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!Free Kindle ♴ The Sandman: Dream Country ☨ The third volume of the Sandman collection is a series of four short comic book stories In each of these otherwise unrelated stories, Morpheus serves only as a minor character Here we meet the mother of Morpheus s son, find out what cats dream about, and discover the true origin behind Shakespeare s A Midsummer s Night Dream The latter won a World Fantasy Award for best short story, the first time a comic book was given that honor collecting The Sandman 17 20 Note This is part two of a rambling multi volume re read of the series It will probably make better sense in context of other reviews The third volume of Sandman is several short stand alone stories It also includes my my favorite story in the entire series Where Shakespeare s troupe performs Midsummer s Night s Dream for the assembled host of Faerie Midsummer s is my favorite of Shakespeare s plays, I should mention I remember reading this and thinking What What the serious hell You can make Shakespeare a character in a comic This this I don t even This time when I read it, I noticed many subtle things going on than in my first two read throughs This time when I read it, I thought to myself We have a play with a play in it Then I thought No, people are watching a play with a play in it Then I thought, No I am reading a book about people watching a play with a play in it And the play is about the people watching it And the characters are part of a larger story which is, in fact, about stories Dammit, Gaiman Must you out meta me as well Can t I have just that one thing for myself The Twilight Zone comes into The Dreaming Creative Team Writer Neil GaimanIllustrators Kelly Jones, Malcolm Jones III, Colleen Doran Charles VessLetterer Todd KleinCovers Dave McKean MUSES, CATS, PLAYWRIGHTS ELEMENTS This is a wonderful volumen in the The Sandman run where the great storyteller, Neil Gaiman, unleashes his imagination to the fullest giving us the pleasure of reading four stories where anything can happenCALLIOPE You have changed, Oneiros In the old days, you would have left me to rot forever, without turning a hair Do you still hate me For what I did No I no longer hate you, Calliope I have learned much in recent times, and No matter I do not hate you, child Morpheus, the embodiment of Dream, has many names, and Oneiros is one of those who used at some point, for some purpose.It s certain that the topic of a failed writer capturing a muse a real one, from the Greek mythology to be able to write again successful novels is something used here and there, but Neil Gaiman gives us here, this theme with a wonderful past relationship between Morpheus and Calliope, the muse of this tale And how ironically, both have experienced similar situations helping to amend their complicated relationship.A dREAM OF THOUSANd CATS Mm I wonder what cats have to dream about Cats, there are cats everywhere, in every continent, in every country, in every town, almost in every street We are surrounded by cats And they dream They all dream And they all can dream the same dream And if they all can dream the same dream, they can change the worldA MIdSUMMER NIGHT S dREAM This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard This short story won the World Fantasy Award in 1991, of course the very next day, the committee changed the rules to avoid any other short story in the format of a comic book would be able to compete in that award God forbids that people may think that comic books are respectful and valuable literature as any other literary genre Geez Obviously not all comic books are high literature, but again not all prose novels are neither It s not a thing about the presentation format, it s about what s inside, as with any other book.Neil Gaiman gives us here the epic meeting between Morpheus and William Shakespeare and the unique chance of presenting a theater play to an audience like not other in history Refined literature in a graphic ambiance at its best.FA AdE I smoke a cigarette, and pretend I m normal Urania Blackwell is also known as Element Girl, but her life isn t easy, since while she possess remarkable abilities, this comes with a price of grotesque features provoking that she doesn t want to socialize and the most desperate choice, suicide isn t on the table since due her powers, she is invulnerable to any human weapon.Our lovely smiling Death is in the same floor of Urania s apartment She feels Urania s sadness But Death doesn t provoke demises, she is only there to accompany those destined to die However, she may have some idea I quit.Sandman is not for me I can honestly see why so many of you love it, but I can t force myself to do this any longer I don t like the art It reminds me of some scratchy shit that one of my kids drew The difference is, the artist isn t one of my kids, so I don t feel the need to put this up on my refrigerator Sorry, I know a lot of you love this style.There are a few different stories in this one, and I didn t like any of them.First one is about a writer who rapes a muse over and over again for inspiration Delightful Next up is some weird team up between Dream and William Shakespeare ZZZZZZZZZZAfter that, it s the story about some ex agent of some government sponsored superhero group At least, I think that s what they were It was honestly too bizarre boring for me to actually claim I knew what was going on Somehow, Ra the Sun god made this woman into Element Gal or something Long story short, she s ugly and wants to die.Death showed up to give her some advice, which was the only bright spot in the whole book.Ironic, no I d like to pretend I m cool enough to get it, but that would mean I d eventually have to read of these And that s not going to happen.Ever. I only have two kinds of dreams the bad and the terrible Bad dreams I can cope with They re just nightmares, and they end eventually The terrible dreams are the good dreams Dream Country is composed of four independent short stories with no real continuation from the previous volume The stories are centred around both imprisonment whether that s physical or mental and dreams, with the only connection to the previous volumes being the presence of characters we ve already been introduced to, like Morpheus and Death.Calliope is the story of a frustrated writer who is struggling to write his second book He acquires one of the Muses of Greek mythology and keeps her captive His inspiration comes back to him, but will it come at a cost A seemingly feminist piece from Gaiman that really made me think it s basically about how these two men violently rape Calliope and steal her creativity to fulfil their own wishes of success.A Dream of a Thousand Cats is a fantastic short story that is focused on the potential that a dream can hold A purebred Siamese cat unexpectedly gives birth to a pack of mutts and her owners aren t too happy about this, so they drown the poor kittens The Siamese cat is clearly heartbroken and goes on a spiritual journey as a means to work out why her children were taken away whilst doing so she encounters The Lord of Dreams, who tells her a fable Goddamn, this was excellent storytelling And a very powerful tale too It perfectly depicts how it takes a certain number of people acting together at the same time to rise up and fight for something that they believe in By far my favourite story in the collection.A Midsummer Night s Dream can you guess what one this was about It s a depiction of the very first performance of Shakespeare s A Midsummer Night s Dream before an audience of very bizarre creatures This was probably my least favourite issue in this volume, but I m blaming this on remembering NOTHING about this play from school I ve no doubt I was missing out on cool little references perhaps a crash course on the play would have fared me well It was still pretty funny at times and I will never not be in awe of Gaiman s imagination.Facade centres around a neglected character from the DC Universe Element Girl Again, I feel like perhaps this was slightly lost on me because I am not a DC fan It was still incredibly enjoyable but I wonder again if I was missing out on little things It s a very sad story as our protagonist lives quite a meagre existence, not leaving the house due to her unusual appearance It s gotten to the point where she no longer wants to live but is unable to kill herself Maybe there is someone who can help her with this Enter Death.This was a brilliant volume Each story was so unique and distinct from the others, but you can certainly see the themes that connect them all Excited for what comes next 4 stars. This is a fairly short volume, but each story is tight and delightful This is where I remember the Sandman comics coming into its own, and Morpheus himself hardly had any role in them It s all about stories Stories about stories Of course, I can make the same argument about the entire run of the series, but like I said, this is where it comes into its own.A kidnapped muse gets freed by her old lover A cat s dreaming of a new and free world What the Fae court really felt about A Midsummer Night s Dream A world of masks None of these short descriptions really do any of it justice Dream gets revenge on an artist that rapes Calliope for his success, and the revenge is so damn sweet it bears repeating a thousand times You want ideas I ll give you ideas muahahaha The cat s dream was of overturning the rule of man, while remembering that cats once DID rule man, but man dreamt of a new world with of it s kind and changed the nature of reality Can t cats bring themselves to reverse reality in the same way It brings a whole new spin on the adage, To herd cats But it was the story about the Shakespearian production that takes the cake Dream invites the entire Fae court to watch Will and his entire cast of players in a private production of the famous play, becoming a dream within a dream within a dream in a real sense, and because Puck, well, shenanigans ensue There was sadness and longing, and it was nearly, but not quite, 4th walled I think this one was my favourite.The mythbuilding is truly great stuff. All rightstarting to feel it now I m digging it Let s keep this Dream train rolling, Gaiman Onto Vol 4. An intermezzo between two longer story arcs, composed of four stand alone issues Part of the appeal for me is in the quality of work from the guest artists, Charles Vess and Kelley Jones in particular, but the main attraction remains in the creative writing of Gaiman 17 Calliope is a story about a muse from ancient Greece, a prisoner of the mortal plane where she is enslaved and abused by a writer who wants fame and fortune.18 A Dream of a Thousand Cats a story for cat lovers everywhere, one in which Morpheus takes the form of a black cat and inspires the animal kingdom to emancipate themselves from a form of slavery to humans through the power of dreams19 A Midsummer Night Dream is my favorite in the collection and continues an idea already introduced in Men of Good Fortune that two of Shakespeare plays were inspired and sponsored by Morpheus Here we participate in the first performance of the famous play, held in a meadow for the Lords and Ladies of Fairyland.20 Facade is the closest Gaiman comes to a classic superhero origin story, puting a dark twist on the saviour of the world mythos, showing the alienation and the psychological pressure of being a freak in the eyes of the normal people.I hope I will meet some of these characters in later issues Even if they prove to be one night stands, their stories have depth and showcase the themes I am becoming already familiar with the alternative history, the deconstruction of the superhero character, the use of mythical creatures in a contemporary environment. Sometimes I like to binge read a series, I enjoy it that much that I try to read it as quickly as possible The real world ceases to exist for a few days This really isn t anything particularly remarkable to say about a series, most readers do this sort of thing Though every so often, maybe once every two to three years or so of reading, a series will come along that is so utterly excellent that I don t want to read it I mean, I don t want to finish reading it So I pace myself, I take my time with it and savour its splendour This is most unusual for me, I m sure some of you may have noticed how quickly I can get through books.I started reading the Sandman almost a year ago now, and I ve only just finished the third volume This, in fact, took me almost two months to read I went back and re read issues I flicked through and enjoyed the artwork on multiple occasions For me The Sandman is the absolute peak of Gaiman s writing and intellect, and it s also the best graphic novel I ve read to date It would take a truly huge amount of ingenuity, creativity and originality to top something as good as this This volume, though not as good as the previous two, is a very enjoyable read Unlike the others, that have six issues that follow a story arc, this one is divided into four separate issues that tell a different tale It s almost like the comic book equivalent of a book of short stories I m sure there s may be a technical name for this, but if there is I certainly couldn t find it So I ve broke down my review to talk about each of the four 1 Calliope 4 What does the artistic muse dream about She dreams about not being a muse, of course She doesn t want to exist for the purpose of another s inspiration she wants to exist for herself, and herself only So she calls upon the lord of the dream world to come and save her from the confines of her existence 2 A Dream of a Thousand Cats 5 What do cats dream about Well, here they dream about being free they dream about breaking the shackles of human domestication, and, of course, ruling the world And in this world if enough beings dream for something to happen, with enough power, then it can become reality So our she cat heroine spreads the word she lets other cats know what they must do if they want change And I, being the cat crazed person that I am, absolutely loved the issue It s brilliantly told with a high level of wit 3 A Midsummer Night s Dream 4 More Shakespeare YAY The Bard makes good on his promise, that made in the previous volume, to write a play for Dream He performs it for him in the middle of the countryside with a very strange audience straight from the world of Fae No other audience could match such an interesting bunch As ever, I love the way Gaiman inserts Shakespeare into his series and shows how the concept of dream influenced his subsequent writing 4 Fa ade 2 This wasn t much of a Dream based issue it was a death based story It was okay, just about a woman who was physically mutilated during some crazy experience that left her longing for an end It was very short and lacked substance it would have been much better in a death based collection Speaking of which, I must read her issues at some point Death Deluxe She s certainly the most beautiful depiction of death I ve ever seen stares silently into the distance Final thoughts So this was another solid entry into the Sandman series, though it could never be quite as good as the rest when it doesn t tell a sustained story, allowing the drama and tension to build up through the issues, it was still very enjoyable though I think I m going to wait a good few months before I pick up the next volume Hopefully, this is the only one I give less than five stars. I ve been re reading a lot of books that I enjoyed years ago recently and it s been very rewarding for the most part, rediscovering books I loved all over again Unfortunately Sandman a series I really liked the first time round is not among them and it s so disappointing What I remember of Sandman was that the first two volumes weren t that great and that checks out but that the series starts to take off in this third volume, Dream Country, and it doesn t It s basically stuck in the mud for the third time Unlike the last two books which were lengthy narratives, Dream Country is a series of four thematically linked short stories with Dream and Death making cameos but not taking centre stage I almost gave up this re read after the first few pages where we see a woman getting raped Wow, this was darker than I remembered If I never see another rape in a comic, it ll be too soon That story is Calliope where a desperate author attempts to overcome writer s block by taking the physical manifestation of Homer s muse back to his house, locking her in a room, and raping her for years Turns out rape is just what he needs because he becomes a terrific success except he doesn t realise that Calliope is Morpheus ex And the Dream King has very recent unpleasant memories of being held against his will I suppose it s a noteworthy story for giving the reader of Morpheus life story he has a son, he had a partner and it sets up one of the book s two main themes disguise deception But I felt the writer s success was contrived and unconvincing and the story overall deeply repulsive Not a good start at all and it may have coloured my overall perception of the book for the worse.The second story is a whimsical fable of talking cats, one of whom recounts the story of how they once ruled the world until the humans dreamed that they were the rulers and reversed the roles It s cute and underlines the series theme of the power of dreams, and this volume s other major theme of power displacement, but it s kinda forgettable It s also the first time we see Morpheus live up to his name, shape shifting from his human ish form into a Dream cat, showing that he is Dream for all beings, not just humans.The World Fantasy Award winning A Midsummer Night s Dream is the third and best story of the book It s 1593 and Will Shakespeare and his troupe of actors, Lord Strange s Men, are in the provinces, about to perform Shakespeare s Dream for the first time and in front of a unique audience of faerie folk, guests of the Dream King himself I m quite surprised that this is the second story in the book where a writer has had their abilities gifted to them by an ethereal presence It annoys me a bit that Neil Gaiman is, in a way, undercutting humanity s achievements by saying this it s just so reductive And, though I can appreciate the clever way that Gaiman basically retells the Dream during the performance of the Dream with Dream in the audience , it still felt like a pretty flat story But I am a huge fan of Charles Vess art and his Robin Goodfellow was wonderfully creepy think a smaller Grinch esque figure with a twisted mindset And that scene between the Lady Titania the real Faerie Queene and Shakespeare s son, Hamnet, was especially chilling, as she hints of a plan to abduct him to her realm In real life, Hamnet would die three years later aged 11 and a few years after that Shakespeare would write Hamlet, but the suggestion that Titania stole him away to live amongst the faeriefolk is both charming and horrifying at once a brilliant writerly flourish from Gaiman The fourth and final story closes out the volume on the same miserable tone it opened with as Urania Blackwell aka DC superhero and Metamorpho lookalike Element Girl sits alone in a flat, depressed and suicidal Yup, this is the sad death of a minor superhero Yeesh Goth chick Death makes a cameo that lightens the mood a bit but otherwise this wasn t that great a story either Again it hits the themes of power transference and deception she can change her appearance using different elements , but that unshakeable gloomy tone is hard to like This came out in the early 90s and it s clear we re still feeling the after effects of Alan Moore s Watchmen where all superheroes must be dark and gritty beyond belief I m just not into that On the whole I wasn t that impressed with Gaiman s work in this book Midsummer is the only story worth reading while the others range from horrible to miserable to lightweight Charles Vess artwork is great and, though I didn t love it, there s nothing wrong with Kelley Jones, Colleen Doran and Malcolm Jones III s work here I almost want to stop re reading the series now and preserve my fond memories of the later books what if the rest of Sandman is as average as the first three volumes are Eh, in this instance I ll take reality over dreams onwards By the way, if you like Vess art and faerie stories, check out Susanna Clarke s The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories, illustrated by Vess with a corking collection of tales by Clarke