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on 16 August 2005
The ten collected volumes of "The Sandman" are about as good as graphic fiction can get. In this volume, Neil Gaiman returns to the key characters, and gives us seven self-contained stories illustrated by well-known artists, each dealing with one of the Endless. I was hoping that Gaiman would fill in some important gaps in the series; for instance how Delight became Delirium, how the first incarnation of Despair was killed, the exact circumstances of Destruction's decision to leave: no such luck! However the individual stories are often superb.
The "Dream" story is brilliant and beautifully realised; anyone who has an interest in the series will need this story. Desire's tale is, inevitably, darkly erotic and well-illustrated. The "Death" story is competent, but not spectacular. The "Despair" section is highly experimental, pushing the bounds of graphic fiction, it is horrible, but compulsive; just don't read this section if your feeling low. Delirium's story is wild and strange and confusing at first reading; what would you expect when the only sane characters are a talking dog and a loquacious crow? The artwork here is by Bill Sienkewicz, who I remember from his work on Elektra in the late 80's. He has lost none of his skill and it's hard to imagine any other artist doing justice to this tale. Lots of big, swirly, water-colour-style images bring the story vividly to life.
The Destruction story is a disappointment; I really couldn't see the point of it, maybe I need to read it again. The final section "Destiny", is blessed with some spectacular images, but isn't really a story.
In summary: one essential story "Dream"; three very good ones "Desire", "Delirium", "Despair"; two pretty good ones "Death", "Destiny"; one puzzling disappointment "Destruction".
If you are a fan you need this volume; if you are a newcomer, this isn't the place to start.
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on 10 October 2009
Having recently started collecting the Sandman TPBs, I was delighted to see that once I had finished 'The Wake' it wasn't all over.

The tales in this collection are diverse in style - both in prose and also in visuals. It adds another dimension and depth to the characters of the Endless that we have come to enjoy in the previous books.

Recommended to Fans - as a novice, I suggest you start at the beginning...
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on 1 October 2004
A fabulous addition to the Sandman series
Neil Gaiman has certainly not lost any of his special magic with his return to writing graphic novels on the Sandman; Neil once again finds new levels of perception and intellect to bind into his latest masterpieces. As soon as you pick the book up you can tell that great time and through has been put into creating detailed art work, and as usual a mix of changing visual artistic personalities throughout the chapters.
The appearance of all the Dream Kings family, the Endless helps to create diverse and content rich chapters; focusing on not when the book is set but when and where. With the Dream King being as dark and mysteries as ever I could not put this book down and would recommend this read to anyone, though there are some illustrations of adult content.
The downside is that there is not much focus on the Dream King himself; instead the chapters follow human characters that encounter the Endless. I was a little disappointed in this. Still the book is a brilliant read but if you are expecting to see another window in the life of the Dream then you may feel let down as I was.
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on 16 January 2006
I bought this because I'm a sandman fan and have re-read the previous volumes many times. I found this collection dreary and un-engaging, and (sorry Neil) I think the fault lies in the writing. The production values are high, the artwork sumptuous, but the stories are monotonous and dull. No highlights, no drama, it's a comic book and I struggled to finish it. Sandman is a great series and Neil is a consistantly engaging writer. This book is consequently a great disappointment.
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