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Jepp, Who Defied the Stars

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  1,435 ratings  ·  323 reviews
Is it written in the stars from the moment we are born?
Or is it a bendable thing that we can shape with our own hands?

Jepp of Astraveld needs to know.

He left his countryside home on the empty promise of a stranger, only to become a captive in a luxurious prison: Coudenberg Palace, the royal court of the Spanish Infanta. Nobody warned Jepp that as a court dwarf, d
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 9th 2012 by Hyperion Book CH (first published October 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.70  · 
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 ·  1,435 ratings  ·  323 reviews

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Sergio Roque
Jan 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brandy Painter
Originally posted at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

Jepp, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh would not have been a high priority read for me were it not chosen to compete in this year's SLJ Battle of the Books. The premise intrigued me, but I probably would have waited until my library received a copy. BoBs prompted me to buy it and push it to the top of my TBR. I'm grateful for this because I LOVED it. (BoB, this more than makes up for making me buy Life: an Exploded Diagram last year.)

Lyda Phillips
Sep 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya
I am perhaps too close to this wonderful novel to judge it impartially since the author is my critique partner and I have read Jepp through many iterations. But I can truly say Jepp, Who Defied the Stars is a unique tale told straight from the author's heart.

Jepp, a young dwarf born at the dawn of the 17th century, is taken from his comfortable, loving home to become a pampered, but imprisoned, court dwarf in the household of the Spanish Infanta in the Spanish Netherlands. There Jepp is humiliat
Bill Gawne
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is an exceptionally fine YA book. Marsh has taken a person who is a footnote of history, the dwarf from Tycho Brahe's court, and woven a thoughtful, sensitive, and engaging tale about him. My granddaughter gave me this book for Christmas, knowing my interest in the history of astronomy. (I taught university astronomy classes for ten years.)

While the book is obviously written for the YA reader, it's one I'd recommend to anyone with an interest in the history of science, and especially the r
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Jessica Berger
Jan 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Rarely do I read a book that is written with such advanced skill as to evoke images of great poetry, while at the same time possessing a level of ease allowing even the most reluctant of reader to be swept into the story.

All of this leaves only one word to describe Jepp, Who Defied the Stars.


Now because you probably want more from a review than just one word I’ll say a bit more about the book. Jepp, Who Defied the Stars is one of the best written books I’ve read in a long while. It is fu
~✡~Dαni(ela) ♥ ♂♂ love & semi-colons~✡~
Jepp, a teenage dwarf living as an innkeeper's son in turn-of-the-17th-century Europe, goes to live at court as a sort of jester only to have to leave under rather inconspicuous circumstances. There follows a series of adventures as Jepp cavorts around the continent searching for his true family, in the end finding true love.

This book reads very young (short cliff-hanger chapters, overarching themes, glaring symbolism), although nothing about the protagonist made me feel like I was in the mind
Originally published here.

At seven years old, Jepp of Astraveld stood barely over three feet tall. That’s how travelers to his mother’s countryside inn between the Protestant north and the Spanish Netherlands knew he was a dwarf. At fourteen, when a Spanish Don from the Infanta’s court visited the inn, Jepp wasn’t much taller. On the plus side, the Don’s visit came with an invitation for Jepp to join the Infanta’s retinue of court dwarves. So with his mother’s approval and the promise of books a
Oct 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
I think I would read more historical fiction if more of it was like JEPP, WHO DEFIED THE STARS. But part of JEPP, WHO DEFIED THE STARS charm is that it is an unusual story, charming in its lack of concern with the commercial. Katherine Marsh has written an appealing bildungsroman that will stand out.

Jepp is a dwarf living happily in his mother's inn, when a nobleman comes through and entices him to go and become a court dwarf for the Infanta. (Yes, I did have The Decemberists' "The Infanta" stuc
Ambs ❤❤
This was an interesting read. I choose this book for two reasons, because it met the requirements for a book challenge (must have both a D and a J in the title) and it was readily available from the library. I didn't read the synopsis, nor any previous reviews, and I didn't pay attention to it's average rating. I came into this story completely blind (so to speak).

This was your run of the mill coming of age and adventures (or misadventures) of a young boy, who happens to also be a dwarf back in
Kayt Colburn
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I cannot stress just how fantastic this book is, and how perfectly it seemed to fit into my life when I read it. As you travel with Jepp on his journey to find out who he is and where he came from, you find yourself asking the same questions he does - do the stars hold our fate, or is it in our hands? The answers you find may surprise you. The historical elements added a unique flavor, and the use of language was gorgeous, "literary alchemy" is the only was I can describe it. I highly recommend ...more
DNF @ 43%

I picked this book up at a resale store because the main character was an LP. Rarely have I ever found an LP protagonist . . . if ever, to be honest? And in YA fiction too! There was nothing stopping me from purchasing it!

Unfortunately, what I thought would be some swashbuckling adventure turned out to be a horrible, never-lightening tragedy of a novel that basically displayed every single act of violence that could happen to court dwarves in a historical setting (I'm not sure which cen
Nov 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
Review originally posted here

The Premise: This is the story of young dwarf Jepp, who grew up in Astraveld, a crossroads between the Spanish Netherlands and the Protestant North. Loved by his mother, who runs a bustling inn, Jepp is treated like a prince and is fiercely protected. It is a good life, but when he is fifteen years old, a man comes by the inn, offering to bring Jepp to the court of the Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia and her husband, Archduke Albert of Austria. Eager to see the world
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book pulled me right into this 16th century world that I hadn't known much about--dwarves in the royal Spanish court. Jepp is such an endearing character whose life is spent answering the question about whether fate or free will determines his destiny (or a little bit of both). I really liked the conclusion he came to in the end. It was also interesting to follow up and study a little more about Tycho Brahe and his planetarium, as well as some paintings that showed dwarves in various royal ...more
Nov 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a sweet coming of age story about a courageous yet naïve dwarf at the end of the 16th century. Like all good historical fiction this novel has specific history to share with us; The Infanta Isabella with her dwarves in the palace of Coudenberg and Tycho Brahe's observatory, Uraniborg. I would have liked a deeper dive into both but it was enough. I loved the theme of fate written throughout and carried all the way to where the stars were studied and the horoscopes produced.
Oct 10, 2019 rated it liked it
3 stars.
Nov 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Originally reviewed on The Book Smugglers

Being a court dwarf is no easy task. I know because I failed at it.

In the small village of Astraveld, just to the south of Utrecht in the dangerous crossroads between the Spanish Netherlands and the Protestants to the North, a young boy named Jepp is born. In the safety of his mother's well-loved tavern, Jepp grows to be a considerate and learned - if self-taught and isolated - young man. Though he is a dwarf and subject to taunts from the occasional trav
Nov 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I’m not opposed to it, nor am I a great fan of it. I like the silhouette of Jepp, because his garb indicates it to be of a historical setting, and I do like the starry background (and of course, the title font is lovely). The style just looks a little kiddish for a young adult novel.

Characters: “Plucky” is not the word to describe Jepp, but he is one of those protagonists that, despite all of the injustices he faces (and he faces a great many), he manages to persevere and
Not an uninteresting story, but a little bit too predictable for my taste. A little too tidy to be compelling for me. I should add that historical fiction is not typically my cup of tea.
Barb Middleton
May 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Thunderstorms of flashbacks have been pummeling me this month. Done well, I don't really notice them. Done not so well, and they make cumulonimbus clouds build inside me. I prefer an author using flashbacks in the present and working them into the plot; this way a sense of urgency remains and the pacing doesn't slow down. Alas, while I enjoy Marsh's writing and character development, I didn't care for her flashbacks and parts of the plot.

Jepp is a dwarf in the 1600's who lives happily in a villa
Margo Tanenbaum
May 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm fascinated by the character of Tyrion Lannister, the cunning dwarf in Game of Thrones. You don't find a lot of literature with a dwarf as one of the heroes (or perhaps in Tyrion's case, an anti-hero). Perhaps my interest in Tyrion is why I picked up this book by Katherine Marsh about a teen-aged dwarf in 16th century Europe, but Jepp's story quickly engaged me on its own terms.

Jepp is living a relatively happy and protected life at his mother's inn in the countryside, until a wealthy courti
This was a fun read because it was different that what I feel has become 'popular' in YA/children's literature.

This book is classified as historical fiction, but after reading the authors notes at the end, it is a little more fiction and a little less historical for me personally to give it much merit as an historical book. But still, it is interesting to learn about that time period, a period that doesn't typically get written about.

The book is set in 1597 and spans many places across Europe. T
In the late 1500s, Jepp leaves his home and his beloved mother to seek his own fortune as a dwarf of the Spanish Infanta's court. As the court fool, he endures daily humiliations as entertainment, and though he longs to return home, he cannot. He's the property of the Infanta, and a prisoner of he court. When tragedy strikes, he is caged, sent far away to the famous Danish astronomer Ticoh Brahe. Jepp's life has changed yet again, but will he ever control his own destiny? Or is it written in the ...more
Lyd Stew
Sep 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
What an interesting read. I really didn't think I would like it... a strange story about a dwarf and astrology, but it is so much more, and I found myself totally carried along with him on his interesting journey. It was difficult for me to put down. I liked that it didn't over-hint at things that would be brought to light later. It didn't insult your intelligence, and it also kept some things an interesting mystery throughout a lot of the book. I liked the main character and the idea of a combi ...more
Nov 18, 2012 rated it liked it
This was a very sweetly written historical fiction for young adults. Strangely I picked this and City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte up at the same time and they both feature the same historical dwarf. However, Jepp is treated much more gently in this book. While he goes through some very difficult times, he ends up growing better and stronger for having had them. My only regret is that everything ends so neatly wrapped up. There is no lingering conflict, no moral dilemmas. It's a typical happy e ...more
Mar 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Katherine Marsh's tale of Jepp, a "court dwarf" in the Middle Ages, makes for fascinating historical fiction, especially since it's based in fact. She also poses the question: is our life already mapped out, written in the stars? Or do we make our own fate? This is what Jepp must decide as he leaves home and journeys all over Europe (not always by choice). A wonderful, fascinating, tender read! ...more
Mar 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Did you ever wonder what life would be like as a dwarf in the late 1500's? This book takes place in 3 far-flung settings: Jepp's mother's inn, the court of the Infanta, and Tycho Brahe's palace where scientists studies astrology and astronomy. I recommend it to young adult fans of historical fiction.
Dani 🌙
This was a very different and refreshing read, and I am really glad Brianna epic rec-ed it to me, because otherwise I don't think I would have read it. Though I was not always engaged while reading, and I had some other issues with the novel (I will go into more detail when I write my review), I still enjoyed the lovely message.

3/5 stars.
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Historical novel of Tycho Brahe 2 15 Dec 31, 2014 10:04AM  

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