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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 14 August 2003
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 March 2011
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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on 28 November 2009
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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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
on 2 May 2007
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 March 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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on 24 March 2013
New to the Sandman series, initial thoughts a little weird, dark, horror or mythology - definitely both and certainly thought provoking, I feel its still with me now even after finishing it last night and first opportunity will start the next volume The Dolls House.

Dream or Morpheus or the sandman is enslaved for 70 years by some cultist or wizard, in this time people all over the world suffer some don't wake, others can't sleep or dream at all. When finally he escapes he goes all out for revenge but first he must get his tools back and his power. His travels take him to familiar ground in Gotham City and the Arkham Ayslum where he must fight an insane villain and to John Constantine the supernatural investigator.

Dream is a cool character, a throw back to the days of the The Cure and The Cult, a dead ringer for Robert Smith and his trip to Hell to battle for his helm was surprising and excellent. Along with the introduction of his sister Death, not the grim reaper but an untraditional goth chick who holds nothing back, Gaiman must have been a big fan of the early 80's rock & punk scene as both characters belong there.

Quite simply I was fascinated by this in a different way to a good fantasy novel and glad to say I have rediscovered the Graphic Novel.
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on 10 January 2010
When I first heard about Sandman needless to say I was intrigued, I'm the type of person who loves anything supernatural, so a story about the God of Dreams and his exploits on the mortal plane was just what I needed.
Preludes and Nocturnes is the first in the Sandman series, chronicling the tale of Morpheus the God of Dreams (The Sandman to you and me). I won't give any of the story away because that is unfair but what I love about this book are the subtle nods and references Gaiman makes to other characters in the DC universe I won't spoil it for you but I'll just say this, a few major players in the DC universe make an big impact on the story even if you don't realise it at first, this means comic book readers will get that extra dimension of fun out of the book. However don't think this is all a load of in jokes that only avid comic book fans will understand, the story is very well written, brilliantly paced and the characters are well fleshed out. Gaiman mixes dark subtle humour with action on an epic scale while adding a touch of real world myths and legends to really make readers feel immersed in the world he has created.
So to sum up, if you want something that will really pull you into the story I suggest you pick this up, you won't be disappointed.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 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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on 24 June 2014
We weren't sure what to expect from The Sandman, as we've only read one of Neil Gaiman's books - The Graveyard Book, but we loved it.
It starts with a group of men who try to summon Death in order to eradicate death, but they end up summoning her brother, Dream. They steal his three tools: his helm, a pouch of sand and a ruby, and imprison him for 70 years. This has grave consequences, as people fall asleep and are trapped in their dreams.
When Dream breaks free, he sets off on a quest to reclaim his stolen items. He is briefly helped by John Constantine, and encounters several characters from the DC world. To be honest, this threw us a bit because we didn't know it was set in the DC world, so it did seem a little strange.
So plot-wise, it's a basic object-finding quest, but Dream does visit Hell, which is always a bonus. It is quite dark in places, which is what we loved most about it. You have to wait until the end to meet his sister, Death, and we'd like to see more of her and the rest of the Endless. We will definitely buy the next one.
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