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5.0 out of 5 stars Fables of the Endless, 22 Feb 2014
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Sandman TP Vol 06 Fables And Reflections New Ed (Sandman New Editions) (Paperback)
"The Sandman, Vol. 6: Fables and Reflections" is not quite as essential to the main storyline as the other Sandman short story collections.

But that doesn't mean it isn't a spellbinding, haunting series of stories, ranging from whimsical glimpses into the Dreaming to dark stories about the consequences of power. Neil Gaiman imbues every story with a sense of richness, mining mythology and history for the backdrops of his tales -- and every single one casts a powerful spell over the readers.

The stories include:
-A theatrical director whose fear is reflected in a nightmare of falling.
-The story of Joshua Abraham Norton, the first and only Emperor of the United States - and the center of a struggle between Morpheus and Desire.
-Lady Johanna Constantine sets out to post-Revolutionary France to retrieve a very unusual severed head for Morpheus, and must fight against the repressive, destructive regime.
-An old legend of a werewolf obsessed with the portrait of a lovely young lady, and the lengths he goes to to find her.
-A Roman Emperor who becomes a beggar for a day, reflecting on his horrendous past and Rome's bleak future.
-Marco Polo becomes lost in the desert, and stumbles into one of the places where the Dreaming overlaps with the waking world.
-The caliph of Baghdad realizes that for all the beauty and majesty of his city, it will eventually crumble like all other great things. So he seeks out the king of dreams to make a very unusual pact with him.

The two most intriguing stories are "The Song of Orpheus" and "The Parliament of Rooks." The former is a story of Dream's legendary son, who loses his true love right after their wedding. Grief-stricken, Orpheus feuds with his powerful father, and calls on his aunt Death to help him get his love back. And the latter is a charming little story about Daniel Hall, a toddler who slips into the Dreaming during his naptime. While there, he is told the story of Adam's three wives, the tale of Cain and Abel, and the parliament of rooks....

While few of the stories in "Fables and Reflections" are directly tied to the central Sandman storyline, this collection of shorts adds a lot of richness and texture to Morpheus' world. Witches, gods, emperors, werewolves, severed heads and artists all wend their way through these stories, in a world where magic -- often dark, twisted and strange -- lurks everywhere.

It also seems to have many meditations on the impermanence of things, and the need to remember the past -- "Thermidor" shows us a France where all of the past is repressed and obliterated, including the myths that shaped its culture. Baghdad's beauty and culture are threatened by time, and Rome begins to crumble out of one man's terrible secrets.

Morpheus wends through these tales like a dark silk ribbon, subtlely shaping the destinies of those he touches -- an emperor, a caliph, an explorer and a little baby boy. We see him sorrowful, majestic, cold-hearted and kind, particularly in the tales involving Orpheus, whom he loves but has still not forgiven. And we have more background on Eve, Cain and Abe, all dwelling in the world of the Dreaming.

"The Sandman, Vol. 6: Fables and Reflections" is a jigsaw puzzle of silken dreams and shadowy memories -- a beautiful experience, even in its darker moments.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Neil Gaiman, 30 Jun 2013
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If not for anything else, then for the last story, in Baghdad, that this deserves 5 stars. A fine read indeed!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, 27 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Sandman TP Vol 06 Fables And Reflections New Ed (Sandman New Editions) (Paperback)
Great book, as described, made the mistake of buying from the USA rather then GB, but got here in the end :)
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ACCOUNTS AND REFLECTIONS touching the Prince of Stories, 12 Nov 2004
By 
Michele L. Worley (Kingdom of the Mouse, United States) - See all my reviews
HB: "How did you come to name this collection FABLES AND REFLECTIONS?"
NG: "Actually, I didn't. What I wanted to call it is ACCOUNTS AND REFLECTIONS, but nobody at DC would let me. My thinking was that the book contained a set of stories about different elements intersecting titled CONVERGENCE, and a set of historical tales titled DISTANT MIRRORS, and 'accounts' would represent both things being totalled up, or coming together; and ancient tales being recounted. But DC felt all that title would do is make readers think of chartered accountancy."
- interview with Neil Gaiman in THE SANDMAN COMPANION, by Hy Bender
All stories herein were written by Neil Gaiman (Wolfe only wrote the introduction which was added for their publication in book form). Each involves characters telling stories, from a phobic modern playwright to Orpheus himself. Often the entire story is part of a character's reminiscences, such as Lady Joanna's journals. Each (apart from possibly "Fear of Falling") also involves the spirit of a very distinct *place* (Fiddler's Green even makes an appearance).
As for the artists - SANDMAN's typical practice was to team up artists with Gaiman for short storylines like these to get used to working together before tackling major story arcs. McManus worked on most issues of A GAME OF YOU (which was published between the CONVERGENCE and DISTANT MIRRORS storylines). Later, Thompson and Locke drew BRIEF LIVES, while Talbot and Buckingham worked on WORLDS' END.
"Fear of Falling" (illustrator: Kent Williams) Rather than appearing in SANDMAN proper, this story appeared in VERTIGO PREVIEW #1, which launched DC's VERTIGO imprint in 1993. The narrator's phobia has mushroomed into a more general fear of success, which is driving him to the verge of pulling out of the off-Broadway production of his own play. But in his dreams, he finds himself climbing to meet Morpheus, and telling him the story of how his terrors stem from a childhood nightmare. And as in DREAM COUNTRY, the Prince of Stories can provide revelation, if not always justice or wisdom. For there is a third alternative to awakening from or dying in a falling dream...
"Orpheus" (illustrators: Bryan Talbot, Mark Buckingham) Gaiman's plans for SANDMAN SPECIAL #1 were scrapped in favour of providing the background of the Orpheus and Eurydice legend, after learning from bitter experience that many of his readers didn't know who Orpheus (Dream's son) was.
The remaining 7 stories (which appeared in SANDMAN proper) aren't grouped by publication order and story arc within the book, but I have taken the liberty of doing so here.
The four stories of DISTANT MIRRORS:
"Thermidor" (illustrators: Stan Woch, Dick Geordano) replaced the month of July in the calendar of revolutionary France, where Lady Joanna Constantine has accepted a commission to rescue Morpheus' son from Robespierre's tireless attempts to destroy *all* old stories and superstitions.
"August" (illustrators: Bryan Talbot, Stan Woch) is a day in the life of the emperor for whom that month is named, who because of a dream spends one day a year in the marketplace of Rome, disguised as a beggar, as taught by the young actor accompanying him.
"Three Septembers and a January" (illustrator: Shawn McManus) Septembers 1859, 1864, 1875, and January 8, 1880 in the life of Norton I, who declares himself first and only Emperor of the United States as a consequence of a challenge issued to Dream by his younger siblings that he couldn't keep Norton out of *all* their realms - Despair, Desire, and Delirium - before their eldest sister came for him. (The young newspaperman whom Norton helps with his first story is writing "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.")
During "Ramadan" (illustrator: P.Craig Russell), Haroun al-Raschid - troubled in his soul, despite his lordship of the greatest of the world's cities - summons the Dream-Lord to offer a bargain. (The story of one of Dream's treasures, last seen in his castle in SEASON OF MISTS.)
The three stories of CONVERGENCE:
"The Hunt" (illustrators: Duncan Eagleson, Vince Locke) A present-day grandfather tells his granddaughter this tale of a young man of "the People" who falls in love with a woman in a miniature carried by a wandering tinker. But among the tinker's stock is also a book, stolen from a librarian who is *most* anxious that Lord Morpheus not come to hear of the incident...
"Soft Places" (illustrator: John Watkiss) are those unexplored realms where boundaries are crossed and time becomes fluid, like the Desert of Lop in which a young Marco Polo has become separated from his father's caravan. Or is it his dream as an old man in prison, when he meets the Dream-King, just escaped from his own imprisonment?
In "The Parliament of Rooks" (illustrators: Jill Thompson, Vince Locke), Lyta Hall's son Daniel (whom she was last seen carrying back in THE DOLL'S HOUSE) is now a toddler who gets into *everything* - even Cain and Abel's little corner of the Dreaming, where three ancient storytellers find him a receptive audience. Thompson's "Li'l Endless" Hello-Kitty take on the Endless, accompanying Abel's simplified version of his own story, became a big hit. Eve's version of *her* own story is the theologian's version, which may be unfamiliar to readers apart from the simplified version told by CS Lewis as part of the backstory of the Witch. As for Cain, he begins with the title story (which is completed by his brother later).
The book concludes with "Biographies" - a warped little picture of each of the literary/artistic contributors, and some equally warped text accompanying each picture. :)
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST FOR SANDMAN COLLECTORS, 12 Jun 1998
By A Customer
A SERIES OF SHORT STORIES RATHER LIKE "DREAM COUNTRY" WHERE THERE IS NO GRAND PLOT LINE RUNNING THROUGHOUT. OTHER THAN THE PLOT LINE FOR THE SERIES AS A WHOLE, AND THATS PLOT LINE ENOUGH FOR ANYONE, ALL THE STORIES ANSWER QUESTIONS AND CREATE NEW ONES. HAVING READ THE ENTIRE SERIES I KEEP REREADING ALL THE SANDMAN NOVELS AND WONDERING IF GAIMAN PLANNED IT ALL FROM THE BEGINING OR IF HE LET THE STORY TELL ITSELF AS THE SERIES RAN. EITHER WAY IF YOU ARE LOOKING HARD ENOUGH YOU CAN SEE ANSWERS TO ONIEROS' DECISION IN THE "KINDLY ONES" \. NEIL IF YOU READ THIS----THANK YOU
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Sandman TP Vol 06 Fables And Reflections New Ed (Sandman New Editions)
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