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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that evolves before your very eyes.
"Preludes & Nocturnes" is the collection of the first 8 monthly publications of "The Sandman", one of the most ground breaking works in modern mythological writings. As such we should remember that from acorns might oaks do grow. "Preludes..." starts out with a vaguely interesting story line a badly drawn Dream (Our ~Hero~) and too...
Published on 12 Dec 1999

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shaky start
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...
Published 12 days ago by Sam Quixote


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that evolves before your very eyes., 12 Dec 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes (The Sandman, Vol. 1) (Paperback)
"Preludes & Nocturnes" is the collection of the first 8 monthly publications of "The Sandman", one of the most ground breaking works in modern mythological writings. As such we should remember that from acorns might oaks do grow. "Preludes..." starts out with a vaguely interesting story line a badly drawn Dream (Our ~Hero~) and too many old DC superheroes. But by the originality of the writing and settings and themes what would be bland becomes the begining of the most finely woven tapestry of myth, reality and social commentry ever to be created. By itself "Preludes..." would never be published and probably shouldn't be read, but when put within the context of the entire Sandman series it is the acorn, and a little perseverance will reward many times over with the greatest oak.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dream Start, 5 Feb 2007
By 
Mr. Jamie Martin (uk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes (The Sandman, Vol. 1) (Paperback)
The criticism that this is not the best of the sandman series is very much undeserved. Its not, however the comics it contains rate among the most important of the 20th Centuary, and helped to create what would become Vertigo comics, establishing itself in a trend started by Alan Moore on Swamp Thing and Jamie Delanos Hellblazer. Its dated a bit, but then so has Citizen Kane - And that is a worth comparison, because although both creators would do better in their career, their impact at those times would never be better'd.

Those were heady days, when this kind of Comic book was unheard of. This was a risk. Like the Watchmen before it, Preludes is special in that it dared to be different, and it succeded. Its not Gaimans best work on Sandman but it is his first work, and when it appeared it was unprecedented and unheard of. Moore, Miller and Morrison brought Graphic Novels into mainstream Bookshops, but Gaiman brought Book Buyers into the Comic Shops.

Its not something you can judge by comparison to later and now, but for what it was. If this had failed there would have been no later, people put their careers on the line for this.

Take it from someone who was there. This is the birth of the Modern Era of Comic Books. Sandman, Swamp Thing and Hellblazer are British Invasion of US comics.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good start to a Brilliant series., 27 Dec 2001
This review is from: The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes (The Sandman, Vol. 1) (Paperback)
Preludes and Noctures is more than just a story, it is a setting, more than anything it gives you background and a notion of who Morpheus (Sandman) is. Maybe because of that it lacks in the pure storytelling other parts of the sandman saga have. This book has useful information and if you are just starting in the world of Sandman it is where you should start, but remember, after this one comes better stuff.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant start to a wonderful classic series., 9 Oct 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes (The Sandman, Vol. 1) (Paperback)
I bought this book on a friends recommendation, and I wasn't disappointed. I had been led to think I was getting something special, and I was. I have now had to read all the series (Preludes & Nocturnes, The Doll's House, Dream Country, Season of Mists, A Game of You, Fables & Reflections, Brief Lives, Worlds End, The Kindly Ones and The Wake) because I was addicted! If anyone tells you that graphic novels are a sub-genre for boys, ignore them - these are books for anyone and everyone who loves a good story.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In the beginning, 22 Dec 2004
By 
Michele L. Worley (Kingdom of the Mouse, United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes (The Sandman, Vol. 1) (Paperback)
These first 8 Sandman stories establish the character, how he came to be incarcerated through most of the twentieth century - and some of the damage resulting in the mortal realm. Don't be put off by the early artwork; Sandman's artists took time to catch up with Gaiman's writing, and began to mesh properly towards the end of this volume.
This incarnation of the Sandman is *the* Sandman: Dream of the Endless, the king of the realm of dream and nightmare.
Seeking to capture Death, an order of magicians in Wych Cross, England accidentally snare Death's younger brother, Dream, in "Sleep of the Just". They seal him within an airless glass cage, then attempt to parley: his freedom in exchange for immortality, power, and his promise not to retaliate. But Dream is of the Endless; while time passes no more quickly for him than for mortals, he has *all* of it at his disposal - and a temper like an angry god rising from the bottom of the sea. The artwork has weaknesses, particularly in depicting Dream himself, but Gaiman's writing is magnificent, opening deeper mysteries in passing. For the elements of his spell, how did the magus steal a song from dirt, or a feather from an angel's wing? How did Dream come to be in such a weakened condition that a petty spell could snare him?
Gaiman's excellence as a writer shines through, as he creates depth with layer after layer of consequences to actions, planting the seeds of future stories as he does so.
The damage done to the mortal realm is unfolded gradually, by showing several people who had unusual qualities as dreamers, and what happened to them in the years after Dream's capture in June 1916: a real-life "sleeping sickness" epidemic; a thirteen-year-old who lied about his age to enlist, and now in Verdun cannot sleep; Unity Kinkaid, who falls into near-endless sleep. Gaiman even fits the first Sandman (Wesley Dodds the crimefighter) into the mosaic, as the universe, knowing that *someone* is missing, attempts to replace him. We also see the changes in the magicians' order over the decades, as the magus' son and heir carries on.
Naturally, damage was also done to Dream's own realm, which we see both in this volume and the next. The next few PRELUDES AND NOCTURNES deal with Dream's return to the Dreaming: taking stock of which dreams have escaped into the mortal realm (later tracked down in THE DOLL'S HOUSE), then going after the tools stolen from him by the magicians, lost decades before when the magus' mistress Ethel Dee ran away with 200000 pounds, several powerful artifacts, and the second-in-command.
Dream inventories his realm in "Imperfect Hosts"; many of the dreams correspond to other Marvel comics, such as the brothers Cain and Abel, who are also an interpretation of the figures of legend. (In the mortal realm, Ethel Dee seeks out her son in none other than the Arkham Asylum.) The artwork on Dream is still finding its way. The one-who-is-three - maiden/mother/crone - enters the storyline here, but her/their graphic depiction is *AWFUL* (*all* other issues of Sandman in which they appear have better treatment), although their shuffling positions between frames is established here. (That would have been Gaiman's script, though, not the artist.) They give Dream enigmatic clues to the whereabouts of the pouch of sand (last purchased by John Constantine); the helm (traded by the renegade magician to a demon decades ago); and the ruby (passed by Ethel Dee to her son, long since captured by the League of Justice).
Still debilitated from his long imprisonment, and wanting more information about the more-than-human Justice League before confronting them, Dream begins by seeking out John Constantine, in "Dream a Little Dream of Me". Even the pouch of sand, the least powerful of Dream's tools, has destroyed more than one mortal life. Constantine's viewpoint carries an undercurrent of music, all songs with dream imagery, beginning days before Dream crosses his path. We also meet Mad Hettie for the first time, a street person who knows far more than most about *real* life, and who really *is* 247. Dream's graphic depiction begins improving a little here as Gaiman experiments a little, with Constantine rather than Dream narrating.
In "A Hope in Hell", Dream confronts the Morningstar, in our first encounter with Gaiman's take on Lucifer. The distortions in mythology - Lucifer's "co-rulers" - weren't Gaiman's error, but were introduced for consistency with another comic that was to be set here. Gaiman managed to square this with Lucifer's character development later on. Here we first encounter Nada, Dream's unforgiven ex-lover, imprisoned for 10,000 years - something we understand better after "Tales in the Sand" in THE DOLL'S HOUSE. Hope is the major theme running through this issue: Dream's hopes for the meeting, Nada's hopes of freedom.
The quest for the ruby, the tool into which Dream placed the greater part of his power long ago, runs over 3 chapters, beginning in "Passengers". Dream only deals with two members of the Justice League, 'Scott Free' and the last Martian; the latter's perception of Dream underscores his standing outside humanity as an entity known to all cultures. Nevertheless, Ethel Dee's son retrieves the ruby before Dream does.
"24 Hours" is both horror story and character study; the ruby's power not only permits Dee to torment the diner's customers, but to force them to reveal their deepest secrets. Dream's battle for the ruby forms the chapter "Sound and Fury". While ordinarily no mortal could stand against Dream, the ruby allows Dee to turn Dream's own power against him.
"Sound of Her Wings" was first advertised as "A Death in the Family", as we finally encounter the one of the Endless the magi *really* wanted to trap: Dream's elder sibling, Death, as he walks beside her through a day of *her* work.
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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: The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes (The Sandman, Vol. 1) (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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Small beginnings, 14 Aug 2003
This review is from: The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes (The Sandman, Vol. 1) (Paperback)
It's a fairly simple, and over used plot. A super hero is held captive and seeks revenge on his captors. But it's so much more than that. Here we have a being, more powerful than a god, and only spoken of in whispers and long lost volumes of mythological lore. He sits quietly, his eyes burning, naked and cold, in a tiny jar waiting for his oppurtunity to escape while his mortal captors crumble away.
Gaiman has taken a simple idea and turned it into something far darker and deeper. Morpheus, the Sandman, Prince of Stories, the very embodiement of dreams, maybe more powerful than any god, but it far from omnipotent and benevolent. He is insensitive and selfish (as seen in later novels) but at the same time considerate and loving. The thing that makes Dream such an interesting character is that he's neither good or bad: he's just Dream.
Anyway, it's an interesting enough plot, and ambles along nicely, introducing some of the main plot lines and characters of the future Sandman novels. Gaiman wraps up the plot smoothly, but it's the final chapter, 'Sound of Wings' which really makes the book, for me. It introduces the fabulously cool Death, and shows of Gaiman's talent for prodding at the human soul.
It may be one of the weakest Sandman novels, and slightly uninspiring, but then when you consider how good the others are this must be worthwhile musn't it?
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5.0 out of 5 stars As good as you could expect from a opening story arc, 28 Nov 2009
By 
Mr. T. Fitzpatrick (Liverpool, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes (The Sandman, Vol. 1) (Paperback)
As a new reader of comics I was slightly apprehensive to delve into the prestigious world of the sandman. I knew next to nothing about the series going in so I wasn't sure if I would like it or not. So did it live up to the hype and will I buy the next volume?

In a word: yes. This first chapter is as good of an introduction to a story as is possible. Like all good opening story arc's it introduces the protagonist to the reader in a simple yet effective way. As you become more immersed in the Sandman and his world you can't help but like him more and more.

The overall story arc of this volume is somewhat run of the mill. It's only purpose seems to be to introduce to the world and it's inhabitants. It does, however, achieve this purpose excellently whilst also possibly hinting at story lines to come. A highlight for me was the issue with John Constantine. I have not read any Hellblazer but now I am seriously considering it. The introduction of Death at the end provides a fitting end to an excellent pilot book whilst simultaneously getting me excited for book 2.

The art was slightly different than I was expecting since all I had seen was cover art. For people who have somewhat limited experience with comics from this era (aka me) the art can be slightly jarring. However, after a couple of pages you start to appreciate how good it is.

To conclude, if you have been putting off reading this series then you should at least give this first chapter a chance. I had already ordered volume 2 before I had even finished and I can't wait to delve further into Neil Gaiman's world.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Promising start to an excellent series, 6 Aug 2008
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes (The Sandman, Vol. 1) (Paperback)
If Watchmen is the greatest graphic novel of all time, then a serious case can be made for Neil Gaiman's The Sandman to be the greatest on-going comics series of all time. Running from 1988 to 1996, the series incorporated some 76 issues, collected as ten graphic novels (and more recently, four large-format prestige collections). Although an ongoing series, it was bound together by a long-running story arc that spanned its entire length, and told the story of Morpheus or Dream, one of the seven Endless who are manifestations of universal concepts (the others are Death, Delirium, Desire, Despair, Destiny and Destruction). Preludes and Nocturnes is the first part of the Sandman saga, collecting together the first eight issues of the series.

In 1916, an English sorcerer named Roderick Burgess attempts to capture and constrain Death, so that all humans will become immortal. The spell goes awry, and instead he captures Death's younger brother, Dream. Dream refuses to help Burgess with his quest for immortality and is left imprisoned in a magic circle in the cellar beneath Burgess' home. The absence of Dream is soon felt, as thousands of people across the world slip into a 'sleeping sickness' and cannot wake up. One of these people, a young woman named Unity Kincaid, is even raped and bears a child without ever waking up. Years and then decades pass. Roderick dies of old age and his son Alex takes over as Dream's captor. Finally, in September 1989, Alex accidentally breaks the circle (by driving his wheelchair over it) and Dream is freed. After visiting an original form of vengeance upon his captor, Dream sets about reclaiming the 'tools' of his profession and restoring his realm, the Dreaming, to its former glory.

Preludes and Nocturnes opens the Sandman saga in style, introducing the titular character (who is unusually front-and-centre for the duration of the story: many Sandman stories are notable for not featuring him prominently) and the world he lives in. Gaiman weaves an interesting story here. The Sandman's quest to find his pouch of sand, his gemstone and his helmet is a traditional mythic device, as is the descent into Hell to confront Lucifer to find one of the missing artefacts (this in turn sets up the very end of the series, with Lucifer's vow that, "One day I shall destroy him," setting up future events). At the same time there's a lot of other things going on. Established DC Comics villain Dr. Dee abusing the Sandman's powers to torment a diner full of innocent people is one of the more disturbing things you're going to see in a comic. The story ends with a triumphant Sandman driven strangely morose by his success, and unable to think of something else to do, he goes to feed the pigeons in Greenwich Village, where he meets with his sister Death, probably the most popular character in the series. The collection ends on an upbeat note, as the Sandman begins the task of restoring his realm and his life.

Preludes and Nocturnes is a great story. It's clearly early days for Gaiman and the story creaks a bit in places. It's also rather more obvious than the later, more subtle collections, and the desire for a somewhat plot-driven narrative to hook in the readers means that a lot of the more reflective moments from the later collections are missing. At the same time, revisiting the collection reveals a host of details that crop up again later on, such as an early glimpse of Merv driving a bus (he doesn't reappear until The Kindly Ones, the penultimate collection) and the introduction of Nada, Dream's former lover whom he condemned to Hell for reasons that will later be revealed. The book also wears its influences a bit more obviously than later stories: The Devil Rides Out and the works of Alastair Crowley inform the Burgess sequences, whilst the gates of the Dreaming (the Gates of Horn and Ivory) are straight out of Homer and Virgil. Gaiman's use of established DC characters such as John Constantine and Dr. Dee was also an obvious strategy to attract other DC readers, but for those unfamiliar with the DC Universe, their appearance and the assumption of familiarity is a bit jarring.

Preludes and Nocturnes (***½) is an intruging opening to the series, ranging from mythology to the occult to superheroes (and villains) and back again, taking in multiple times, worlds and characters. It is a powerful work of the imagination, but in places feels constrained by being part of the DC Universe and has a few rough edges, the result of a writer near the start of his career but already showing great promise.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introductory background, 2 May 2007
This review is from: The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes (The Sandman, Vol. 1) (Paperback)
My introduction to Sandman began with Endless Nights, which I was given. I was hooked, and decided to read the rest. Having made a start, I was surprised to see negative comments on this book. Certainly, it is not as polished as the later books, but it is invaluable as a background to understanding them. The intro in Dolls House probably does quite well for providing this background, but it cannot possibly do nearly as well as does reading Preludes and Nocturnes. And, whilst it is not as polished, it is still very good indeed. [...]
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The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes (The Sandman, Vol. 1)
The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes (The Sandman, Vol. 1) by Neil Gaiman (Paperback - 21 Oct 1991)
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