings  ·  76 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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Carolee Wheeler
Feb 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
This book struck me as one of the most hackneyed, self-aggrandized depictions of what it is like to make art. I read all the glowing reviews and I still wonder what I missed.
Mary Robinette Kowal
Apr 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite
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.
David McGrogan
Mar 12, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a breezy and entertaining read, and I did find myself becoming emotionally invested in the trials and tribulations of the central character and his friends, but ultimately I can't shake the impression that this book is a (noble) failure. The interjection of a section of a Hungarian fairy tale towards the end of each chapter is an interesting device - and at times I felt like I wished I had just been reading a book of Hungarian fairy tales if that's what they're all like - but I'm not sur ...more
Nancy Meservier
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
Dev Null
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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
Feb 17, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Aug 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
This is a weird book, more of a collection of essays on art, the creative process, and collaboration than fiction. Nothing much happens: a starving artist in a struggling studio starts and finishes a painting, the studio holds a show that might be their last hurrah. I can identify with some of the essays (especially the ups and downs of creating something!), but the narrator is kind of a jerk / snob, and I'm not sure the parallel chapters of Hungarian folktales work particularly well or shed a w ...more
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is another one I read back in the eighties (just post-college), and then it's sat on my shelf for all these years waiting for me to come back to it.

The novel is a part of a series of "Fairy Tales" by various authors, and I can't remember that I ever did get around to looking up any of the others.

Like the world of art that much of the story is about, this is a book that I think a reader can either love or hate -- the main story revolves around Greg, an "classical" artist (in oils), who co-o
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My biggest problem with this book is that I'm done with it already.

It's a great book. I almost always enjoy Brust's work with framing devices, and this book about five painters is very well-framed. This book is also slightly about a Hungarian folk tale, which Brust may or may not have made up. But, he's Hungarian, and it's a folk tale, so even if he made it up, it's still a Hungarian folk tale.

This book lacks so many of the trappings I like (travel, wizards, space, lasers, life-and-death situa
Bryn (Plus Others)
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spec-fic
Reading this book was a very interesting exercise in many visions simultaneously. I read it once in my late teens or early 20s and liked it all right but was disappointed it was not a fantasy novel; I read it a few times more in my 20s and early 30s and each time found it spectacular, one of the best novels I had ever read in my life, so insightful and funny and wise and fascinating. And now here I am in my forties, having read much more broadly than the last time I picked up this book, and it i ...more
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
Unfortunately this book just wasn't my cup of tea. It never hooked me. I know he tried to be philosophical and make you think but I struggled to get past my opinion that it was all a contrived attempt at the view of an artist.
Mar 15, 2017 added it
Can't rate it yet... gotta study on it.
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm not one for novelettes but every time Brust writes something short, it's fabulous. It's been ages since I read something that wasn't Dragaeran by him, so this was bittersweet. The Dragaeran stuff is great, but isn't that all he's done, the last long-ass-time or so? His one-off stuff is so rad. This is another rad one-off. To be useful: fairy-tale told simultaneously with story of present(then)-day art collective kinda thing. Hard to describe in any way that does it justice. Plays/deals with ...more
Steven R. McEvoy
May 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 27, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, art
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
Feb 24, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Jun 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017
Being a huge fan of the Fairy Tale series in general I was looking forward to reading this book. I made it about halfway through before deciding to skim the rest of it because I couldn't stand the pretentious, self important narrator who attempts to lay down the law in terms of what is and isn't art. While I enjoyed the sections that dealt with the fairytale that Brust was tasked with adapting, I couldn't see the way that it fit with the rest of the story and ultimately didn't redeem the rest of ...more
Jun 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
A Hungarian folktale of great detail, told in bits over the course of the book and proceeding in parallel to the journey of the contemporary artist who tells it, this one's about the creative process. An original structure for a retelling too, and how unusual is that?: no magic in it except the maker's magic in creating art. I liked it lots, and Brust is at his best when he's got a demanding structure to work to. so here there's the creative process of solving the riddle of the folktale, the int ...more
Ariana Deralte
Apr 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Stephanie Graves
Sep 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 26, 2010 rated it liked it
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
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
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
Apr 30, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2008
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
Jan 19, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
Aug 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2010-faves
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.
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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...

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The Fairy Tale Series (8 books)
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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.” 2 likes
“And all of the late, late-night talks, when you're not stoned, but you're so tired you might as well be, when you just sit there glowing with warmth, and all of those things that you really hope for come out, and you connect with each other on such deep levels that, when you think about it the next day, you wonder if it was real - if the others felt it too.” 1 likes
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