May 12, 2009

The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes

Hi folks, it's been awhile! I'm Olga from Get Thee to a Punnery!

I'm not really sure why, but it's taken me years to finally read a book by Neil Gaiman. Yes, I've heard lots of things about him, and they've all been good things. He sounds like he would be right up my alley: dark, brooding stories about mysterious people in interesting and (sometimes) made-up lands.

Part of the problem is that Neil Gaiman has a huge bibliography and I didn't know anyone who could point me in the right direction. This is the same problem I have with Terry Pratchett. I would love to read Pratchett, but I don't know where to begin. If anyone would like to recommend me a Pratchett book to start reading, I would be thrilled.

Anyway, back to Gaiman. I have finally broken through the bibliography and started where I probably should have years ago: The Sandman, Volume 1: Preludes and Nocturnes.

Preludes and Nocturnes introduces us to the Sandman, the king of the Dreamworld. When we first meet him, he is captured by an ambitious magician, stripped of his clothing, his helmet, his magic sandbag and his red jewel. Naked and powerless, he is imprisoned in the basement of the magician's estate for decades inside a magical sphere. Years go by and the magician dies of old age, feeble and no closer to the Sandman's power than before he had captured the demi-god.

The magician's son, frightened by the Sandman's power, is too afraid to set the king of dreams free after so many years of imprisonment. Finally, when the son is nearing his own death, the Sandman is able to break through his prison and wrecks revenge on the cowardly magician's son.

Meanwhile, the Dreamworld is in a shambles. While the Sandman is imprisoned, chaos reigns through the dreams. Some people simply stop sleeping, while others fall asleep and never wake up again—until the Sandman escapes.

While he finally has his freedom, the Sandman must now find his stolen possessions, no easy feat now that they have been scattered. The Sandman travels through hell to challenge a demon for his helmet, finds his sand in the possession of a former lover of John Constantine, and his red jewel in the hands of a crazed man who has turned it into a weapon powerful enough to bring down society.

To say that this introduction to the Sandman is fast-paced and rivetting is not giving the book justice. I can see why people rave about the series. Gaiman is a masterful storyteller. Part comic book hero, part fairy tale, it's unlike any comic book I've read in awhile.

Rating: 4/5


Ashere said...

W?regards to pratchett, start with Good Omens; it's a cowritten affair w/Neil Gaiman. I started his diskworld series with Night Watch, and went back and forth from there. Try that.

Mervi said...

I'm glad to see that you're enjoying Gaiman.

Here are some reading order guides to Discworld: