Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman. Where does one even begin? I was curious about Mr. Gaiman’s Sandman series as I’m told repeatedly, that’s it’s popular. I had bought Endless Nights not realizing that it was not the first volume in the series. I rushed back to the store and got a copy of Preludes and Nocturnes. Here is the story so far:
In “Sleep of the Just” and “Imperfect Hosts” tells the story of an occultist group, led by Roderick Burgess or “Lord Magus”, who tries to summon the physical manifestation of Death. The ritualistic ceremony, however, is unsuccessful because what they conjure and trap to earth, is the The King of Dreams. Quickly, they strip him of his tools (helmet, ruby and sand pouch). Dream stays captured on earth for 70 years. Never speaking to his captors, biding his time, planning retribution, and watching each one grow old and die, until finally, he is able to escape when one of the guards falls asleep. Note: The guards were always warned to not sleep and were supplied with stimulants. End note. After his capture and escape, Dream’s journey and goal is to reclaim and restore his dream realm and find his tools. The journey for his tools is what makes up much of the first set of stories. We run into some fascinating characters along the way, too.
A few remarks, Dream goes by several names, most notably “Lord of Dreams, Sandman and Morpheus.” Also, the stories do start off rather ungainly and confusing (at least to me) at the start. It does pay-off for the reader if you just stick with it as the stories began to become more fluid and interesting. Dream has to find his tools and summons the Furies to help him. They only give him one answer a piece and the rest he has to find out for himself. Dream is tired, weak but he must find his tools to rebuild his realm that was destroyed while he was gone. In “A Hope in Hell” , he goes to the Gates of Hell and battles a demon for his helmet. In “Dream a Little Dream of Me” Morpheus is paired with John Constantine to get his sand pouch back. The next three installments, “Passengers”, “24 Hours” and “Sound and Fury” has Morpheus searching for his ruby and battling Dr. Destiny.
My favorite of this set of stories has to be “24 hours”. Truly horrific and brilliant. I went to the bookstore yesterday, to grab the rest of the series and the bookseller from behind the counter, asks me if I had seen this: the Absolute Sandman with the first twenty stories with new coloring and added bonus materials encased with leather. I bought it immediately. I needed a second reading anyway. There are to be four volumes of The Sandman series released in bound leather for collectors. Sandman series so far has been very entertaining. I am enjoying it. There’s plenty of adventures to be read and I can’t wait. So, I passed my copy of Preludes and Nocturnes to my sister to read while I enjoy the rest of the stories in this volume. Comic book novel fans shouldn’t miss this one. Especially those new to the comic scene like me, put this on your list to be read. Absolute Sandman: Volume 1 (damn this book is heavy) has: “Preludes and Noctures (1-8)”, “The Dolls House (9-16)” and “Dream Country (17-20).” Enjoy.