on 12 August 2000
Six different tales, all linked by the common thread of being told by people trapped in a mysterious inn. While they can be read alone, each story enlightens or adds mystery to the Sandman mythology as a whole. Seemingly throwaway comments, such as Petrefax in his tale stumbling into a strange room and being asked by an unseen person "Which of them has died?" can be read, with knowledge of what comes later as a clever hint at the future, as can the whole reason behind the storm keeping the guests trapped. This was the last book of the ten I read due to it's unavailablilty. It is to Neil Gaiman's credit that not reading this had no effect on my ability to understand the books that came later, but once i read it my eyes were opened to other parts of the mytholog that i hadn't realised before and made me enjoy the last few books even more. Just buy it!
I give this five out of five stars as a stand alone read, I know from other reviews that this is part of an ongoing story arch and some of the content refers to developments in the series but I can say that, besides preludes and nocturnes, I have not read the Sandman series.
This book is all about stories, there is the overarching story of how the protagonists all come to be stranded in a kind of fabulous (as in fable, as opposed to amazing or wonderful) inn at "worlds end", follow each of them experiencing a reality storm and having to wait for its passing, they then each tell stories to pass the time, and even the characters within their stories, sometimes themselves, tell further stories. There is even an aside, in a way, in which storytelling is critiqued from a womans literary/womans studies perspective for its baring upon, connection with and relationship to reality, at least as experienced by the woman making the critique (although arguably this is a double edged scenario, as they themselves are living a story which they can not narrate well, perhaps for want of imagination and imaginativeness).
I loved this, not just for the skill in story telling involved or the overview of story telling per se, the changing styles of illustration and artwork, but also because of a number of the features and ideas employed in the telling of it. The Inn At The End of The World is a little like Dionysus' Inn featured in A Midsummer Night's Tempest by Poul Anderson which is a travellers rest visited by people from different dimensions but only for one night and only when they are facing trouble but, if I recall right, they will return to that point in time and history. The framing of a story as a narrative of a possibly false memory of an experience in a mysterious disappearing and reappearing setting is like the music shop in Soul Music by Terry Pratchett or that I recall from another book in french literature about a disappearing estate which a protagonist has stumbled upon.
So an excellent read, whether you know the series or not. Neil Gaiman is a great story teller who appreciates the story telling art and this book cant help but lead the reader to appreciate it in more detail and depth too.
on 2 August 2010
I've often complained that some Sandman tales are little more than vignettes that have little or nothing to do in the greater scheme of things. This 8th omnibus, The Sandman: World's End is comprised of a number of such tales. Interestingly enough, unlike the others, which I at times found quite offputting, this omnibus works perfectly.
Indeed, I feel that The Sandman: World's End demonstrates just how far-reaching Neil Gaiman's gift for storytelling goes. Essentially, this omnibus is a story about stories, each one more interesting than the other.
Here's the blurb:
This collection of tales tells of travellers caught in the vortex of a "reality storm". These wayfarers come from throughout time, myth and dreams to converge upon a mysterious inn, there to share stories of the places they have been and things they have seen, beside a flickering fire.
"A Tale of Two Cities" a man who believes he now finds himself in the dream of the city he lives in. Exploring that strange environment, he fears that one day the city would awaken. "Cluracan's Tale" is pure fantasy and recounts the story of a Faerie sent to the city of Aurelian to represent the interest of his people. When freed from imprisonment, he'll foment rebellion against the autocratic ruler. "Hob's Leviathan" is about a girl posing as a boy so she can go to sea. "The Golden Boy" follows the tribulation of a messiah figure representing the American Dream. "Cerements" is told by an apprentice from the necropolis Litharge, a city devoted solely to the Dead.
While every story has merit and is entertaining, my favorites were "Cluracan's Tale," "The Golden Boy," and "Cerements."
This omnibus was illustrated by Michael Allred, Gary Amaro, Mark Buckingham, Dick Giordano, Tony Harris, Steve Leialoha, Vince Locke, Shea Anton Pensa, Alec Stevens, Bryan Talbot, John Watkiss, Michael Zulli. Considering the number of artists, it is no wonder that there is absolutely no visual continuity. And yet, each artist's style suits the story they are illustrating very nicely.
Onward to the ninth omnibus!
on 18 March 2006
This is the eighth book of the Sandman library, and so we’re pretty near the end of the series here. Like a couple of the others, though, this is a book of short stories rather than a continuation of the main narrative.
Connecting all these stories is the Worlds’ End, an inn that lies between the worlds and which a collection of travellers from different times and worlds find themselves stranded at during a reality storm. As they are unable to leave until the storm is over, they amuse themselves by telling stories.
The stories are told in a variety of styles, with art just as varied. We have stories within stories several layers deep, with a variety of characters, many we’ve met in previous issues of The Sandman. Some of the stories will hit the mark, and some may miss, but it’s not essential to be familiar with the series to enjoy this book – although people who are familiar will read much more significance into certain pieces of information we pick up.
Worlds’ End does tie into the main narrative of The Sandman, but although we are given a lot of clues it isn’t revealed exactly how until the next book – The Kindly Ones. And although it isn’t essential to read it to understand the main plot, it does give us a surprising amount extra information – as well as a selection of entertaining stories.
And it has an introduction by Steven King, if you like that kind of thing. He has the poor taste to quote his own work to make a point, but there you go. You can always skip it and go straight to the stories.
on 30 August 2000
I have to admit I found a few of these tales trite and suprisingly unoriginal. However the ones that include charecters from previous books and the central theme itself - a portent that shows Gaiman knew what he was doing well over a year in advance to the end of the Sandman itself - is undoubtably excellent.
Though at times the Sandman series smacked of extending the series and avoiding the main plot simply for the sake of it, when Gaimans on form noone, in any genre, can beat him for pure storytelling.
One for the collection. But better off with the Dolls House or Brief Lives if your new to this.