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on 26 June 2012
Dear Amazon,
Do you honestly think I would be happy to buy volumes one to six of "The Sandman", only to discover that Volume 7 is unavailable for the Ipad? Sort it out please! Altogether the entire collection comes in at around a hundred pounds. I know of no person who would want to spend a hundred quid on something with a missing piece! Unless this issue is amended I will have wasted over £60 on half a collection! Very shoddy!
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 February 2014
Approximately 300 years ago, one of the Endless vanished. None of the others have seen him since, nor do they know where he went.

But it was pretty inevitable that one day, somebody would go looking for him. "The Sandman Vol. 7: Brief Lives" finally reveals what happened to the long-lost lord of Destruction, but it's as the capstone to a bittersweet saga of everyday people, immortals, fallen gods and the most dysfunctional family in the universe.

After having a small meltdown in a gay bar, Delirium decides that she wants to find her older brother Destruction. She tries to enlist Dream to help her, and he decides to accompany his acid-tripping little sister on her quest. He's already decided that her quest is hopeless, but he has nothing better to do after his latest romance failed.

But as Dream and Delirium make their way through the world, they come into contact with several people -- both mortal and supernatural, from bellgirls to goddesses. Soon Dream realizes that they are spreading mayhem to anyone who tries to help them, and that finding his brother will exact a terrible cost from him.

At first, "Sandman Vol. 7: Brief Lives" felt kind of like a lighter, quirky chapter in the Sandman saga -- it's basically Morpheus and Delirium going on a little road trip to find Destruction. It's kind of cute at first, especially since any story with Delirium is sure to be fun. Three words: tiny chocolate people.

But Gaiman's story grows darker and more bittersweet as the the story winds on, especially since he unearths the stories of immortals adrift in a mortal world (think the goddess Ishtar dancing at a strip club). It's a gritty, grimy world full of little flickers of haunting beauty, and ringed with magical realms.

Morpheus has changed drastically over the course of the Sandman series, growing from a cold arrogant creature to a more compassionate one. He's still arrogant, but he recognizes it himself here -- and in a twist worthy of Greek tragedy, he is forced into actions that will resonate through the rest of the series.

We also see more of Delirium, who has always seemed like a quirkily pathetic figure in a psychedelic sherbet-flavored wonderland. But here we see not only her deep love for her family, but a hint that she's more powerful and perceptive than we've seen. And the people who are struck with misfortune aren't just random redshirts -- Gaiman lovely paints out their hopes, pasts and current lives.

While it seems rather lightweight at first, "The Sandman Vol. 7: Brief Lives" winds itself into a darkly bittersweet masterpiece -- and the springboard for the Sandman series' ending.
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VINE VOICETOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 November 2012
Delirium of the Endless has resolved to find her missing brother, Destruction. She asks for the help of her family, but the only one to respond positively is Dream. Recently dumped by a mortal woman, Dream needs something to take his mind off moping and decides this quest is the answer. He and Delirium set out on what promises to be an adventure...until people start dying and Dream is asked the impossible by his son.

Brief Lives is the seventh volume in the Sandman series, picking up after the events of the Fables and Reflections collection. In particular, it expands on the story Orpheus in which Dream's son awoke the rage of the Furies and was left in a dire predicament. Dream, who has been changed more than he will care to admit by a century's imprisonment at the hands of a mortal, finds himself in a situation where he requires Orpheus's help but the price that is asked in return is dire. This in turn has grave consequences that will extend across the remainder of the series's run. This dark undercurrent gives Brief Lives a lot of weight for something that starts off as a light-hearted adventure (or at least as close as Sandman ever gets).

The collection has a number of memorable characters, such as Destruction's laconic talking dog Barnabas, but it's Delirium who receives the most attention and development. Delirium talks in non-sequiturs and apparently has the attention span of a five-year-old, but during the course of the story we learn more about her and how she sees the world. We also get interesting glimpses of her former life as Delight, before she changed (for reasons even the other Endless do not understand). The collection also delves deeply into the purpose and nature of the Endless, explaining who they are and what they do. Destruction's conclusions about the Endless are somewhat disheartening and led to his self-imposed exile, but Dream does not accept those arguments (although Delirium does...but still maintains her duties). Brief Lives is thus about lives and even how those measured in millennia still feel brief when the end comes. There's also the ongoing themes of redemption, responsibility and consequence that have formed the spine of the series since its beginnings.

As usual Gaiman's writing is accomplished and the graphic format forces him to conciseness (avoiding the problem of indulgence that has occasionally blighted his prose work, most notably in American Gods). Characterisation is deft, with Delirium getting the most attention but even briefly-appearing characters like Despair get moments of humanity that may force the reader to reappraise them. There's also some great comic moments, such as Dream's raven-who-was-once-a-man Matthew having to teach Delirium to drive (with chaotic results) and Dream, in full moping mode, conjuring a rainstorm just so he can go out and stand in it and look forlorn, to the amusement of his minions. The artwork is appropriately dreamlike, with artists Jill Thompson and Vince Locke nailing the surrealness of such locations as Delirium's realm. However, the artwork arguably works less well in depicting the real-world locations and Destruction, in particular, feels a little underwhelming after his larger-than-life first appearance (based on Brian Blessed in Blackadder) in the previous volume.

The only other issue of note is that the storyline featuring the tracking down of Ishtar feels a bit pointless. Gaiman raises the issues of femininity, empowerment and the suggestion that prostitution and religion (which were linked in ancient times in several cultures) were separated to prevent the rise of matriarchal power groups, all of which is fascinating, but also underdeveloped in the context of the story. Still, Ishtar's final dance is a powerful scene and one that has some resonance through the rest of the story.

Brief Lives (****) is a very solid instalment of The Sandman and is the one that proves the turning point of the entire saga (though this may not be immediately obvious). It is available now in the UK and USA. The stories in this collection are also included in The Absolute Sandman, Volume III (UK, USA).
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on 16 October 2017
So this was different. In fact, this may just be the turning point of events in the series. This is the only book so far to focus on one story in its entirety from beginning to end, featuring none other than Dream himself along with his sister Delirium, who is on a quest to search for her missing brother, Destruction.

Dream starts out by humoring her in order to take his mind off his recent predicament in which a woman rejected him, but when people begin to die, Dream decides to pull the plug and quit the search. He tells Delirium that Destruction obviously does not want to be found, but that doesn't sit well with his sister, so when he receives a visit from another sister, he decides to continue on his quest...but this time, with the true intention of finding his brother.

It was interesting seeing this family side of Dream, and of seeing more of his siblings as well. I was also pleased to finally meet this elusive brother, and was surprised at the character he turned out to be.

Although it was such a good story, I think the reason I gave it 3 stars was because I have been starting to lose interest in the overall storyline of the Sandman series. I started by phasing the books out intentionally because I wanted the series to last as long as possible, but that may have backfired. Phasing them out has made me lose interest, as it now feels like the story is taking too long to wrap up. I have 3 more books to go, and I think I am going to breeze through them without any breaks in-between. I believe had I read all the books at once, I may have enjoyed the series a lot more, without noticing any gaps, flaws or shortcomings.
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With The Sandman: Fables & Reflections ending up being such a letdown, I was hoping that this seventh omnibus, The Sandman: Brief Lives, would be a return to form. The last couple of installments had been great, and I had heard a lot of positive things about this story arc.

Well, I'm glad to report that The Sandman: Brief Lives is my favorite omnibus thus far! In the past, I have complained that the plotlines are often all over the place, without any sort of continuity, that many of the stories appear to be vignettes that have little or nothing to do with one another. Yet the great thing about this story arc is that it does tie a lot of what seemed to be loose ends together. The Sandman: Brief Lives unveils connections between various plotlines which, at face value, did not appear to be linked.

Here's the blurb:

From Neil Gaiman's award-winning Sandman series comes the longest story arc in Gaiman's extraordinary saga of the Endless. This is the story of the search for the Sandman's long missing brother, Destruction, and of the consequences of that endeavour. The great quest begins when Delirium, the youngest of the Endless family, prevails upon her brother Dream (the Sandman), to help her find her missing sibling. Their travels take them through the world of the waking until a final confrontation with the missing member of the Endless and the resolution of The Sandman's painful relationship with his son, Orpheus, change the Endless forever.

The presence of Delirium helped with the overall characterization. Like Death, she brings out another side of Dream that shows a more human side to the character. It was a delight to follow their adventure as they wander in search of Destruction. This story arc also reveals more information about the Endless and how they interact with one another.

This omnibus was illustrated by Jill Thompson and Vince Locke, and it features some of the best artwork in the series. And since, for once, the various chapters have not been produced by a panoply of disparate artists, there is a much appreciated visual continuity as well.

The Sandman: Brief Lives is comprised of nine chapters. It also contains an afterword by bestselling author Peter Straub.

Onward to the 8th omnibus, The Sandman: World's End!
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on 17 December 2000
This book is Focused around Delirium and Strangely Dream. It features ALL of The Endless including Destruction. Brief Lives follows Delirium and Dream's search for their brother~Destruction who left his realm 300yrs ago. Not only does it follow THEIR search it lets us see what Destruction is doing with his life, which includes a talking dog called Barnabas.It shows how Delirium shuts off her realm to the other Endless and how Destruction leaves this world.Delirium in this story is quite well... Delirius. She destroys the life of a Police Officer by making him feel invisible bugs all over his body.(That part of the story is a favourite of mine)I recommend this Sandman book because it has one of the best story lines of the Sandman Comics I have read.
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on 16 December 2000
In this story Dream and his sister Delerium (who was once Delight) go searching for their lost brother Destruction. Their search has unexpected consequences for those they meet.
More of the overall Sandman arc unfolds in this story as Morpheus takes certain decisions whose consequences are some way off. Also interesting is the reason for Destruction's actions. It tells us at least as much about Dream as it does about Destruction.
I found this book very disconcerting. I started off by dismissing it as a ramble, a blip in Gaiman's normally excellent record. However after a first reading, it grows on you. Its apparent aimlessness masks a deep purpose, and, in my opinion, the art by Jill Thompson is some of the best in the series.
And, after all, much of the meandering way it unfolds can be explained by the fact that it prominently features Delirium, one of Gaiman's most delightful characters (pun intended, for those of you who get it).
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on 30 October 2016
After reading 6 volumes of Gaiman's masterpiece I didn't think that the series could get any better or even still surprise me. I still remember reading the dream of 10,000 cats and that is my favourite and probably the best issue, in my opinion, of Sandman. This series gets better and better, after seeing most of the 'family' and each of them seem very powerful but Delirium, wow. What she does is epic and really scary when you think about it.

Dream and Delirium seem opposites of each other and yet they are so awesome together. Only at the end I realised what this whole story was about, Brief lives no matter if you lived for thousands of years or a few, if you are mortal or a god. "You get what everyone gets a lifetime."

Out of all the other Sandman stories this hit the most, becuase it has so much packed into 200 pages. Well done Neil.
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on 24 September 2003
For me, The Sandman is the finset work of comics literature we've yet seen, and "Brief Lives" is my favourite story from the run. Let me tell you why.
Neil Gaiman was once asked to summarize The Sandman in one sentance, and his reply went something like this:
"The Lord of Dreams learns that he must change or die, and he makes his decision"
Brief Lives is a road trip, and such tales are essentially about self-discovery. What Dream discovers about himself in this story, as he travels the waking world in the company of his youngest sister, the adorable, fizzy princess Delirium, is two-fold.
The first thing he learns is that life and change are inseperable. Dream is travelling with Delirium, who embodies Change, in search if their absentee brother Destruction, who quit his position 300 years ago. Delirium wants to see her most beloved brother again, and find out why he left. Dream is just looking for some distraction after the end of his latest doomed romance. The answers they find say more about Dream's emotional immaturity, his inability to change and his stubborn obsession with his duties as Lord of Dreams, than he is comfortable with hearing.
Which leads us to the second thing Dream learns; that his duty to his work is far less important than his duty to the ones he loves and who love him, and to his own heart. This understanding leads Dream to a course of action that is at once the finest act of kindness and mercy we have seen him perform (at a huge emotional cost to himself), but which has enormous consequences in later stories.
Throughout the story, Neil Gaiman's writing shines. His grasp of character, story and dialogue has never been better. The underlying themes of his magnum opus come into focus as it turns towards the home strait, and I for one was left breathless.
I can't finish this review without mentioning the artwork. Jill Thompson is one of my favourite comics artists, as well as a fine writer in her own right. Her work in this book sparkles and crackles with energy, but also has the depth to portray the many and varied moods of the tale convincingly. She is the perfect illustrator for Delirium, and my choice for top Sandman artist.
Kudos also to Danny Vozzo, one of the finest colourists in the medium, who does some of his finest work here, especially the vibrant, candied palette he uses for Delirium.
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on 13 December 2014
The sandman comics are simply pieces of great art, end of stort. Best litterature of this generation. That said this is merely one chapter in a whole beautifull graphic novel, which in turn is part of a great series. Unless you are a really hardcore collector, go for one of the collected editions and get the whole story instead!
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