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"The Sandman, Vol. 6: Fables and Reflections" is not quite as essential to the main storyline as the other Sandman short story collections.

But that doesn't mean it isn't a spellbinding, haunting series of stories, ranging from whimsical glimpses into the Dreaming to dark stories about the consequences of power. Neil Gaiman imbues every story with a sense of richness, mining mythology and history for the backdrops of his tales -- and every single one casts a powerful spell over the readers.

The stories include:
-A theatrical director whose fear is reflected in a nightmare of falling.
-The story of Joshua Abraham Norton, the first and only Emperor of the United States - and the center of a struggle between Morpheus and Desire.
-Lady Johanna Constantine sets out to post-Revolutionary France to retrieve a very unusual severed head for Morpheus, and must fight against the repressive, destructive regime.
-An old legend of a werewolf obsessed with the portrait of a lovely young lady, and the lengths he goes to to find her.
-A Roman Emperor who becomes a beggar for a day, reflecting on his horrendous past and Rome's bleak future.
-Marco Polo becomes lost in the desert, and stumbles into one of the places where the Dreaming overlaps with the waking world.
-The caliph of Baghdad realizes that for all the beauty and majesty of his city, it will eventually crumble like all other great things. So he seeks out the king of dreams to make a very unusual pact with him.

The two most intriguing stories are "The Song of Orpheus" and "The Parliament of Rooks." The former is a story of Dream's legendary son, who loses his true love right after their wedding. Grief-stricken, Orpheus feuds with his powerful father, and calls on his aunt Death to help him get his love back. And the latter is a charming little story about Daniel Hall, a toddler who slips into the Dreaming during his naptime. While there, he is told the story of Adam's three wives, the tale of Cain and Abel, and the parliament of rooks....

While few of the stories in "Fables and Reflections" are directly tied to the central Sandman storyline, this collection of shorts adds a lot of richness and texture to Morpheus' world. Witches, gods, emperors, werewolves, severed heads and artists all wend their way through these stories, in a world where magic -- often dark, twisted and strange -- lurks everywhere.

It also seems to have many meditations on the impermanence of things, and the need to remember the past -- "Thermidor" shows us a France where all of the past is repressed and obliterated, including the myths that shaped its culture. Baghdad's beauty and culture are threatened by time, and Rome begins to crumble out of one man's terrible secrets.

Morpheus wends through these tales like a dark silk ribbon, subtlely shaping the destinies of those he touches -- an emperor, a caliph, an explorer and a little baby boy. We see him sorrowful, majestic, cold-hearted and kind, particularly in the tales involving Orpheus, whom he loves but has still not forgiven. And we have more background on Eve, Cain and Abe, all dwelling in the world of the Dreaming.

"The Sandman, Vol. 6: Fables and Reflections" is a jigsaw puzzle of silken dreams and shadowy memories -- a beautiful experience, even in its darker moments.
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on 10 February 2012
At times I have nearly given up on the Sandman series, despite the rave critical reviews and the genius tags imputed to Neil Gaiman. But this is the volume where all the raves are justified. There is nothing of the random nightmare scenarios that I didn't enjoy as much earlier in the series, there aren't the `adult' discourses - rather it is a sometimes-straightforward but often original retelling of the myths, histories and fables we grew up with, and if we didn't then this is a good place to remedy the shortage; and some new ones altogether.

"Fear of Falling" makes a succinct and non-didactic case of keeping on going when fear tells you to stop. "Three Septembers and a January" tells the tale of the first and last emperor of the USA - a character and story I had never encountered before, but which Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson have written about - about a likeable fellow named Joshua Norton. The lashings of the Eternal in the story makes this Neil Gaiman's own. I like the way Death at the end says to Mr. Norton, "I've met a lot of kings and emperors and heads of state in my time, Joshua. I've met them all. And you know something? I think I liked you the best." So did I.

In "Thermidor" Neil Gaiman creates a Lady Johanna Constantine to weave in the story of the French Revolution and the story of Orpheus from Greek fable. It is so interesting that I thought that the character may have been real, with a fairy-tale element added to it as Mr. Gaiman so often does. One of my favourite was "The Hunt" and I was as rapt as when I used to read fairy tales and myths as a child. I waited for the punishment of Vassily for turning his back on his father, for trusting the old gypsy and for daring to love a princess. That my assumptions were turned on their head left me fascinated.

"August" was disturbing and I couldn't find any verification of the acts ascribed to Julius Caesar. "Soft Places" - where in the deserts one dreams or goes into deliriums - is a good way of invoking why the Lord of Dream, Morpheus, comes to be. It is more creation of fable rather than rehashing.

"The Song of Orpheus" was too much of a retelling without much originality, however, it did set me on the path to read the myth. "The Parliament of Rooks" was fascinating - all the amazing detail! "Ramadan" was in my view a little didactic. The excesses of Baghdad could not fail to be punished. I am surprised that Mr. Gaiman wrote it in his current climate of writing it - and bravo! Very fun book to read.
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on 24 August 2017
This volume of Sandman doesn't feature a continuous story arc but is rather a collection of short stories of myths and fables. I enjoyed it, the writing was fantastic as it always is but the nature of these stories just didn't line up with my personal reading preferences. This wasn't bad at all and a lot of other people would probably love it, but I didn't as much as the previous volumes.
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on 10 November 2001
How not to love Neil Gaiman's Sandman, I simply do not know. In this collection of some of the short stories of the series, we are taken to Paris, to Greece, to Rome, to Baghdad. Stories are told, deals are made, challenges met, lives lost and life gained in these tales. I simply loved them, and anyone who loves Sandman must read them. Especially since the story of Morpheus son, the singer Orpheus, can be found here. A must read!!! (And I am very serious about that!)
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on 11 December 2000
This is a collection of single issue stories from the Sandman series, and they are all very good. There's a the story of a female werewolf, a member of the Ceaser family in Rome, the story if the King of America (I think) that cleverly ties in with later events, as well as the story of how Orpheus ended up on a window ledge in a monestary. Also included is the Orpheus special, sadly lacking the glow-in-the-dark cover. So, I don't have a problem with the stories. What I do have a problem with is the collection itself. These stories were fillers between major arcs, and as such should really have been included in either the collection they ended, or the one they began. This is because some of them take place 'in continuity', as well as the fact that they are jumbled around in this edition, rather than appearing in chronological order. It seems that DC was holding back printing these as a collection so that they could put out another Sandman book and make more money instead of putting them where they should be in the epic sequence of events that make up the Sandman series. By all means buy it, it is good, but read it as the Sandman series was meant to be read... look up the issue numbers of these short stories, as well as some of those in the other books and read them in sequence. It might be awkward, but it is more worthwhile if you are intending to read the series as a whole.
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on 21 January 2015
Even though it is the 6th in the series, it was the first Sandman book I've read and I think it's a good introduction into the world of the Dream King. This is the collection of short stories which can be read independently and whose only common element is the character of Morpheus and his immortal brothers and sisters (the personifications of Despair, Death, Delirium). Despite dark elements, the stories are full of hope, and will most likely leave you wanting for more. If you want to try other short stories from this universe I would recommend 'The Endless', otherwise try the first episode 'Preludes & Nocturnes'
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on 1 March 2017
Brilliant writing. Historical and mythological figures are given unheard stories or their stories are interwoven with new ones or told with dreams playing their part. This is not the dumbed down version of more recent years, the sort of writing that includes the likes of Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks making startass comments, but instead in Fables is elegently written and delves deep into the mysteries of these figures.
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on 9 February 2012
Bought for my partner who loves Neil gamen. Thought I would give this series a try and he hasn't be able to put I down. He reccomends this for Anyone tha usually likes Neil gamens stuff. Easy to read lots in one go or to just pick up for a few pages at a time.
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on 28 December 2012
Great product. Love it. Believe I have received value for my money. Great work amazon. Very pleased with the purchase. Would definitely recommend this to a friend.
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on 12 November 2016
Neil Gaiman never fails to excite the reader with his tales and fable. Basing things on fact, you can almost think the whole story is true.
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