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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a shaky start to an amazing series
I'm a big fan of Neil Gaiman's novels and television work, so I decided to branch out and give his Sandman series a go. I'm not a comic book/graphic novel reader at all - the last time I picked up a comic, it was an Archie one, if that tells you anything? - so I started reading Preludes and Nocturnes without any real idea of what to expect. Hopefully if you're in the same...
Published on 23 Sep 2012 by Tasha S.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not too sure about this. Main character is impossible to relate to, and it's just a bit weird.
I was given this for my birthday by my brother, and being a graphic novel reader, I had heard of Sandman but never read it. I had always put it under the heading of "being too weird for me." However, I'm glad I finally got the chance to read it.

I have read some of Gaiman's other works: Stardust was a good fairy tale read that I enjoyed immensely, and I have...
Published 8 months ago by TS


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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a shaky start to an amazing series, 23 Sep 2012
I'm a big fan of Neil Gaiman's novels and television work, so I decided to branch out and give his Sandman series a go. I'm not a comic book/graphic novel reader at all - the last time I picked up a comic, it was an Archie one, if that tells you anything? - so I started reading Preludes and Nocturnes without any real idea of what to expect. Hopefully if you're in the same boat as me - comic book ignoramus with an interest in reading more of Gaiman's work - this review may be helpful to you.

First off, Sandman is just as fantastic as everyone has told you it is. It's macabre and madcap and thoughtful and sometimes just flat-out, unashamedly poetic. I hadn't realised comics could be so thoroughly lyrical, but there are times I've sat there reading and just been blown away by how beautiful it all is. Sandman reminded me a lot of American Gods and Anansi Boys, at times, but it also stands on its own as an original and really excellent piece of work. If you can get hold of the whole series and bunker down for a long reading session, I highly recommend that you do. You won't regret it.

That said, I've got to be honest: I didn't like Preludes and Nocturnes.

Preludes and Nocturnes plants the seeds of the bigger stories that follow. It also introduces us to our main protagonist Dream of the Endless, reveals the tragic and eerie world of the series, and also gives us our first meeting with Death (who is awesome, so awesome). But as a whole its the weakest volume of the series. The writing is really hit and miss - Gaiman admits in the volume that he thinks is a lot of it is not his best work, as he was still getting the hang of writing a serial comic, and he's dead right. There are also a number of 'guest stars' in the volume, who I think are well-known comic book characters, and I felt they detracted from the original feel of the story. The violence in Preludes is also pretty off the scale. This may not bother a lot of readers - if so, more power to you! - but there were particular moments when I felt sure I was going to toss my cookies.

But it's worth bracing yourself and working your way through Preludes, because what follows is absolutely worth the effort. Once you begin reading Doll's House, you'll be hooked. Guaranteed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not too sure about this. Main character is impossible to relate to, and it's just a bit weird., 12 April 2014
I was given this for my birthday by my brother, and being a graphic novel reader, I had heard of Sandman but never read it. I had always put it under the heading of "being too weird for me." However, I'm glad I finally got the chance to read it.

I have read some of Gaiman's other works: Stardust was a good fairy tale read that I enjoyed immensely, and I have been recommended American Gods and Neverwhere, which I will digest in due course. So I know he is capable from both first hand experience and word of mouth.

That said....this volume left me feeling pretty flat. The first problem is simply that it's 'magic' based and is thus very hard for the reader to understand the limitations of the character/hero and his power/weakness etc. This makes it almost impossible to feel anything toward the character. He is emotionally flat, and I personally felt this didn't really develop as the story went on.

SPOILERS AHEAD: (QUITE BIG ONES!)

So, problem one is the main character who is basically beyond comprehension. He has unrecognisable motives which seem to change according to the story (uncertainty and fear of the hellish competition before suddenly accepting, his treatment of Dr. Destiny when he gets free and then on their later confrontation, his abandonment of Rachel's dad who, living, is plastered in the inside of a room, saving Constantine from the falling dream and then willingly walk out, blithely leaving a woman to die in agony...it just seems inconsistent, and this just alienates the character further). This is even more the case when he regains his strength - he then becomes a walking 'deux ex machina' after that.

The other problem I have is that it seems too much effort was put into making this 'gritty' and subverting genres in order to generate surprise. The inhabitants of the Dreamland are pointless (Cain and Abel and their monster were an unexplained diversion, Hell and its inspiration from Dante's Inferno, the devil itself, etc. etc). And the last 'story' where Dream meets his sibling is also pointless - there is no conflict, fear, threat or need for resolution. As for the violence - I think less could be more. Think the violence of the BBC's 'I, Claudius,' filmed in the 1970s, and compare that with the modern 'Game of Thrones.' One shows the results of the violence, not the event itself. I think allusion here is stronger than constant gratuitous violence.

The stories themselves are a mixed bag. In order, they conform to a single story arc and are:

Sleep of the Just
Imperfect Hosts
Dream a little dream of me
A hope in hell
Passengers
24 hours
Sound and Fury
The sound of her wings

They basically cover the following premise: in 1916 an old man loses his son at the Battle of Jultand and returns to a wizard with a magical tome who has said he can conquer death and bring his son back. As usual with this sort of thing, the spell goes awry (has it ever worked?) The result is Dream is captured in Death's place - and has to wait 70 odd years to escape and retrieve what was stolen from him by his captors and their descendants. The journey takes Dream back to his ruined home dimension, fallen into neglect, into the heart of the city of Dis to confront Satan and contest the right to reclaim his property in a competition with a demon, and to call on various mortals (John Constantine and Mr. Miracle) to help. Finally, he has to confront Dr. Destiny, who he cursed with 'eternal waking' after originally escaping, and who now wields Dream's all-powerful magic ruby to bring nightmares to life and cause chaos across the world. After abusing the varied clientèle of a 24 hour diner, with rape and torture and fights to the death all included, the fight moves to the Dreamworld where . . . it ends in a bit of a contrivance, to be frank. Finally, Dream consults his sibling for a bit of a heart to heart in a pointless finale.

There are a few other things that don't make sense in the story: how did Dr. Destiny know where the ruby was? (Dream needed to ask a few costumed heroes about it, whereas Destiny simply hijacked a car with a young woman and knew where to go. Another point is how Dream gets overpowered by the ruby at a critical moment, though this might be explained, if you were in a generous mood, of Destiny saying he'd tinkered with it some years before, even though it is supposed to be part of Dream himself).

CONCLUSION:
There are weaknesses in this volume that do detract from its enjoyment. But it should be remembered that it is the first in a series, and like all works in a first series, it takes time for it to settle into a coherent rhythm. (Neil notes something along these lines in the notes included in the end of this volume). I am surprised it was taken up for a second series, but from its reputation it would appear to be warranted.

In short, as a newcomer to Sandman, this volume was weaker than I had expected it to be given the series reputation. That said, I will read volume 2 and 3 eventually to see how they compare. My suspicions are that they will be superior to this.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The book itself is great, and looks great - but I downloaded it ..., 29 Aug 2014
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Should have read the reviews first. The book itself is great, and looks great - but I downloaded it to the Kindle app on my iPad Mini, where it's useless.

You can't read half the text because it's too small - OK, maybe this was my fault for expecting to be able to read it on a smallish screen. But you can't enlarge it (other parts of the page get bigger when you click on them - just never the bits you need), you can't rotate it, and now I can't even download it to another device - for example, my laptop, where the screen is bigger.

Big mistake.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shaky start, 16 Dec 2014
By 
Sam Quixote - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Sandman TP Vol 01 Preludes & Nocturnes New Ed (Sandman New Editions) (Paperback)
I read this one some 10 years or so ago when I was slowly returning to comics and, having re-read it now, I still maintain that Preludes and Nocturnes is a poor place to start with this series - though it’s a decent book.

My first time around, I read Sandman totally out of sequence starting with Vol 3, then Vol 5, then a couple more volumes (I was just grabbing whatever was on the shelves that week!) and I read Vol 1 towards the end thinking what an unimpressive first volume it was.

I’d recommend someone looking to understand the brilliance of this series to start with the standalone books, Vol 3 and Vol 6 rather than with Vol 1 - those are much more representative of why people love Sandman so much.

Alright - enough prelude! Onto the… nocturnes… ?

Set in the early 20th century, an Aleister Crowley-esque type tries to summon Death and gain immortality - except he botches the spell and gets Dream instead. Dream is imprisoned for 70 years until he escapes and begins to resume his role in the universe. But first he must gather his instruments: his helm, his dreamstone, and his bag of sand.

My biggest complaint of this book is the same criticism I have for a lot of Neil Gaiman’s work: the pacing is much too slow. But this is especially pronounced in a comic! Gaiman’s style was - and is - that of a long-winded storyteller who can spin a good yarn but will not be rushed and this can lead to a much less exciting read.

Not only that but he comes from the Alan Moore school of writing comics where each page is severely bogged down with blocks of text. Though, unlike Moore, its more clumsy in this one and feels like Gaiman is still learning to write comics by trying to make his novelistic approach fit a different genre and not quite succeeding.

That and Gaiman clearly hasn’t found his voice yet. The first volume is very horror-centric in sharp contrast to the rest of the series which leaves this hackneyed approach behind to successfully blend fantasy, the cosmic, and Gaiman’s own style into something unique. It’s a bit of a muddle to wade through which is why it’s a bit unfortunate that this is the first volume where a lot of people will start and which is bound to put some readers off from sampling the rest of this excellent series.

You can also see Gaiman relying a bit too much on the DC Universe in this first volume whereas later - though some DCU characters and locations crop up now and then - Sandman’s original cast becomes the central focus. Arkham Asylum puts in a cameo where we meet Jonathan Crane aka Scarecrow, and, as Dream sets about collecting his necessaries, he encounters John Constantine, Martian Manhunter, and Etrigan.

We also meet a lot of new characters who will go on to become quite beloved by the fans: Cain and Abel, Lucien, the Hecateae, Lucifer Morningstar (who will get his own spin-off title), and, arguably the most popular character Gaiman’s ever created, Death, Dream’s sister (who also gets a couple of standalone books).

Besides introducing characters, Gaiman’s first go at Sandman indicates the kind of series it will become. While Gaiman references earlier incarnations of the character like the 1930s Wesley Dodds Sandman (Dream’s helm looks a lot like Dodds’ gas mask), and a dream sequence drawn in a Jack Kirby style (a nod to the 1970s Kirby Sandman), Gaiman’s Sandman is decidedly more modern and set in a richly imaginative world.

Beginning to distance itself from the DCU, Gaiman’s Sandman goes to Hell, he battles an evil magician across space and time, and, more importantly, he begins to explore the potential of dreams. This is the reason behind the series’ success: dreams. Because ANYTHING can happen in a dream meaning anything can happen in this series and you can see Gaiman beginning to realise that potential in this book. In one particular dream sequence the art switches to pure Kirby so we suddenly get a three-page Fourth World-esque strip out of nowhere!

I know some people don’t like Sam Kieth’s art in this book and, to be honest, when I first read this I didn’t much care for it either. But I’ve since read Kieth’s The Maxx and come to a new appreciation of his style. His art in this book is more restrained than in The Maxx but he brings the fantastic when he needs to and the kind of bizarre comics he creates is a good fit for the type of comic Sandman is aiming for. Mike Dringenberg and Malcolm Jones III’s art is also very good though, going back to the horror theme, there’s far too much black on the pages.

There’s a lot to like about this first volume: a lot of ideas and imagination swirling together, some great episodes like Dream going to Hell and meeting Lucifer, or John Dee’s 24 hour nightmare issue in the diner, and Dream and Death’s first scene together. But there’s a lot of chaff here too and it’s less like reading a comic and feels too often like reading an illustrated book.

Sandman Vol 1 might not be a great comic but it leads into a great series and, if you weren’t that impressed after reading this and was wondering what all the fuss is about, keep going because it gets a lot better very quickly. Better yet, skip Vol 1 entirely and come back to it later!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The start of something extraordinary, 28 April 2001
Here starts the story arc of The Sandman, one of the seven Endless who are manifestations of aspects of life. The story starts with Morpheus being mistakenly trapped by a Crowley-esque magician, who was angling to ensnare his big sister, Death and thus ensuring himself immortality. Unsure what to do with the silent Dream, he leaves him locked in a basement for over 70 years. Dream waits patiently; in the meantime his Realm is falling into ruin and dreamers all over the world suffer. When he escapes, Dream has to gather together his symbols of power, taken by the magician and stolen by his friends, in order to retake his Realm. His quest leads him into the path of the Kindly Ones, Justice League of America characters, Arkham Asylum and a brief trip to Hell. Meanwhile, Doctor Dee is playing very sick games indeed with some people trapped in a diner with him...The story concludes with the ever-miserable Dream brooding (for a change) while his perky sister Death tries to give him a dose of perspective. If I tried to cram all the references, foreshadowing and allusions that Gaiman crams into just one book, I would be here a looong time. Suffice to say, read it, read it again and then , after a bit of a ponder, read it again! I am always finding new things in the whole series. Gaiman is one of those rare comic book authors in that he rounds out his characters' psychologies. You may not like Dream much to begin with, but you will weep buckets come the Kindly Ones. Cannot recommend this highly enough to anyone with a heart, soul or brain...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sandman #1, 15 Oct 2013
This review is from: Sandman TP Vol 01 Preludes & Nocturnes New Ed (Sandman New Editions) (Paperback)
The Sandman is a landmark comic series; right up there with The Dark Knight Returns, V for Vendetta, Watchmen and Sin City its appeal has transcended the traditional comic market and it is still one of the most loved and revered series to date. Although The Eternals and Marvel 1602 were great books, it is in The Sandman, a collection of stories that are timeless, resonant and universal, that Neil Gaiman shows off his mastery of the comics genre. Preludes and Nocturnes is the first of twelve trade paperbacks and collects issues 1 to 8 of The Sandman.

The first seven issues collected in Preludes and Nocturnes comprise the "More Than Rubies" story-arc that introduces Dream [or Morpheus as he is also known] and establishes the world of The Sandman. The series begins in 1916, with Dream having been captured and imprisoned by Roderick Burgess, a magician who had hoped to capture Death and so achieve immortality. With no immediate avenue of escape open to him, Dream has no choice but to bide his time as best as he can until his captor dies and he is, indirectly, freed. However, when Burgess does eventually die, his son Alexander takes over as Dream's captor until finally, in 1988, he inadvertently weakens the containment spell and Dream is able to invade the sleep of his captors and secure his freedom. After punishing Alexander with an unending cycle of nightmares, a weakened Dream journeys to his realm via the dreamscape and begins a quest to locate his missing totems of power.

Preludes and Nocturnes ends with "The Sound Of Her Wings", an important single-issue story that serves as an epilogue to the preceding story-arc. Dream's older sister, Death, is introduced as she attempts to talk Dream out of a brief period of depression. Gaiman's interpretation of Death - a young, attractive and mellow Goth lass - is very different from the norm and, even though she features only briefly in Preludes and Nocturnes, it is easy to see why she became one of the most popular and important characters in The Sandman universe.

There is certainly a great deal of hype surrounding the whole of The Sandman series and its promises of literary greatness, but newcomers can rest assured that the hype and the praise that is heaped on the series is greatly deserved. The Sandman was a truly innovative project and one that Neil Gaiman pulled off with great aplomb; in the same vein as Alan Moore's work on Watchmen, with The Sandman Gaiman demonstrated just how good [and weighty and important etc] comics can be and, in doing so, widened the appeal of the genre considerably. The Sandman took itself seriously in a good way. The stories that make up the series are dark and deep; Gaiman's writing is always intelligent as well as emotive, references to history, myth and comics lore abound, and the action always serves a purpose.

While Preludes and Nocturnes may not be the cream of The Sandman crop, it still features two excellent stories and would no doubt be considered the pinnacle of the story if they were featured in other, lesser series. Although he is clearly still working through ideas about the character of Dream, Gaiman is at his creative best throughout the whole of the series and Preludes and Nocturnes contains an ideas bonanza that forms the foundations of the later volumes. In this first volume, the back-story of Dream is established and many important characters and themes are introduced. He may be the embodiment of dreams and so extremely powerful within certain confines but, selfish, insensitive and prone to melancholy, Dream is certainly a flawed hero. Gaiman takes a lot of time introducing Dream and building up the different layers of his personality so that The Sandman series is able to rest on the shoulders of a firmly established and intriguingly ambiguous central character.

In the same way as Gaiman still developing his story ideas in this volume, the artwork in Preludes and Nocturnes is a little hit and miss, with the final style of the series only being established towards the end of the book. Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg and Malcolm Jones III each get a turn to demonstrate their vision for The Sandman in this first volume. All three were quite new to the comics medium when they began working on The Sandman and their styles were still developing. Kieth did great work capturing the horror elements of the story with his visceral renditions of Hell and its gruesome inhabitants, while Dringenberg offered a great portrayal of Dream and created the unusual image of Death that was to prove so popular. Jones' illustrative line work brought a cohesive and definitive look to the whole series. There is one particular artistic highpoint on display in Preludes and Nocturnes though - Dave McKean's excellent painted [and assembled] covers set the benchmark for all cover artists.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great writing, great art, great for fans of Gaiman, 12 July 2011
By 
Lark (North Coast of Ireland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
I was aware before I opened this comic and read the introduction that The Sandman was among some of the principle writing which established Neil Gaiman's profile.

On the other hand I would not describe myself as that knowledgeable about comics and sometimes avoid more popular or cult following material from the comics scene.

As I had been advised (and almost allowed to put me off) the comic does feature the Sandman of fable, who brings sleep and dreams, in appearence he resembles a slightly stereotypical goth but also, I thought, some of the pictures which I've seen of Gaiman himself.

The story begins with some occultists during one of the world wars attempting to trap death himself in a ritual, they manage to accidentially trap Morpheus AKA The Sandman. There is some good story telling about the immediate consequences, the sleeping sickness which is the subject matter of non-fiction accounts such as Awakenings among other things is ascribed to this action. The passage of years experienced the same but none the less not meaning the same to mortals as immortals and a certain kind of entropy result in Morpheus' escape. The story is then taken up with his struggle to recover from his captivity, to retreive his lost tools of his trade and re-establish himself and the role he plays.

There is a real element of Gaiman standing on the shoulders of giants when it comes to his writing, similar to Alan Moore. There are a lot of great references to other and older DC universe subjects or material.

Arkham Asylum features, as does the Justice League, John Constantine from the Hellblazer comics and film of the same name and my personal favourites (especially since the characters are artistically rendered as the originals were or at least very closely to them) Showcase Presents: The House of Mystery Vol 01, Showcase Presents: House of Secrets (Showcase Presents) and Showcase Presents: Witching Hour v. 1. In some ways the cartoonish baffoonery of these tales are shown in a new, slightly more sinister light, for instance Abel's torments of Cain look a lot more like vicious domestic violence, it is suggested that the three witches are in fact the three fates.

I have always thought that Gaiman and Moore were strong writers because they could bridge well the themes of earlier, possibly more innocent, fantastical story telling with critical appraisals of the same.

This is a fine example of the same and, as with other examples of Gaiman's writing, he is able to reawaken the simultaneously thrilling and frightening in the stories which we were all told as children but forgot about.

My only complaint about this comic volume perhaps is that the art work is not really consistent throughout, it is probably a matter of personal taste but there is some of it which I like and others which I dont. The storytelling is consistent throughout, no jarring change of style or pace or content.

I recommend this to anyone who is a fan of Gaiman or a fan of horror or spook comics. It is great, although I would consider it material for more mature readers, not because it is especially adult in its content but I feel they may appreciate it better than younger readers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting, 22 Mar 2011
Having never been much into the strange world of "graphic novels" and despite being massively into the novels and short stories of Neil Gaiman, I've always put off giving the Sandman a run.
But then (one glorious day), after discovering some unused gift credits in my account, I decided to give it a go...
And i certainly wasn't disappointed.
Definitely something different... and quite disturbing in parts... but amazing stories told by an incredible story teller... What's not to love?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 4 Mar 2011
By 
R. Martin "The Demon" (Britain) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Better things are to come for Sandman the series becomes far more like a childhish fantasy typical og Gaiman reflected mainly in the artwork. The early issues are pure horror at it's best with a ridiculously imaginative character and a beautifully crafted opening arc. In short AMAZING the art is exquisite and the tales do come across as a little akward in some parts. This doesnt affect my enjoyment. I have had books hyped up o me before but nothing will ever come close to the feeling i got when i read this bad boy for the first time. It only gets betetr from here. It starts pretty normally and heads into an unorthodox path. I envy you if you are reading for the first time.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good story, poor artwork, 22 Oct 2014
By 
joseph wheeldon (Peterborough, England) - See all my reviews
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The stories contained in this volume are good. I like Neil Gaiman and enjoy most of his novels. I only gave this a 3 star review due to the artwork of the book. I think this would be a much better book if the artwork was more serious and dark. If Dave Mckean did the artwork throughout all of the books like he did with Arkham Asylum it would have been such a fantastic book. However, the colours are very bright and in your face, the artwork is a bit childish and for me it took away the effect of the adult themes and dark unertones of the story. If a Demon doesn't look scary, it isn't a very good demon for me.
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