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Well, where to begin?
Firstly, my job is fairly hard. To begin with; anyone who has read a Sandman book won't need me to tell them to read this one, as they are so absorbing that nothing could stop you. Secondly, no review could give the complete impression that reading the series gives. Thirdly, reviewing one book out of ten is like reviewing one player on a football team, or one episode in a soap.. very hard.
Ok, a first timer's whistle-stop tour of Sandman. This is hardly an easy thing to do. The Sandman series nominally follows a character called 'Dream'. Dream is one of the seven 'Endless', who are embodiments of the various basic functions of existence. The Endless are as old, and in two cases, older, than the universe itself. The Endless are (in order of age) Destiny, Death and Dream (the eldest 3) and Destruction, Despair and Desire (twins), then finally Delerium, the youngest (who was once called Delight, there's a long story there).
Anyway, Sandman follows the exploits of Dream, who is known by many names. To quote the series (something you'll find yourself doing excessively): Dream accumulated names to himself like others accumulate friends. Although the above is true to an extent, what Sandman is really about is stories. There are several books (a game of you, and World's End, most prominently) which barely even feature Morpheus at all, but add to the tapestry of stories which make Sandman so special.
In fact, World's End has the most emphasis on stories, and is (in my humble opinion) the most elegant, carefully developed and well, beautiful books in the series (just behind The Wake, which, if you've read the series in order is so, for want of a better word, emotional for the reader, and so beautiful, that it almost transcends the medium).
Anyway, to sum up, Sandman's a long and windy road, and to go into further detail would do nothing like do this series justice.
For Sandman virgins, I strongly recommend starting with book one (review to come), and working your way up sequentially, as otherwise you'll miss the organic progression which is present (although the books don't follow strictly sequentially, the story line unfolds much more subtly and elegantly if you read them in order), and a lot of the references for Sandman buffs (readers).
Anyway, onto the book itself: Firstly, this isn't technically a part of the main Sandman storyline (in that it doesn't involve Morpheus- not in any major way). Secondly, this is a book worthy of many, many, many prizes and accolades. The characters, in their short circuit upon our collective stage, are deep enough to pull you in, but not as expanded as the main characters (see the relationship between Charlene and Brent). Also, the stories all tie in with the main theme of Sandman, on many different levels. We have the essence of Sandman: stories. We have a deeper theme, people pretending to be other people, travels and development, etc.
The Sandman books as a whole do require a level of intelligence, and they aren't for people who just like a quick bit of action (not that there's anything wrong with that: I recommend Preacher for those people, by the way). However, once you've read the first book, you'll be completely addicted. The whole atmosphere and tone of the series is fantastic, and I can't recommend it too highly.
This book, as a stand alone, or if read as the first in the series (which is possible, although unadvisable), will make more sense than most of the other books, as it stands apart from the rest of the 'main plot' (Morpheus's), which is one of its strengths in my opinion. It also fits fantastically with the rest of the series. In short, unmissable.
Interesting first op. Thanks, and a belated welcome to Ciao! karen :O)
Matildas_world 14.02.2002 21:05
Hi ya, Well Done on the re-write much better, well spaced and wasn't too daunting. I don't like seeing lots of words all packed together, I go cross-eyed!! But back to you, I can see this is a subject that is hard to encapsulate in one review but you did a good job. Look forward to the next one! VH!!! Matty xx