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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 13 April 1999
Season of Mists is probably the best of the Sandman series of collections. It is the point at which the Sandman series of comics raises itself from the level of the grue and gothic of old 1950s horror comics and becomes something quite trancendent.
The story rests on an intriguing principle: The Devil is quitting hell. He's had enough, and is giving the personnification of Dream the key, to deal with as he wishes. The place is described as 'prime psychic real-estate', and is emtied of its previous inhabitants. On Earth, the dead souls drift ailessly back into their own life patterns. Meanwhile, Dream finds a crowd of prospective buyers at his door, including gods from virtually every world mythology, as well as faeries and angels. Deals are offered, many story threads are begun, and we are introduced properly to Dream's family, the Endless: Desire; Despair; Delerium; Destiny and Death, a cute Goth chick without a scythe in sight.
Gaiman's charm lies in his twists on popular mythology (e.g. Death), the complexities of his plots and the recurrence of sympathetic characters in stories that seem initially separate. Esoteric occult horror blends seamlessly with gritty drama and men in neon spandex to produce a varied and fascinating story that the reader cannot help but be drawn into.
The Sandman series benefits greatly from the comic-book format. Gaiman is a fantastic writer of comics, there is no doubt about that, and his forays into screenplay and novel writing (with the notable exceprtion of Good Omens, co-written with Terry Pratchett) have never proved as polished. Even if you are not a reader of comics, I would unhesitatingly recommend this for anyone who has ever enjoyed Clive Barker, Anne Rice, Terry Pratchett, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton or Edgar Allen Poe. My lingering image from the book is that where Lucifer, his wings cut away, sits on an Australian beach, and grudgingly congratulates God on his sunsets. And as for the ending... well, you'll just have to read the book.
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on 2 June 1999
If you read only one Sandman novel in your life, let it be this one. Although some background reading is advised it is not necessary, all you need is an open mind to accept the extreme intermingling of theology and mythology - past AND present, and an open heart to welcome the characters that will touch it in ways you would never expect "comic" book characters to ever do.
You cannot help but feel sorry for Morpheus, as he wanders around his palace with his lonely wistful eyes. A romantic at heart, he desperately craves the comfort and solitude found in companionship, but his fate as set out by his brother Destiny, is to self-destruct any chance he has of finding true happiness before his end.
It is this pain and stubborness that leds to the beginning of this beautiful tale, of cruelty, of the subconscious of man, and eventually to betrayl and redemption. God in this world, is cruel but loving, and will not hestitate to sacrifice one of his own to equalise the balance in the world.
The resolution of the story is at once complete and incomplete. Although Gaiman's tale has been told, it leaves us aching for more, a very rare sign of an extremely good writer,which of course, is what Gaiman is.
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on 28 August 2007
I'm new to the genre and so feel qualified to give an more lucid account of this series than the 'avid fan' who believes Gaiman can do no wrong.

They are potentially very good indeed: excellently drawn and presented and the story builds extremely well, introducing characters and even sub-plots that aren't directly to do with the main story, but give the context of the whole-a nice tool. What lets this down is the ending. It whimpers and limps to an unsatisfying ending that left me rather empty and cold. This is rapidly becoming my feeling about the whole Sandman series up to this point and it's such an all-pervading feeling that I'm considering not bothering to read the rest of the series. Perhaps I'm missing something, but I suspect not, because I find Gaiman's 'Death' graphic novels (a spin-off character) much more satisfying in every way an the most salient difference between the Death books and the Sandman series are the endings.

In conclusion, this is well presented in every way, but if you like resolute endings where you can sit back and feel contented, then I believe you'll be slightly disappointed with this book. If you like a vagueness to the conclusions of your reading-and some do- then jump in with both feet.
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on 21 January 2016
I'm re-reading the Sandman series, many years since I first read it, and books 1 to 3 left me feeling slightly disappointed. I thought, maybe it's like rewatching a film you used to love 20 years ago and realising it wasn't actually as good as you'd been telling people it was all these years?
Well, this is the fourth in the series and it reminded me why I loved the Sandman series so much back then. Gaiman really shows what he can do here and it is just breathtaking. So many brilliantly interwoven stories and ideas, all built around the ingenious central thread of what happens when Dream (The Sandman) dares to return to Hell. To say any more would spoil it. Just do yourself a favour and buy this one!
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The fourth Sandman collection finally follows up on the promise that Lucifer made to destroy Morpheus back in the opening collection. Destiny summons the Endless to a meeting, where we meet Delirium (who used to be Delight) for the first time and get some more information about the missing brother of the Endless. During the meeting Desire baits Dream about the treatment of his lover Nada, whom he banished to Hell for spurning him. Dream realises he/she is right, and resolves to travel to Hell and rescue his former lover, despite Lucifer's vow.

Season of Mists takes Dream on a journey into Hell and a confrontation with the Morningstar...but not the type of confrontation he was expecting. Dream ends up, slightly bemused, as the keeper of the key to Hell, and is soon being petitioned by gods and representatives from many pantheons (including the gods of Chaos and Order, and deities from the Egyptian, Norse and Japanese pantheons) anxious to get their hands on the finest plot of real estate in the multiverse, at the same time as he is also trying to find his missing love, and Death is attempting to repair the damage caused by countless legions of the dead suddenly being released back into the mortal world.

After the short story interlude of Dream Country, it's good to be back to a solid, long story arc. Although it's a reasonably long tale it's not the most dynamic story in the Sandman canon, and unusually most of it takes place in the Dreaming with only a few scenes set in the real world, and a longer chunk set in Hell. This allows us to see a bit more of the Dreaming and its inhabitants, but the meat of the story is seeing how the different pantheons interact together and who actually has the best claim on Hell.

As usual, Gaiman fills the story with neat little details and touches. The notion of there being a library in the Dreaming where all the books writers dreamed of writing but never got round to it is a fascinating one, and it's amusing to see books there such as Tolkien's The Lost Road (which was supposed to be a big story about his island kingdom of Numenor, but he abandoned it after a few pages). Elsewhere there are nods back to earlier stories: when Dream fears he may be destroyed in Hell, he decides to make time for a brief drink with his friend Hob Gadling, although they are not due to meet for another ninety-nine years. He also looks in on the newly-born son of Hector and Lyta Hall and gives him a name, Daniel, to Lyta's rage and horror. Elsewhere there's nice touches about the various gods, such as Chaos being personified as a young girl and Order as a carboard box, and Thor trying to impress some of the female deities present with his hammer, which gets bigger if you rub it (which is mythologically accurate)! Finally, we get a glimpse into the Sandman's collection of artefacts he has accumulated over the years, and see the skull of the Corinthian, a city trapped in a bottle and an old pocket watch, all of which are explored in future stories, in some cases years down the line.

As with previous collections, Gaiman interrupts the linear narrative of the story to give us a self-contained story in the middle of the collection which nevertheless comments on the action around it. A young boy left alone at boarding school for the holidays (after his father is among the hostages taken by Saddam Hussein in the build-up to the Gulf War) is suddenly joined by all those who died in the school over the previous century or so. It's a rather grim story, but ends on an interesting, optimistic note.

Season of Mists (****) isn't quite up there with the best of the Sandman collections. It is a tad overlong given its relative lack of actual incident, but for expanding our knowledge and understanding about Hell and the Dreaming, for introducing important new characters (particularly Daniel, Cluracan and Nuala) and for resolving the Nada storyline, it does a great job. The graphic novel is available from Titan in the UK and Vertigo in the USA, and forms the opening part of The Absolute Sandman, Volume II, available from Vertigo in the UK and USA.
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on 4 September 2009
Very enjoyable read. All the classic Sandman elements, good characters and a well crafted story. Liked this book in particular because of all the old and godlike characters in it. It has an intriguing story and keeps you gripped till the end. Not the best sandman i've read but still very good.
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on 21 July 2000
Don't make the mistake most people do,this is not just a comic book.Neil Gaiman tells a very fine story,and one that will have you thinking for a long time after you have finished it.
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on 7 April 2013
Seasons of mist is definitely the best of the Sandman series so far, Destiny of the Endless is visited by the Fates and as a result calls a family meeting. Present are Destiny, Dream, Death, the twins Desire and Despair, and Delirium, only one of the Endless is missing which is an intriguing fact by itself.

Destiny tells them of his meeting with the Fates and sets of a significant chain of events, Desire argues with Dream about one of Dream's past romances, a young tribal woman named Nada who he banished to Hell ten thousand years ago on refusing his proposal. Dream finally admits that his decision was wrong and sets out to put things right, a visit to Hell is necessary and after his last trip there, things may not end well at all.

Prepared for a battle from which he may not return, Dream is some what surprised to find when he arrives at the gates of Hell that Lucifer has decided to abdicate the throne of Hell and is in the process of evicting the ranks of demons and the damned before locking the gates and deserting his post forever. Unfortunately, with no where to go the dead will return to the living, with catastrophic results.

As a final gesture Lucifer gifts Dream with the key to Hell, its the last thing that Dream wants and its the start of many visitors to the Dreamland all with various proposals, bribes and threats for the Key to Hell.
An excellent story, interesting character development, we meet the majority of the Endless and Dream has some tough decisions to make. A nice touch is the ending with Lucifer watching the sunset on an Australian beach
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on 29 January 2016
Our son's a Neil Gaiman fan. He loved it!
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on 5 November 2015
Bought as gift recipient really pleased
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