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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sandman IV & V

Sandman IV: Season of Mists & Sandman V: A Game of You by Neil Gaiman

In earlier novels, it was revealed that Dream had banished his one-time lover, Nada to hell, where she had languished for 10,000 years. In Season of Mists, prodded by his siblings, Dream decides that the time has come to free her, even though Lucifer had threatened to kill him not too long ago. When he gets to Hell, though, things are not what he expected. I don't want to give any more away than that, but this is an entertaining novel that gets back into the story arc of the first two novels.

Like the other Sandman novels, this one introduces a short story in the middle that seems unrelated at first, but turns out to be set during the drama of the rest of the novel. Although a little creepy, it ends up happy (happy-ish?).

This novel also sets up some interesting characters that ultimately play a part in later novels. We meet Dream's entire family, Death, Despair, Desire, Delirium, and Destiny, and they all have a nice family dinner. Okay let's admit it, they are pretty dysfunctional. Nearly immortal beings with completely different aims, and age-old rivalries do not a good dinner party make.

We also get to meet quite a few gods, goddess, and beings of the mythological variety. Again, they make for interesting company hanging out together in Dream's Castle. Part of Gaiman's brilliance in this series is imagining how all these bizarre characters would look like and how they'd react to one another.

A Game of You on the other hand, while incorporating a few characters from previous novels, is very separate from the rest of the Sandman story arcs and actually does not focus much on Dream at all. Barbie, who was introduced in The Doll's House, has stopped dreaming. But her life begins to take a strange turn when a giant creature that she seems to half remember from her dreams calls her name on the street and tries to warn her of something before being shot to death by policemen.

Barbie quickly finds herself caught up in a conspiracy she could never have imagined. Pulled away into the Dreaming, she encounters a world where she is princess and her loyal subjects are in hiding from an evil creature called the Cuckoo. Barbie's friends, Hazel, Foxglove, and Wanda, all waking from horrible nightmares, realize that Barbie has fallen into a sleep she won't wake from. Their neighbor, Thessaly, who is, as it turns out, a witch, offers to help. She helps them all enter the Dreaming in order to find Barbie and bring her back from the clutches of the Cuckoo.

This novel is not nearly as expansive as most of the Sandman novels, but it is a nice change. I enjoyed the characters, especially Thessaly. Although she does help Barbie's friends look for her, she is willing to do it in the face of extreme consequences. She is motivated by revenge and even dares to defy Dream when he finally does make an appearance.

Two excellent additions to the Sandman series.

Should I read it? Do you like Neil Gaiman? Then why the heck haven't you read them already?


Debi said...

Can't wait to come back and actually read this post, Kim! I'm about to start Dream Country...and I just don't want to ruin any of the surprise about what's coming in the future. Even without reading your post, I'm fairly confident in guessing that you enjoyed I right?

Oh said...

Hey, Kim! Stop by my blog (sat, 3/14 entry) for a little "surprise!"

Michelle said...

I've recently discovered Neil Gaiman, but I haven't tried the Sandman series as yet. I keep telling myself that I'm 'saving' them, but I think truthfully I'm too lazy to start a series.