Our assignment was to read the first two issues of Season of Mists: Prologue and Chapter One. Jaybird will be reviewing both this week.

Glyph’s introduction to Sandman, in three parts, here, here, and here.

Preludes and Nocturnes recaps here: Glyph and Patrick tackled the first four issues, Jaybird tackled the fifth, Glyph recapped six and seven. Mike Schilling recapped number eight.

A Doll’s House recaps here: KatherineMW took on the first two issues, then the next two issues. KatherineMW and Jason Tank then reviewed the fifth and sixth, respectively. Mike Schilling reviewed the final two issues.

Dream Country recaps here: Glyph reviewed Caliope then Jaybird and Maribou reviewed Dream of a Thousand Cats in the first review post for Dream Country. Alan Scott reviewed A Midsummer Night’s Dream then Mike Schilling reviewed Façade in the second.

It’s very difficult to discuss this book without discussing the next one (or the one ofter that, or the one after that), if you want to discuss something with a major plot point: please rot13 it. That’s a simple encryption that will allow the folks who want to avoid spoilers to avoid them and allow the people who want to argue them to argue them.

We good? We good! Everybody who has done the reading, see you after the cut!

Oh, I hope I do these stories justice. This is my favorite arc and the story that has me keep slapping my head and yelling “OF COURSE!!!” as he takes the tools he has shown us with his first 20 issues and builds something that, somehow, manages to not only be a surprise but, in retrospect, absolutely inevitable.

Episode 0

(This episode has the subtitle: “In which a family reunion occasions certain personal recriminations; assorted events are set in motion, and a relationship thought long done with proves to have much relevance today”.)

And, with that, we begin our tale in the Garden of Destiny.

Destiny meets with the Grey Ladies (who seem to be an amalgam of Hecate and The Moirai) who are making another of their appearances. “Why are you here?” “Because we’re here.” (Roll the bones)

Look in your book, Destiny is told. A King will forsake his kingdom. Life and Death will clash and fray. The Oldest Battle begins once more. And all these things have their Genesis in your Garden.

Destiny rejoins: nothing starts Here. The sisters, however, counter: Everything starts Someplace… and Here is as good a place as Any.

It’s all in Destiny’s book, by the way… which he goes on to read and have it explained what he is going to do before he goes on to do it.

It, in this case, is a family meeting. An Endless Family Meeting.

One by one (minus one), we meet the fam. Death, Dream, Desire, Despair, and Delerium. Some interesting pieces of information are given us:

Death has formal vestments but prefers to dress informally. Destiny asks her to wear something “more appropriate” and she puts on the full Victorian Era as imagined by a goth chick. (I admit to finding that exceptionally alluring back in the 90’s… now I find myself agreeing with Death that, hey, jeans and a tank should be good enough… I mean, jeez. Despair shows up naked. You don’t see Destiny saying “could you throw something a little more gothy on” to her. Though, I suppose, the ring is Despair’s formal attire. She could show up wearing a get-up like Death’s without the ring and I suppose that Destiny would make that request. There’s no excuse for Desire’s outfit, though.)

Dream points out that this is the first Family Meeting since “the prodigal” announced that he was leaving.

Despair misses this yet-unnamed brother. (This strikes me as notable, for some reason I can’t put my finger on.)

Desire and Despair are not only siblings but twins.

Delerium was once Delight but Something Happened.

Dream and Destiny are the two Endless who are the most conscious of their duties and the most meticulous in their execution.

And there is Death.

We find out that Destiny is about as into giving decent info as The Grey Ladies (“Why are we here?” “Because you’re here.” (roll the bones)) and find out that the purpose of the meeting is the meeting… and, like any given Endless Family Meeting that I’ve ever been to, things go downhill quickly… (Delerium, I find out, can create life) and it comes down to Desire and Dream having it out over Dream’s “love life”. Apparently, he hasn’t had a whole lot of healthy relationships and, more importantly, he’s kind of a crappy boyfriend. Nada (remember her from the intro to A Doll’s House?) got sent to Hell after she declined a relationship with the Dream King. Desire brings this up and it pisses Dream off something awful.

Dream leaves the table and we find out, both surprisingly and unsurprisingly, that Death can make Desire shut up.

Death then goes and tells Dream something that we all know: Dude. Seriously, sending the chick to Hell was a dick move.

Surprisingly and inevitably, Dream realizes that, huh, maybe he shouldn’t have done that. Surprisingly and inevitably, he says that he needs to undo it. He disappears to make ready after telling Death, hey, I need to fix this and, hey, I’ll see you again (but maybe the next time will be when you’re performing your duties).

The prologue ends with an amazing scene of Destiny and a candle framed in the same shot. “He is returning to Hell” (the candle is snuffed) “It has begun.”

Episode 1

(This episode has the subtitle: “In which the Lord of Dreams makes preparations to visit the Realms Infernal; Farewell’s are said; a toast is drunk; and in Hell the Adversary makes certain preparations of His own”)

We open in Hell and learn a few things. Some surprising. Some not so surprising.

Hell is unpleasant. Some (many? most?) of the people who populate Hell think they’re there against their will. If Hell wasn’t unpleasant these people would be disappointed. Hell is not just populated by people, but also by things that we’ll call “demons” but that name doesn’t encapsulate what these other entities are. “Demons” find Hell to be just as bad. As bad as it gets, actually.

Jump to the Dreaming (in such a way that I flipped back and forth to make sure that I wasn’t dealing with two pages stuck together) where we see Matthew, the Raven, and Lucien, the Librarian of the Dreaming. We establish that the Library holds a much different collection that we’d find downtown. The Library of the Dreaming has all of the books that were only written or finished in dreams (I imagine that Robert Jordan’s last six books of the 20-volume Wheel of Time are down (up?) there).

Dream makes an announcement over the Dreaming’s version of the loudspeaker to Matthew and Lucien about a meeting and Matthew expresses surprise. Lucien explains that, in the Dreaming, Dream can do whatever he wants.

At the meeting itself, we are given a tiny “Previously: On Sandman” story that catches all of us up: We revisit what happened in Book One when Dream went to hell. We revisit what happened in A Doll’s House with what happened to Nada. And we find out that Dream was ticked about how The Dreaming went to crap the last time he disappeared for a while and how, seriously, don’t let that crap happen again… but ends on a hopeful note. Perhaps this is nothing at all. Perhaps this is much ado that won’t even be a blip. Dream is just giving everybody fair warning (and, as we find out, this fair warning extends even to Hell Itself).

Matthew, playing Jimmy Olsen to Morpheus’s Superman, asks about Lucifer Morningstar and we establish that Lucifer is, quite likely, the most powerful entity in the universe (except one). “More powerful than you?” “By far.”

Fair warning sent to Hell Itself consists of a messenger. Cain. Some “Demons” bring Cain to Himself and Lucifer speaks to Cain… and notes that He knows him. “The first Man born of Woman. Cain.”

We have been assured that The Lord God Himself knows each of us by name (indeed, the hairs on our heads). It would not be a surprise to find that The Lord God Himself knows your name. To find that Lucifer Himself knows it? That must be unsettling.

Cain begins to give Dream’s message but is interrupted by Lucifer (who, all things considered, probably would be impatient and probably wouldn’t have much use for protocol). Cain spits it out: “Dream is coming here.” Having delivered the message, the Demonic Personal Retinue of Lucifer Himself ask if they may now chew Cain up and spit him out… where Lucifer tells them no. He cannot give them permission to do that. He brushes aside the bangs of Cain to reveal a Mark and Lucifer explains that Cain has been under the protection of The Lord God Himself since the fourth chapter of Genesis. “Loose his bounds and leave Us.”

(Seriously, the first time I read that part of the story, I had a sharp intake of breath. Of course Dream would send Cain. It was a surprise at the start but, in retrospect, that was the one guy Dream *COULD* send.)

Lucifer and Cain then have a short theological discussion about the Cainite Heresy. According to Lucifer (but not Wikipedia), the Cainites were a debauched and abberant sect that worshipped Cain (and saw him as the victim of Abel)… and no greater percentage of Cainites ended up in Hell than any other religion’s followers. “Amusing, isn’t it?”, Lucifer asks. Cain responds, “I wouldn’t know.”

I suppose he wouldn’t.

Lucifer then does his part to explain the stakes: the last time Dream came to Hell, Dream embarrassed Lucifer publicly. Lucifer swore to destroy Dream… and now Lucifer knows that Dream will be back and soon.

We jump to Hippolyta Hall and her new, yet unnamed, baby. Dream stops by long enough to see this child formed in his realm and tell his mother that his name is Daniel.

We jump through dreams to find Cecile Latour where Dream finds a bottle of Chateau Lafite 1828. (I googled it, it looks like there aren’t any… but there are prices for 1928 here. $3000. I’m sure it’s an investment.) Dream goes on to find Hob and to sit with him and explain that, hey, maybe their next drink at the pub won’t happen. Dream acknowledges that he may be gone a long time and Hob gets a shiver when he thinks about what Dream would consider to be “a long time”.

If we might not meet again, we will need a toast and it ought to be a good one… and Hob gives us this:

To Absent Friends, Lost Loves, Old Gods, and the Season of Mists; and may each and every one of us always give the Devil His due.

One of those toasts that, of course, was the only one Hob could have made. Hob’s current squeeze wakes him up due to Hob’s talking in his sleep and Hob notices half a bottle of something on the nightstand. (I wonder if the label is legible…)

Jump back to Hell where Cain is begging for mercy from Lucifer Morningstar as Himself is giving a monologue. It’s strange. If the intention is to get me to feel a bit of pity for Cain, the intention was misguided. I admit to thinking that, yeah, Cain probably would benefit from wishing that someone else would be nicer to him. (Yeah, I know… Cain is not just the First Man born of Woman, but an archetype in his own right and his killing of Abel is something that is important for him to do, over and over and over again. Still.)

There is a danger in writing lines and putting them in the mouth of Lucifer. They must be worthy of Him. If you cannot make a line worthy of the second most powerful entity in all of creation, you should probably write a story about some of the lesser entities.

“But there is only one that We have ever owned to be Our superior. There is but one greater than Us. And to Him… to Him We no longer speak.”

Okay. That’ll do.

“Go back to your master. Tell him We received his message. Tell him We will be waiting for him. Tell him… tell him that Hell is anticipating his visit most avidly.”

And Cain is sent off allowing Lucifer to give a speech to Hell in mirror image to the one Dream gave the Dreaming. The high note is that many think that one day in Hell is much like another (the downside of it being as bad as it gets)… but Dream’s next visit to Hell will give everyone a day to remember For Ever.

We return to the Dreaming to see Lucien announce to Dream that Cain has returned. We see Cain give Dream Lucifer’s message (not the message, just the content) and he’s whinging about Lucifer treating him poorly. (I still find amusement instead of pity. I suppose I am a bad person.) Lucien points out that Dream can still change his mind and Dream points out to Lucien that, indeed, he cannot.

And we get ready to Go To Hell.


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to


  1. I want a lot of the books from Lucien’s library, but especially Psmith and Jeeves.

  2. Last six books of Robert Jordans Wheel of Time? Pish posh, the way the man wandered and roamed in his last published books the Library of Dream probably has six WINGS full of books of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.

  3. It is interesting that Destiny and the Three Ladies seem very bound by fate. The ladies are there, because that is where they are supposed to be. Destiny calls the meeting, which sets things in motion with no further action on his part.

    Delirium is that odd family member. No one really expects anything of her, so she can get away without formal vestments.

    Death seems to be the one most able to keep any of the siblings in line.

    I am fond of the play on words with the Land of Nod, when Lucifer is explaining Cain’s story.

    • Delight changed to Delerium a “long time ago”. This is the narrator telling us this, but I suspect that his attitude towards “a long time” overlaps with the attitude of the Endless.

      • There are a couple other bits regarding Delerium that I find interesting – in her bio, the jab at Coleridge (“an inveterate liar”) amuses me for some reason; and the implication that her “affliction” gives her access to knowledge that is occult even to Destiny.

    • It is interesting that Destiny and the Three Ladies seem very bound by fate.

      I’ll say, some of those discussions with Destiny reminded me of Dr Manhattan – “Why did you do that?”, “Because the time had come for me to do that?”

      • Heh. Now you are making me imagine Dr. Manhattan and Destiny each muttering to themselves, upon meeting the other:

        “Fishing know-it-all…”

  4. something that, somehow, manages to not only be a surprise but, in retrospect, absolutely inevitable

    Nailed what makes this arc (and much of Sandman from here on out) such a pleasure to read. Gaiman masters misdirection (“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, ma cherie”, as we see/hear on Dream’s liquor run) in such a way that the story, which very obviously building to some climax, turns on a dime to something else, keeping us as readers off-balance in that best of ways; because at any moment we can turn a corner and burst out laughing, or be completely shattered, or be lost in melancholy reverie.

    IMO, someone who took this lesson to heart was Joss Whedon, who as a young writer and “Sandman” fan working on “Roseanne” was reportedly responsible for the “Sandman” posters in Darlene’s bedroom, and who is well-known to use a similar sort of emotional and plot pivoting, painting with all sorts of emotional tones in the same story or even scene, and mashing up high and low culture/humor (or deriving comedy from mixing formal and informal speech in conversation).

    At this point in the series, some of the previous heavy layering of references/themes is somewhat set aside in favor of plot and relationships, but I think Gaiman nails that “family” dynamic in the Endless. Yep, that’s a family argument all right, someone needling, someone trying to keep the peace (and the missing sibling used to be the one to fill the “peacemaker” role)…

    I like the thumbnail bios of each family member (particularly the bit about the sect in what is now Afghanistan that worshiped Despair), building to the blunt finality of the punchline, “And then there is Death” – just those words with no other data; and only her image clearly-defined, where all the prior ones were blurred and indistinct.

    This is great, because we KNOW Death already: both the character, because she is so well-defined by Gaiman, and open, and we have spent more time with her than any other sibling, so we know her maybe better than we know Dream; and in the meta- sense that all of us IRL know her, or will meet her one day at the end of all things, so what else IS there to say, besides maybe “she’s beautiful.”?

    And of course, she’s the one Dream will listen to. But boy, is he stubborn, and slow to admit what everyone else can see clearly; listening to him haltingly confess his crime in front of his subjects before his departure is kind of painful.

    As JB and RR both mention, the bit about Cain being the only possible envoy from the land of “Nod” is just great. To JB’s point about whether we are supposed to have sympathy for Cain, well, no. He is shown to be sort of arrogant in his meeting with Lucifer at first; because of who/what he is and his protective mark, he’s used to being THE murderer and the mean motherfisher, never the potential victim (Cain even tried to deceive Dream when we first met him – he’s ballsy).

    But what he doesn’t realize, until Lucifer shows him, is that Lucifer is the ONLY being to whom that protective mark means nothing – Lucifer only lets Cain live, because it serves Lucifer’s purposes to do so, not because of the mark. There’s one being in the universe who ever told the Creator “NO” to His face, and Cain is face-to-face with him.

    So this isn’t really a “build sympathy for Cain” moment, it’s a “remember who Morpheus is dealing with in Lucifer” moment – Lucifer is that thing that *the* archetypal liar/murderer is *afraid* of.

    • One thing I really enjoyed about my rereading of the whole “Sandman” run was seeing how very neatly everything fits together from start to finish. And these issues really lay the groundwork. (That’s not spoiler-ish, right? Properly vague? No need to encypher?)

      • Nah, you’re fine. I said something similar in my intro. It really is clockwork, wheels within wheels. I don’t know if Gaiman planned it all in advance, or if he and his editors were just retcon/continuity savants. But it really does fit, just enough to feel “real” (that is, even the loose ends – and there’s at least one fairly huge question left open, which I can’t wait to ask – are the kinds of things that are often unknown in real life also. As many viewpoints as we are afforded or are capable of apprehending, there are still always others that are forever unavailable to us. In these issues there is a line about how we perceive but one aspect of the Endless, like a single facet of a jewel; the stories we tell, both the fictional ones and the ones we THINK represent reality, are much the same).

        • there’s at least one fairly huge question left open, which I can’t wait to ask

          I have a pretty good guess about which question you mean, and I’m dying for that discussion to happen.

        • there’s at least one fairly huge question left open, which I can’t wait to ask

          But, Brain, we’re already naked.

    • I like the thumbnail bios … building to the blunt finality of the punchline, “And then there is Death”

      It gives me the sense of “in twenty-five words or less…”, with the other bios seeming – I hesitate between “baroque” and “bizarre”. Then the last one shocks by contrast, and you realize that the one word is sufficient.

  5. Also, two other things:

    Love that Dream thinks to stop in and say his possible goodbyes to Hob; Dream obviously worried that he won’t make the next meeting, and not wanting to just vanish without saying goodbye, because that is not what friends do.

    And, Lyta Hall seems more than a bit unstable. After screaming and threatening Dream (and he, of course, treats her distractedly and high-handedly – oh Dream, will you EVER learn?) she smiles and appears to accept his naming of the baby. Um, OK. I think if I hated/feared Morpheus that much, I’d name the kid “Moon Unit” just to fish with him.

    • I never really took it as approving of his name. I think she just realized “yes, he is right. His name IS Daniel.” It is not that she liked the name, just that it was the only one that would work.

      • That may be; but she still smiles, and seems to immediately forget Dream was ever there. I dunno, it just seems weird.

        Of course, she shacked up with her dead husband in a space station in a child’s artificial dreamworld, so “weird” is sort of par for the course.

      • Yeah, she gave hints earlier that she was a name-realist. He doesn’t look like the names she had handy… so she was waiting to discover what the baby’s name was. I get the feeling that Dream was not naming the baby. Dream was just giving her a little bit of revelation.

  6. This is the first book that slowed me down in rereading it. There’s a much greater density of important detail here than we’ve seen up to now. It sets up so much that comes after, and so, knowing what comes after, I was reminded of a lot of it.

    I think Despair misses her brother so much because his domain feeds hers so naturally.

    In the panel where Dream names Daniel, is that a teddy bear or kitten or something hiding in the shadows of the bassinet? Does Daniel have special abilities hinted at by that image?

    • I think Despair misses her brother so much because his domain feeds hers so naturally.

      This is an excellent observation.

      Similarly, I speculated in a prior thread that Desire and Dream don’t get along because Desire, well, desires action, not idle contemplation, so Dream makes Desire impatient (he “inflames” Desire); and at the same time Desire needs Dream, and they are more alike than either would ever like to admit (we often use the terms “dreams” and “desires” almost interchangeably…”I have been dreaming about you all day” actually refers to something more in Desire’s realm).

          • Got it (along with the [gorgeous] P. Craig Russell version of “The Dream Hunters” and the deluxe edition “Death”) for Christmas.

          • It’s also notable for an appearance by pre-Delirium Delight, and the ultimate origin story of Superman. (And it’s only a two-panel footnote in the larger story.)

  7. One silly “continuity”-type error (and I don’t take credit for noticing this, I think Gaiman good-naturedly complains about it in supplemental materials somewhere IIRC) is that we are told that “Destiny casts no shadow” – but on the prior page, we see Destiny casting a shadow.

    (I also like that Dream casts a human shadow “when it occurs to him to do so.” This to me indicates that he is somewhat absent-minded; but courteous enough to try to imitate humans, when he remembers, to avoid freaking them the hell out.)

    • Humans dream, arguably, to help relieve us from consciousness. Being conscious is enormously helpful, biologically and even existentially speaking, but it also requires a great deal of energy, and expenditure of energy is inherently disordering, owing to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

      Dream himself can be seen as the complement of the usual nature of dreaming. He is the consciousness behind dreams, and he gets no respite. He can’t sleep. If he dreams, he does so consciously, never allowing his vast mind to wander freely, as that could destroy aspects of reality (e.g. the minds of dreamers) he feels an obligation to protect. In this way, Dream is an inherently tragic figure; his realm is the opposite of responsibility, and he bears infinite responsibility for maintaining it.

      If he occasionally forgets the little stuff, we have to forgive him.

      • RE: yr second para – I have seen it argued somewhere that each of the Endless also embody, by definition, their opposite or reflection; this is most readily apparent with Death, who actually has an ankh as her sigil.

        But it’s not always clear to me, with the other siblings, in what way they define their converse (naq bs pbhefr, vg’f yngre n ehaavat wbxr ubj onqyl n obgpu gur zvffvat fvoyvat graqf gb znxr bs guvatf jvgu rnpu bs uvf arjsbhaq uboovrf, nf ur nggrzcgf gb npg ntnvafg uvf shapgvba).

        • I hope to get into this more in the next few chapters’ discussions, but my understanding of the Endless doesn’t include the idea that by definition they include their opposites. Death certainly has an affinity for life, but I see that more as a character trait. See, she spends one day of each year living in human form. If she inherently comprised Life as well as Death, it seems to me that exercise would be pointless. No, I think she has trouble understanding life, and has to work at it.

          Despair understands little of hope. What is the opposite of Delirium? Probity? None of that going on with her, I’d say. Now, I’m not saying the idea that each of the Endless contains its opposite is not worth talking about. No, exactly the opposite 😉 It’s great fun to discuss. But, ultimately, it doesn’t fit with my understanding of the meaning of the existence of the Endless.

          For me, the domains of the Endless are the parts of conscious experience that are to some extent beyond the control of those who experience them; the fundamental mysteries of being conscious (here I mean mystery in a quasi-religious sense). The older the Endless, the less control we have in its domain. The various ancient cultures devised gods, demons, heroes, and villains to represent in story and myth their mortal struggles against destiny, death, and the rest; Gaiman’s Endless are the manifestations of those core principles of mystery themselves. Together they control the nexus of all that confounds the conscious mind. I can’t conceive of each of them having a clear opposite, because it seems much clearer to me to see them as opposite to one thing in aggregate: self-determination.

          • Ho. Ly. Crap. Dude.

            You just blew my mind.

            I hope you’ll be taking some of the upcoming writeups, because I want to hear more about this.

          • So Delirium is the youngest because we do have some control over it (in the sense that its effects are typically produced by substances, and we have the capacity to choose whether or not to use them)?

        • The “somewhere” it’s argued is Brief Lives.

          The ages of the Endless are explained in the introduction to Sandman: Book of Dreams, based on something Gaiman once said (and alludes to in several Sandman issues):

          Gur Raqyrff ner fgngrf bs pbafpvbhfarff be njnerarff, naq gurve ntrf cnenyyry gur beqre va juvpu gurl nevfr. Guhf Qrfgval vf svefg, orpnhfr orvat pbafpvbhf zrnaf orvat njner bar rkvfgf; gura Qrngu, orpnhfr gur arkg ernyvmngvba vf gung bar’f rkvfgrapr jvyy raq; naq fb sbegu. Qryvevhz, jub jnf Qryvtug, vf lbhatrfg orpnhfr obgu ner gur raqcbvagf bs pbzvat gb grezf jvgu bhe rkvfgrapr – rvgure gb fvzcyl npprcg gur ernyvgl sbe jungrire rawblzrag vg cebivqrf, be gb ergerng sebz vg.

          • This makes sense. But I do like Boegiboe’s explanation too, and it’s pretty cool that the core concept is thematically rich enough to allow all these different interpretations.

            I guess that’s what happens when one writes a story that doesn’t just include, but is is in part about, symbols.

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