BOOK REVIEW: The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman

Title: The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes

Author: Neil Gaiman

Book Length: 240 Pages

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Comics, Fantasy, Horror, Graphic Novels

Read Start Date: March 22, 2023

Read Finish Date: March 26, 2023

No. of Book in Series: 1

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman’s transcendent series THE SANDMAN is often hailed as the definitive Vertigo title and one of the finest achievements in graphic storytelling. Gaiman created an unforgettable tale of the forces that exist beyond life and death by weaving ancient mythology, folklore and fairy tales with his own distinct narrative vision.

In PRELUDES & NOCTURNES, an occultist attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. After his 70 year imprisonment and eventual escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. On his arduous journey Morpheus encounters Lucifer, John Constantine, and an all-powerful madman.

This book also includes the story “The Sound of Her Wings,” which introduces us to the pragmatic and perky goth girl Death.

My Review: The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes is a graphic novel first published in 1989 and is the first installment in The Sandman comic book series.

The story follows the character of Dream, also known as Morpheus, who is one of the seven Endless, a group of powerful beings who embody universal concepts such as destiny, death, and desire. At the beginning of the story, Dream is captured and imprisoned by a group of human occultists for seventy years. After finally managing to escape, he sets out to reclaim his lost objects of power and regain his former realm. Along the way, he encounters various characters, including his sister Death and the demon Azazel, and faces a series of challenges that test his strength, will, and ingenuity.

I picked up this graphic novel after my boyfriend had finished it. He had watched the Netflix series and then had wanted to read the graphic novel it was based on. I have not yet seen the Netflix series, but after hearing my boyfriend gush over the novel, I figured I’d give it a try.

One of the most striking aspects of The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes is its artwork. The book features illustrations from several different artists, including Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, and Malcolm Jones III, and each brings a unique style and perspective to the story. From the dreamlike landscapes of the Dreaming to the gritty realism of 1980s London, the artwork in this book is truly stunning and adds an incredible amount of depth and atmosphere to the narrative.

Gaiman uses characters from a wide range of sources, blending together elements of mythology, folklore, and popular culture to create a world that is simultaneously familiar and otherworldly, and he populates this world with an eclectic cast of characters who come from a variety of different traditions.

For example, Dream himself is based on the character of Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. However, he is not a direct adaptation of the mythological figure – rather, Gaiman takes inspiration from Morpheus and creates a new, more complex character who embodies both the power and the vulnerability of the dream world.

Other characters in the book come from a variety of different sources as well. For example, the character of John Dee is based on the real-life historical figure of the same name, who was a famous alchemist and advisor to Queen Elizabeth I. In Gaiman’s series however, Dee is reimagined as a villain who seeks to control Dream’s power for his own ends.

Similarly, the character of Cain is based on the biblical figure of the same name, who is best known for murdering his brother Abel. In The Sandman Cain is one of the immortal beings who inhabit the Dreaming, and he is constantly at odds with his brother Abel, who is also a character in the book.

Other characters in the book come from more contemporary sources e.g. the character of John Constantine, who I know from the movie, but I think is based on another comic book.

The use of these different characters from different sources adds an incredible amount of depth and richness to the world of The Sandman. From reading the introduction to the graphic novel, it is my understanding that such a blending is unique to this series of graphic novels and has never been done before or since.

I am only giving it 4 stars instead of 5 mainly due to two reasons: pacing and confusion. Some parts of the story were more engaging than others, and I found myself feeling ambivalent towards certain parts while feeling more invested in others. Additionally, given the multi-layered nature of the story and the introduction of many characters, it can become a little overwhelming and confusing to keep track of everything. Although I appreciate Gaiman’s efforts to build the world and characters in the first volume of the series, it can be challenging to get used to, particularly for someone who is not accustomed to reading graphic novels. Nonetheless, I acknowledge that Gaiman has executed this well and created an intricate world for readers to explore.

Definitely a novel worth reading!


4 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman

  1. Pingback: BOOK REVIEW: The Sandman Vol. 2: The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman – The Legal Alien

  2. Pingback: Goodreads Monday: May 1, 2023 | The Legal Alien

  3. Pingback: BOOK REVIEW: The Sandman Vol. 3: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman | The Legal Alien

  4. Pingback: BOOK REVIEW: The Sandman Vol. 4: Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman | The Legal Alien

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