Preludes & Nocturnes
Six Word Summary: Dreams are cool! Death is cooler!
I Rate It: 8.5/10
Egged on by other fans of graphic novels in general and of Neil Gaiman specifically, I started a journey recently to cover the whole of the Sandman series. I expected my mind to be blown, because it’s a graphic novel written by Neil Friggin Gaiman, and it grows around the theme that there are immortal beings called the Endless who control almost every sphere of human life, and these beings interact with people while looking like goths. To tell the truth, my mind was a little bit blown just reading the wikipedia page.
Preludes & Nocturnes is the first book in the Sandman series. It tells the story of how Morpheus, the Dream Lord, was captured, robbed, and imprisoned by an occultist millionaire for almost a century. In his absence, with nobody to regulate and control their dreams, people start going quite insane. When Dream finally escapes his captivity at the hands of mortal, he must rebuild his Dream World which has fallen to shambles in his absence, but first he must find and reclaim his insignia which the mortals robbed him of – his crown (which looks like a gas mask for some reason), his pouch of neverending dream-sand, and his ruby, in which he has crystallized most of his powers.
The rest of the story is basically a collection course for the Sandman. He has to retrieve his pouch from an Englishman named John Constantine (whom DC enthusiasts will immediately recognize as Hellblazer), his helmet from a demon in hell which is now a triumvirate run by Lucifer, Azazel, and Beezlebub, and his ruby from a completely insane John Dee (yep, Dr. Destiny). But once you are done gibbering excitedly about the awesome graphics, bizarre concepts, and dramatic dialogue, you realize it’s a pretty simple retrieval course, at least the first two parts. He just goes into a haunted house with Constantine for the pouch, just engages in what is basically a word game with a demon for his helmet, and he just gets lucky with Dee.
Actually, ’24 Hours’, the section with John Dee is my favorite part of this book. Dee escapes from Arkham Asylum, and armed only with Dream’s ruby and a shitload of crazy, he takes a 24-hour cafe hostage- for 24 hours. making his fellow guests and the stewardess gradually lose control of their minds and action and turn on each other with horrific confessions, animal violence, rape, and slaughter. Hee!
I also loved the last part that introduces Dream’s older sister, Death of the Endless. Death is the mistress of the realm of death, and she also acts as a sort of psychopomp for the recently dead, guiding them from the sphere of life to the other sphere. She appears not as a grim reaper but as a cheerful goth punk girl, just doing her job.
The Sandman books are really expensive, so I’m buying them one by one, not more than two or three a month. The first book makes for an amazing beginning, and while it could have done with some more complications in the story, the artwork is worth slobbering over. It manages to convey a promise of wonderfully explosive things to come in the series (SPOILER: They do! They do! They totally do!). Neil Gaiman stirs together myths and fables in a concoction of purely brilliant imagination, and presents it in a language that is both engaging and fun for adult readers. Delicious!
Watch this space for more Sandman!
-Amritorupa ” Wet Dream ^” Kanjilal
Oh, by the way, I use Grammarly for free proofreading because to err might be human, but to not proofread is more fiendish than Lucifer, Azazel, and Beezlebub put together.