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The Kindly Ones (Sandman, Book 9) [Paperback]

4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Jan 2006 Sandman Collected Library (Book 9)
Written by Neil Gaiman; Art by Mark Hempel, Teddy Kristiansen, and various; Painted Cover by Dave McKean Distraught by the kidnapping and presumed death of her son, and believing Morpheus to be responsible, Lyta Hall calls the ancient wrath of the Furies down upon him. A former superheroine blames Morpheus for the death of her child and summons an ancient curse of vengeance against the Lord of Dream. The "kindly ones" enter his realm and force a sacrifice that will change the Dreaming forever.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: DC Comics; Gph edition (4 Jan 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1563892057
  • ISBN-13: 978-1563892059
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 10.2 x 0.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 374,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute brilliance! 28 April 2001
Now THIS is comic book writing at its very best! The little incidents and foreshadowings that have rumbled away in the background of the whole Sandman series come together in a seamless and totally satisfying way. Most of the characters that you come to love are included, Lucien, Matthew, Lyta Hall, Thessaly/Larissa, Rose Walker, Nuala, Lucifer, The Corinthian, Loki...the whole cast! Even my own favourite Delirium. The reasons why Morpheus did certain things way back in the start of the series become clear, a web which will draw you in and spit you out at the end emotionally drained and reeling. Sheer genius; buy, read, wonder!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beware Newcomers 2 Sep 2008
Just a little word of warning here. I read "the kindly ones" having read only one of the previous stories (seasons of mist). Although reading this story without knowledge of everything that preceded it, is possible, it soon became apparent that there are way too many references to previous stories to make the experience totally satisfying. So, I'll have to catch up here and I would recommend everyone to start at the beginning.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sandman's grand finale 31 Aug 2003
By P. Nicholas Keppler - Published on
Although it is actually its second-to-last story arc, The Kindly Ones is, for all intents and purposes, the climax of Sandman, Neil Gaiman's acclaimed fantasy comic book starring Morpheus, a glum, superhuman entity who rules over the realm of dreams (The subsequent The Wake is like a long epilogue). While no previous Sandman story arc seemed like a continuation of a preceding one, The Kindly Ones is a meta-sequel of sorts that features characters and plot threads from Preludes and Nocturnes, The Doll's House, Season of Mists, A Game of You and Brief Lives. Likewise, new readers should best begin with one of the aforementioned volumes but those who have already devoured two of three of the preceding Sandman story arcs, will delight in this excellent conclusion.
The Kindly Ones features sub plots galore. But the main story concerns the abduction of three-year old Daniel Hall. Daniel is the child of Lyta and the late Hector Hall, who as The Fury and The Silver Scarab, respectively, were part of the superhero team Infinity Inc. In a series of events too complicated to recount here (see The Doll's House), the Halls were swept-up into the Dream World for most of Lyta's pregnancy. Because of this, Morpheus considers Daniel "his" and when the child is kidnapped, Lyta believes the Dream King the culprit. After the real captors trick her into believing that Daniel has been killed, Lyta seeks out the Kindly Ones, avenging spirits who torment and slay those who have killed their kin. Because he committed the mercy killing of his own son (see Brief Lives), Morpheus has little defense against the Kindly Ones as they ravage through the dream world.
Meanwhile, Nuala, a faerie princess who was made a "gift" to Morpheus (see Season of Mists) reluctantly returns to her homeland; Delirium, Morpheus' loopy kid sister who governs the realm of insanity, searches for her lost pet dog; Lucifer, who renounced the throne of Hell (also in Season of Mists), opens an LA nightclub and Rose Walker, the young American woman who was once a "dream vortex" (see The Doll's House) trots across the Atlantic.
One can surely deduce from the above recap that The Kindly Ones is a sprawling and ambitious opus (at 13 issues it is the longest Sandman story arc). And it works. Gaiman masterfully weaves together each facet of the tale, leading to a conclusion that does not disappoint. Marc Hempel's super-cartoony art is controversial among Sandman fans, but he has won me over. His images are bright, alluring and strangely conducive to the matter-of-fact manor in which Gaiman tells of fantastic creatures and events. The Kindly Ones was obviously meant to be the grand finale that capstones the Sandman experience and it succeeds on every level.
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The climax of a masterpiece 16 Jun 2000
By "lexo-2" - Published on
I first came across the Sandman because a flatmate of mine had some collections of it; her name was Nuala (hi, Nuala) and she was quite proud of the fact that Nuala is a character in the saga. Being generally allergic to fantasy of any sort (I'm usually a sternly Realistic sort of person) I picked up one of the books (I think it was "A Game of You") and was surprised to find myself quite enjoying it. Little did I know that I'd end up a total addict. I've now read the whole series, including both the Death spin-offs, and am somewhere at the back of the queue of people who would like to shake Neil Gaiman by the hand and thank him for repairing my battered faith in people's capacity for hope and renewal.
Enough about me. "The Kindly Ones" is the climax of this vast saga about the imagination. It's incredible that a story that was basically written on the fly could be brought to such a grandly symphonic and yet intensely moving end - even though it's not really an end. I mean, I write plays for a living, and wild horses with voluptuous succubi on their backs couldn't persuade me to try and come up with a new and brilliant episode per month. And yet, Gaiman did it.
If you haven't read the previous episodes it's not going to make a hell of a lot of sense, but basically what we're talking about here is a story about a man who's also a sort of god (Dream) and his realisation that he's not really able to change. The previous stories, written as the mood and the necessities of the plot came to Gaiman, are brought together here with fantastic skill and generosity. It's funny (Lucifer plays cocktail piano in a bar in LA), violent (a perfectly innocent minor character is burned to death for no better reason than a Norse god's caprice) and immensely sad; the recurring leitmotif is "All good things must come to an end", and you can sense that Gaiman is slowly and inexorably winding up this huge, sprawling, vastly entertaining and wonderfully intelligent story. And it's here, in The Kindly Ones, that the Sandman comics achieve story-hood; so many other comics glow and blaze and fade and disappear (or more frequently, fail to disappear - why did Doom Patrol need to continue after Grant Morrison gave it up?), but the Sandman is one of the few true modern epics. I can't think of a single "serious" novel published between 1989 and 2000 that aimed so high and hit so sure.
I sympathise with a previous reviewer who said that it came as close to making him cry as anything has done in his adult life (well, I've cried since I've passed 18, but not over a fiction.) The fact that it was followed by the marvellously mellow, bittersweet "The Wake" is an extra bonus. Fantastic stuff. It got me reading comics again for the first time in ages.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most powerful emotional experience literature can offer 30 April 1999
By A Customer - Published on
This is an order of magnitude better than the rest of this already best-of-the best comic series known as the Sandman. Gaiman takes every single plotline he's ever touched on and weaves them all together into one fiery coruscation of pain and joy and love and hate and comedy and tragedy and death and birth and...well, I could go on forever! Even better, for once it's a story arc that can last quite a long time (that graphic novel's nearly an inch thick!). It's the most immensely satisfying read(graphic novel or normal printed book!) that I've ever set eyes upon. PLEASE take my word, if you haven't read the Sandman, and read from the beginning to the end. Not only do you get the ingenious works preceding this, but you get THIS!!! Sorry for the capitals, but I feel more strongly about this than any other creative work I've ever seen.
Now, here's a more analyzing, less gushing side to why I love this so much. Let's start with the art. The art is amazing. It's a big change from the basic comic style of the other Sandman novels. This one is very expressionistic and the lines are very simple and nearly abstract. It makes a few characters hard to recognize until they're called by name, but it adds wonderfully to the drama, and a few characters look better than ever before(Delirium especially, not to mention ole Murphy and Death). The overlying drama is in the form of a towering tragedy, and it is in The Kindly Ones where we finally see the developments of everything that came before match up to drive home a truly powerful feeling. And the elusive, "is it good" criteria? This one went off the charts for me. And the end...oh, what an end. I _don't_ cry(Not because I'm some overly macho guy. I wish I could, but I'm so dead inside...thank you Neil for making me FEEL.), but I felt those tear ducts on the verge of pouring out years of unshed tears of pain and joy and affirmation and...didn't I already list those off?
In short, though short will never do justice to it, The Kindly Ones is the best story from the best series by my favorite author: no mean feat at ALL to be all of those. Please, pick this up after the first 8 Sandman graphic novels. Comics aren't just for kids anymore, and this one is too achingly beautiful to go unshared. Neil Gaiman is truly a god in his field and must be worshiped accordingly :). Enjoy!
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Vengeance and Furies' Anger 22 Sep 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Throughout the series, as a result of his 70-year imprisonment, Morpheus learned a number of humanizing lessons, that have made him a better person(ification) as a result. Here's the one he picks up in this chapter: "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."
In Frank McConnell's introduction to this particular corner of the Sandman Library, he lets us non-literary critic types in on a little deal called "post-modernism". He defines it as "letting the reader know you're conscious of what you're doing at the very time you do it." And you guessed it, these little ins-and-outs of Neil Gaiman's thought process run rampant through this volume, thanks mostly to an aspect of the three-in-one goddess, the fates. The seamstresses of lives, and the writers of destiny. The ladies are there to comment at the beginning, and the end of this story, and all throughout, as well. As are another aspect of the three (but not exactly them, of course. You and I are not a hand, or tooth or eye, but we have all of those IN us), the Furies/Kindly Ones.
When her infant child Daniel goes missing and is apparently killed, Lyta Hall blames Dream, and, in a waking dream-journey of insane and mythic proportions, (aided in no small part by that conniving little former lover of Dream's, Larissa,) Lyta happens across the Kindly Ones, and sets them on Morpheus. Not because of responsibility for Daniel's disappearance, but for mercy-killing Orpheus (spilling of family blood and all that.).
Meanwhile, Loki & Robin Goodfellow, who are actually behind the child's disappearance, are being tracked down by the reformed (in more than one way) serial-killer nightmare The Corinthian, and Dream's raven sidekick, Matthew.
Drawing some lightness into this otherwise dark tale are Rose Walker & Delirium's quests for things lost along their travels. For Rose, it's her heart, in a journey that leads her into a rather embarrassing moment at an airport, an unusual game of draughts, and that dank basement in Fawney Rig where our story began, meeting with her Grandparent, Desire.
Delirium, on the other hand, makes her way around the worlds looking for her dog, Barnabas. Her chit-chat with Dream about some of those things she's said all along that she know that no one else knows, is one of my fave bits. And, thankfully, bumps into Lucifer at his new nightclub, where has a nicely human chat with the young lady about his past encounters with her brother. And he refuses to play a selection from "Cats", for one of his patrons, even when offered a bribe. The walking incarnation of evil, maybe, but at least he's got taste.
The Furies, by the by, are attacking the Dreaming, killing its residents. As long as Dream doesn't leave, though, no true harm can come to the land. Better take the phone off the hook, there, Lord Shaper. In the end, though, events take place so that there's only one option left to the Dream King: Taking his sister's hand. And the grand plans he's had for Daniel Hall finally come to fruition.
At first, this book came as a minor disappointment to me. Neil's in top form, of course, taking fantasy, humanity, and soap opera and mish-mashing them together seamlessly. Marc Hempel & Teddy Kristiansen's art, while an unusual choice, works great, and is among some of the best and most expressive in the series. The surprising amount of detail in facial expressions comes in handy in the final couple of chapters. Kevin Nowlan's terrfic-looking prologue introduces the characters well. But the disappointment came, in part, because I chose to read this before most of the earlier books and I was a wee confused. Nickel's free advice: DON'T DO THIS. Lots of the plot points went over my head, as well as the conspiracy surrounding Loki & Puck. Gaiman explains in his afterword that he didn't explain this on purpose, and neither will I, though I'm pretty sure I know it. So, yes, now I have a greater appreciation for this book.
And in the end, what does that leave you with? A handful of yarn, of course. Same old story.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite book ever...and it's a comic book 25 Feb 2000
By Thessaly - Published on
The Kindly Ones is the climax of the series. I'm not going to talk about that part of the story. It's too huge, too--agh! You'll have to find out for yourself. This, the climax, is, of course, the most important thing in the storyline, but if I try to put words on the feeling it gives me I will miserably fail. Instead, I'm going to talk about the little reasons besides that main reason which, for me, make The Kindly Ones the best.

1) The Corinthian is in it: my favorite Sandman character second only to Dream himself. I can't quite say why, but I just love this character. Since The Doll's House I've found him absolutely fascinating, a creation of genius. And when he came back in Brief Lives, I practically jumped for joy. Unfortunately, that was only about three pages plus one panel. But now he's back again, and--yes! --He's a major character! And he's way more interesting in The Kindly Ones than he was in The Doll's House--this is a new Corinthian. Yes!

2) Delirium is in it, my second favorite of the Endless. She always brightens up a story; luckily, she doesn't steal the attention from Dream in this storyline, as she did in Brief Lives (although that was the right thing for that story, and not a drawback). Here, she's searching for her doggie and following her fish.

3) Thessaly's back! Dream's mystery lover from Brief Lives, last seen in A Game of You. I adore this character. (I also like her name very much, as you can tell since I stole it for my handle.) I always found her one of the most intriguing characters in the series, and I still wish I knew more about her...This is one of the great things about Sandman. Everyone finds their own favorite things to hook onto, a favorite issue, favorite character, that might not mean much to someone else, but somehow is really fascinating to you. Some people love Death or Nuala or Hob Gadling or Mervyn; for me, it's The Corinthian and Thessaly, and I love Brief Lives 3 and 9, A Game of You part 3 and 5, Season of Mists Epilogue, and Ramadan, to name a few. (Not to mention all of The Kindly Ones.) And you, no doubt, have your own favorites, or will have, once you read the series. If you haven't, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

One other reason why The Kindly Ones is the greatest: Marc Hempel's art. Some people hate it. I love it. I love the way he's managed to capture the look and expression of all the old characters while doing it in such a different, simplified style. I'm really glad that this crucial volume of Sandman was illustrated by someone with such talent, such a particular mood to his work.

I really can't express what _The Kindly Ones_ is in this brief review; read Sandman for yourself and find out. (I can't stress this enough. Read Sandman. Now. If you want me to tell you again, e-mail me and I will rant on and on about it.) However, being the ninth of ten volumes, this is NOT the place to start--go to Preludes and Nocturnes (Book 1) or The Doll's House (2) for that.
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