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One of the best stories I've read ever, let alone this year
on 17 July 2016
One of the best stories I've read ever, let alone this year.
So, here's the thing. I'm not a huge reader of comics or graphic novels. In fact, I can honestly say, I've only read a handful of them, very carefully selected or recommended by people I know and trust. However, with this series...it was a mood. I was in the mood to delve into the world of graphic novels, but not the usual Superman, Batman stuff, and The Sandman series happen to be one of the top rated series of all times. I went for it on a whim. Ordered the whole thing! Crazy, I know, for someone who's never even been interested in this type of thing.
Once the set arrived, I immediately began reading the first installment, which seemed to be a collection of seven issues. I was amazed at how engrossed I became in the happenings of Morpheus - Lord of Dreams - and his captivity and all that it led to. It was such a dark and thrilling tale, going off on tangents here and there, only to have it all tied up and connected quite nicely in the end. When I finished it, I reached out for the second book, but stopped myself. It was so good, a world so brilliantly created, that I wanted to prolong it for as long as I possibly could. The only way I knew how to do that was to spread out the readings rather than devour them all at once. So I picked up another book, and forced myself out of this world, with the knowledge that I will be back there soon.
The series begins in the 1900s with Roderick Burgess, a man who dabbles with magic, as he attempts to summon and capture Death in order to achieve immortality, only to find that he had instead captured Dream. With no way out of the circle of dark magic that Burgess created, Dream is unable to free himself and therefore decides to bide his time until a time when he can, knowing that eventually, Burgess will have to slip somehow. However, it isn't Roderick Burgess who slips, but his son - after his death. When Roderick dies, his son Alexander carries on his father's imprisonment of Dream, not knowing what else he could possibly do. After almost a century of captivity, 70 or so years to be exact, Alexander inadvertently breaks the spell that holds Dream in the circle allowing him to access the sleep of his captors and free himself, punishing them in the process. And what greater punishment is there than to have them live in a constant nightmare for the rest of their lives?
As Dream proceeds to return to his Dream realm, he finds that a lot has changed in the years he's been gone. His world has been destroyed, some people have been caught in a coma of dreams and his 3 totem of powers have gone missing. He realizes he cannot fix anything until he gains back his totem of powers, and so begins the search for them as he travels to restore his power one piece at a time.
What a dark and mysterious world, and what incredible character development. You can tell that this installment is meant to act as a backdrop to the rest of the series, introducing us to Dream and other characters and slowly setting us up for what's coming next. The end of this book brings us face to face with none other than Death...Dream's older sister. Yes, Death is a female and is a sassy, young and attractive one to boot, and you can tell that she will be playing a very integral role in the parts to come.
Neil Gaiman slowly builds up Dream's characters, allowing us to see bits and pieces of him, one story at a time. Although strangely alluring, there's also something dark and twisted about him. You root for him, but you're not sure why. You realize there's more to him and it's not all good.
He's a hero, but a flawed one for sure.