Our assignment was to read the seventh and eighth issues of Season of Mists: Chapter Six and Chapter Lemniscate (Epilogue). Ken 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.

Season of Mists recaps here: Jaybird reviewed the first two in this post. Jason Tank reviewed the next two here. Boegiboe reviewed the next two after that here and here.

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!

Chapter 6: In which the vexing question of the sovereignty of Hell is finally settled, to the satisfaction of some; the finer points of hospitality; and in which it is demonstrated that while some may fall, others are pushed.

It’s the morning after Dream has heard his guests’ pleas, bargains, and threats. The Cluracan wakes his sister, who has spent the night alone. He has not, which is why he’s not too upset at the likely failure of his mission.

Nuala wanders to the main hall, eating her breakfast flowers and overhearing snatches of conversation. Bast confesses to Anubis that she wouldn’t be able to deliver on her promise to Dream. Two unnamed wizardly gentlemen speak of theological, or perhaps political, matters. When Nuala passes the Norse contingent, Loki hits on her, not a wise idea around a very unhappy Thor. (The storm-god’s hangover manifests as a little thundercloud hanging over him.)

She reaches the main hall, where everybody is waiting. “Everybody” is more than the principals we’ve been following; Hell is prime real estate, and many realms have sent emissaries. A Native American, someone in vaguely Roman armor, a dragon-headed being in a tabard, and – just what is that, right behind Loki?

Matthew observes that Dream doesn’t look like he’s slept. “I don’t sleep, Matthew.” (Nice to have that confirmed.) Dream still has no idea what to do with the key.

They’re interrupted by the angels. Remiel relays a message (literally – he has no idea what it is, until the words are coming out of his mouth) from the Creator: Hell is needed as a place for the demons and damned, and as a reflection of Heaven. Without it, Heaven has no meaning, and it must be under the Creator’s control. It will be taken over by – Remiel and Duma?

In a sequence of five panels Remiel loudly and angrily falls while Duma silently and obediently descends. With tears streaming down his face, Duma takes the key. Faced with his example, Remiel agrees to join Duma in Hell.

Back in the main hall, Thor tellth hith joke, the one we’ve all been dreading. Judging from the reaction, Odin has heard it about a billion times and is for once looking forward to the rising of the Midgard Serpent.

Dream enters and says he will not give the key to any of those present. The Cluracan is elated, until the angels appear and explain the arrangement. Hell will go back to what it was, with the two angels overseeing it. “On whose authority?” Anubis asks. “Whose do you think?”

Azazel is enraged, but gloats that the decision will cause Dream great distress. He still has Nada, and because Dream extended him hospitality, Dream can’t touch him. Yes, Dream says, but the hospitality was offered to all his guests, known and unknown, and Nada and Choronzon are also under Dream’s protection.

Azazel challenges Dream to recover the two, and renounces Dream’s hospitality. Dream enters Azazel – who seems to be a pocket dimension, and contains multitudes – and finds both the captives. Azazel sneers that Dream has only become another prisoner himself.

Well. They are in the heart of the Dreaming and the center of Dream’s power, so that works out about as one would expect, and Azazel finds himself inside a small globe in Dream’s hand. He tucks it away in a chest with the Corinthian’s skull and other curious mementoes, and asks if anyone else has a problem with his decision?

Portrait of eleven very powerful beings, momentarily feeling very powerless.

Departures are made. It turns out Dream hasn’t made any new enemies, so maybe Lucifer’s gift hasn’t destroyed him. Order and Chaos are both satisfied with the outcome, for their own reasons. Choronzon and the Merkin are returning to Hell; she asks about Azazel, and Dream assures her that he will be released. Eventually. As the Egyptian gods leave, Dream tells Bast that he respects his brother’s desire for privacy, and she tells him to seek her if he ever changes his mind.

Odin and Thor make their farewells, Odin assuring Dream that he is still welcome in Asgard. Thor has his hand clamped over Loki’s mouth, but Loki briefly breaks free to scream “No! This is wrong–” before Thor knocks him out. The two depart, Thor carrying Loki back to the pit and the snake.

Matthew tells Dream that the fae and “Lord Susan thingie” have asked to stay on for a day. Dream is glad to be rid of the key, but knows the hardest part is still to come. He asks Matthew to tell Nada that he requests her company for dinner, and a talk.

“I don’t want to talk to her, Matthew. I doubt that she wants to talk to me. But still… we will talk.”


Epilogue: In which we bid farewell to absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the Season of Mists, and in which we give the devil his due.

Presumably we all recognize that echo of Hob’s toast from chapter 1.

Remiel stands on a balcony overlooking Hell, talking about the demons and damned returning and planning resumption of normal operations. Duma lies silently on a chaise, the key to Hell around his neck.

In the Dreaming, Dream waits nervously for Nada. As she enters, he changes into Kai’ckul the Dream-Lord, a tall African man, the form he had in Tales in the Sand. Or maybe he doesn’t change, and we are simply seeing him as she does. There follows awkward silence and more awkward conversation.

Eventually Kai’ckul gets around to his apology, which isn’t quite what one might expect from the source of all human imagination and inspiration. Or maybe Gaiman is reminding the readers that he’s not human. Nada’s reaction is very human, and very brave, and ends with a roundhouse slap across the Dream-Lord’s face. He is angry and threatens, and she is defiant and not at all frightened, and suddenly it comes together for him and he manages a real apology. Which Nada accepts.

Dream renews his offer to make her his queen, and she turns him down again. She counters that he could give all this up, and live with her – and we learn that this offer was also made and rejected many centuries ago. So it is time to discuss Nada’s future.

Lord Susano-o-no-Mikoto is leaving the palace, and if he weren’t a dignified Japanese storm-god you’d think he was trying to sneak out. It doesn’t work, of course, and Dream confronts him. Oh, my, he isn’t a dignified Japanese storm-god, he’s Loki, who swapped places with Lord Susano during Dream’s fight with Azazel. Dream doesn’t really care if Loki goes free, but doesn’t want Susano suffering in his place. A bargain is made: Dream will replace Susano with a dream image, and Loki will be in Dream’s debt.

The Clurucan and Nuala are preparing to leave when Dream arrives to make farewells. Or rather, the Clurucan is preparing to leave, for – as he kind of forgot to mention until this very moment – Nuala will be staying, as Queen Titania’s gift to Dream. Were Dream to reject the gift, the burden of Titania’s anger would fall on Nuala. So, though neither of them want it, Nuala will be staying; but Dream removes her glamour of beauty, revealing her natural form.

Nada enters, having chosen the second option Dream offered – we are not told the first, or if there were others. She is surprised to find that she is not afraid, and asks if he will remember her. Yes, he says. But will she know that? No, but he will know.

In Hong Kong, a hospital, labor, a birth, and a baby in a bassinet. Dream picks up the child, addressing it as Nada, and renews his promises that he will always remember her, and that she will always be welcome in the Dreaming.

In Australia, a man is looking at the sunset, when an older man approaches. They chat, and the lettering style confirms that the first man is Lucifer. The other man has outlived his wife and children and had a hard life; but he too comes to look at the sunset, because “any God that can do sunsets like that, well, you’ve got to respect the old bastard, haven’t you?” The old man wanders off, and Lucifer acknowledges that he has a point about the sunsets.

Back to Hell, where Remiel is excessively enthusiastic about the job before them. He flies out over the fields of pain, and spotting a demon whipping a man and enjoying the screams, intervenes. No, he corrects. The torture will continue, but its purpose isn’t pain. It is for redemption. It is for love. He flies away, and so misses the victim’s anguished cry, “That makes it worse.”

And then Season of Mists ends, and Gaiman plays with the form by ending it three times, each a comment on   what else?   stories ending.

First, we have narration of Remiel’s thoughts as he rejoices that things have ended happily ever after. In Hell.

Then, back to Destiny’s garden where all this started, as he reads Remiel’s final thoughts in his book, then closes it.

And finally, a quote from G.K. Chesteron’s The Man Who Was October, a book which can only be found on the shelves of the library of dreams, on how difficult it can be to bring a tale to an end, and how simple it is to bring it to a happy ending.


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. It turns out Dream hasn’t made any new enemies, so maybe Lucifer’s gift hasn’t destroyed him.

    Vg vf orpnhfr bs gur pbairefngvbaf vafcverq ol guvf tvsg gung Qernz jrag naq gnyxrq gb Onfg nobhg gur ybpngvba bs Gur Cebqvtny. Gurer’f n punenpgre va gur Yhpvsre pbzvp obbx gung fnlf “Jura gur Qrivy jnagf lbh gb qb fbzrguvat, ur qbrfa’g yvr ng nyy. Ur gryyf lbh gur rknpg, yvgreny gehgu. Naq ur yrgf lbh svaq lbhe bja jnl gb Uryy.”

    Qernz tbrf naq gnyxf gb Onfg naq hfrf gur vasbezngvba gung fur tvirf uvz ba uvf jnl gb or qrfgeblrq.

    Ur qbrf vg nf vs ur guvaxf gung ur’f qbvat vg bs uvf bja ibyvgvba… ohg vg jnf gur Xrl gung frg rirelguvat va zbgvba.

    • “The exact, literal truth.”

      There’s a great Spoon lyric to the effect of “I sometimes tell the truth, it’s the best way out/it’s the wrong words, that make you prick up your ears, when later alone.” Deception by truth-telling.

    • Spoilers Ahoy, do not read if you have not finished the series:

      Bar bs gur guvatf gung vf punatvat sbe zr ba guvf er-ernq vf zl creprcgvba bs jul Qernz’f qrngu bpphef – V unir nyjnlf frra vg nf n “ur pna’g punatr, ohg ur ybatf sbe eryrnfr”. Gur qrterr gb juvpu ur pbafpvbhfyl pubbfrf be ratvarref uvf hygvzngr sngr/eryrnfr vf qrongnoyr.

      Ohg ba guvf er-ernq, V nz fgnegvat gb guvax gung vg vf va cneg uvf rssbegf GB punatr, gb vzcebir, gb orpbzr zber pbzcnffvbangr naq zber uhzna, juvpu fcryy uvf qbbz.

      Lbh abgr gur tvsg bs gur xrl nf gur svefg fgrc gbjneqf vg – ohg ernyyl, ur gbbx gur svefg fgrc jura ur pubfr gb tb gb Uryy gb erfphr Anqn – gung’f ubj ur raqf hc jvgu gur xrl.

      Naq fbba ur jvyy oernx bgure ehyrf, be tb ntnvafg jung ur xabjf gb or orfg, va gur anzr bs xvaqarff naq zrepl. Naq gurfr rssbegf gb or xvaqre raq hc frnyvat uvf sngr.

      • A very insightful comment Glyph.

        Vg erfbangrf jvgu zr orpnhfr gb or pbzcnffvbangr vf abg va Qernz’f angher. Qernz vfa’g nobhg tbbq be rivy be pbzcnffvba be znyvpr, ohg vzntvangvba naq vafcvengvba. Jurgure gur qernzf ner ornhgvshy be greevoyr vf zrnavatyrff gb uvf Shapgvba.

        Orpnhfr gung’f gur guvat nobhg gur Raqyrff, nyy gung znggref vf gurve shapgvba. Nf Qernz fgrcf njnl sebz uvf, vg orpbzrf uvf haqbvat. V guvax Qrfgehpgvba (naq cbffvoyl Qryvtug / Qryrevhz) unf gurve bja irefvbaf bs guvf pevfvf va gur cnfg, ohg qrnyg jvgu vg ol syrrvat naq punatvat erfcrpgviryl. Ohg Qernz tnmrq ybat vagb gur nolff – naq qvirq va.

        V svaq guvf na vagrerfgvat pbagenfg jvgu Greel Cengpurgg’f Qrngu jub, yvxr Qernz, orpbzrf pybfre gb uhznavgl, rira ng gur rkcrafr bs uvf Shapgvba. Ohg vg jbexf bhg orggre sbe gur nyy-pnccrq bar, ur frrzf gb tnva n orggre nccerpvngvba sbe uvf Shapgvba orpnhfr bs vg.

      • Yrg hf abg sbetrg gung Qernz qbrf znxr na rarzl urer. Vebavpnyyl vg’f Ybxv, gur bar ur jnf nethnoyl gur zbfg xvaq gb, jub tbrf ba gb pnzcnvta qverpgyl ntnvafg Qernz orpnhfr ur pnaabg fgnaq orvat vaqrogrq gb Qernz.

        • In freeing Susano (and not putting Loki back in his place), we see again Dream’s newfound dislike of imprisonment – he promises to even eventually free Azazel, who tried to kill him.

          Again, Spoilers Ahoy for much later events:

          Qernz xabjf jub/jung Ybxv vf jura ur serrf uvz naq vaqrogf uvz.

          Rirel Puevfg arrqf uvf Whqnf.

      • Shegurezber, vg vf qhevat guvf rcvfbqr gung Qernz rneaf Ybxv’f tengvghqr, juvpu vf n pvephzfgnapr gur ynggre pnaabg novqr. Creirefryl, vg pnhfrf uvz gb npgviryl cybg gb uheg Qernz, naq gb pbafcver jvgu Chpx gb xvqanc Qnavry. Fb guvf vf nabgure jnl va juvpu gur Xrl fgnegf guvatf va zbgvba gung yrnq gb Qernz’f qrzvfr.

    • Chggvat Ybxv va lbhe qrog vf gur rnfvrfg jnl gb znxr uvz lbhe rarzl, gubhtu….

  2. Our assignment was to read the third and fourth issues of Season of Mists: Chapter Five and Chapter Lemniscate (Epilogue)

    Followed by a review of Chapter 6. And don’t we usually do these on Thursday? I’m so confused..

    • Fixed.

      (I used to post Wednesday posts on Tuesday nights and I still post Weekend posts on Thursday night. Best to have it poised for the morn, that’s how I look at it.)

    • It was while recapping this that I noticed the interpages were Episode 0, Episode 1, … Episode 6, and Episode lemniscate; but in the panels they were Prolog, Chapter 1, … Chapter 6, Epilog. I found that obscurely annoying.

  3. Getting a closer look at faceless guy, he’s definitely not the Question, or anyone else I recognize. But his continued presence makes me think he’s a cameo from some obscure corner of the DC canon.

    Despite the conversation about the Greek gods not having a representative, armor-and-helmet guy looks a whole lot like the way Ares was depicted in Wonder-Woman comics at the time.

    I think the guy behind Loki is someone wearing one of those long aboriginal masks and a fur cloak.

  4. Is there a name (probably German) for the delicious, ambiguous emotion that one gets when Gaiman closes out this story? That “happily ever after…in hell.” gave me chills the first time I read it.

    Hell has been returned to status quo – but no, not exactly. It IS so much worse.

    And the image of Lucifer, on a beach, conversing with a salt of the earth type (who speculates on Lucifer’s sexual orientation) before grudgingly relaxing and giving the Almighty some credit for the sunsets, is just wonderful.

  5. Ken –
    I have to admit that I thought Jaybird wrote this. I even complimented him effusively on the line “Judging from the reaction, Odin has heard it about a billion times and is for once looking forward to the rising of the Midgard Serpent,” which made me bark aloud with laughter.

    I am quite embarrassed by the error, but coming from *me*, there really isn’t any higher praise – so I thought I would share my mistake. 🙂

    Great recap!

      • Thanks! I’d be glad to do more. It’s A Game of You next, right?

        • Yes. (After a week off, of course, allowing people to make their purchases and still have them show up in time if they choose free shipping.)

  6. I especially, again, loved the reactions of the representatives of Order and Chaos. So appropriate. Chaos of course can’t sustain the consistency necessary to remain angry or campaign for revenge over Dreams decision (nor likely could it sustain sufficient desire for possession of Hell in the first place). Order, of course, cannot denounce Dreams decision for it was arrived at rationally and is an orderly acquiescence to the instructions of Dreams presumed boss the ultimate ordering force of the universe. It would be an anathema for Order to expect Dream to choose otherwise in such a circumstance.

    • It’s too bad we didn’t get to see Jemmy/Chaos interact with Delerium, and Kilderkin/Order with Destiny. I imagine they’d get along famously.

      • I could read whole comic books of Jemmy/Delerium just gamboling along through the world doing wierd stuff.

      • Kilderkin with Destiny, on the other hand, would be mind blowingly boring. A somber exchange of approvals at each’s respective rational orderly purpose and perhaps an offer of services from Kilderkin to store any of Destiny’s knick knacks followed by companionable silence.

        • I imagine a clock ticking, loudly, accompanied by the occasional clink of a teacup onto a saucer.

          • I was thinking the same. I do not think there would be much for them to say to one another.

  7. And finally, a quote from G.K. Chesteron’s The Man Who Was October, a book which can only be found on the shelves of the library of dreams, on how difficult it can be to bring a tale to an end

    Fuckin endings, man, they weren’t as easy as they looked.

  8. It’s interesting to ponder the place of a monotheistic deity amongst these proceedings. Dream’s deference to the Creator, it seems to me, comes not from the Creator being al-powerful, but from Lucifer’s Hell being part of the Creator’s domain. Which suggests that the God Known as the Creator didn’t create the Universe. But, seeing how awed Loki is by the angels, I would guess Yahweh did maybe create Earth.

    But Dream is above all the gods, as are the rest of the Endless. The gods are merely immortal versions of mortal stereotypes. The Endless are the uncaring Universe’s response to free-willed individuals demanding faces to rail against. Or that’s my theory of the month, anyway.

    • I think Loki (and even Dream) also defer to Yahweh based on Yahweh’s current popularity. Assuming arguendo that Yahweh and Allah are one and the same (no religion!), then He commands a huge number of followers in the modern world, and receives a large percentage of the world’s worship via all the Abrahamic faiths.

      In Gaiman’s cosmology, the more remembered and revered a god is, the more powerful he is, so presumably Yahweh is “hot”, while the Norse and Egyptian pantheons have fallen on hard times and gone to seed.

      So irrespective of the “truth” of who created who/what, Yahweh would command respect and immense power in this current incarnation of consensus reality.

      • I think the Creator might be outside of the pantheons. He is something other than the gods. The gods are created by the beliefs of man, but the Creator is not.

        • Oooh, this is possible. Gaiman does make it a point to tell us that The Silver City is The Silver City, not “Heaven”.

          • They come out and say that Lucifer is pretty much the 2nd most powerful entity that exists. His power seems to me to be pretty independent of anything.

            And if the power of Lucifer is independent, I reckon that the Creator’s power is also. Perhaps even more so.

          • Well, but I have to stick up for my theory here.

            Remember that “Dream of a Thousand Cats” says that if enough people (or cats) believe X is the way the world works, and has always worked, then X is so, and will always have been so.

            Wikipedia estimates that Christians and Muslims have a simple majority in the world already (56%). And that figure doesn’t count the Jews or the Mormons; presumably this would push the number higher towards the common conception of Yahweh/Allah as Creator.

            So in *this world*, Yahweh/Allah IS The Creator, and always has been. And Lucifer is the most 2nd powerful being, because The Creator created him to be so. Because that IS the story, at least currently, as voted on by watchers of “The World’s Most Popular Religion.”

            If/when those numbers shift again, so will the cosmology of the universe, retroactively; and maybe no one, save possibly The Endless, will even notice, because The Cosmic Turtle will be the way it has always been.

          • Ah, but refusing is what Lucifer DOES. It’s what he IS.

            He’s supposed to run Hell.

            He refuses, and abandons his “post”.

            That’s why he’s the Fallen, you see. This cosmology needs the rebel who won’t do as he’s told (who is of course aware of this, and frustrated that even his rebellion or shirking can never TRULY be either; for whatever he does, he was always meant to do).

            Lucifer is a tragic figure; for no matter how free he acts, or wants to be, he knows he can never be free; he will always be a cog, his actions never REALLY his own.

            His great power and intellect serve only to let him know (or suspect, or fear) that he must always be #2; always the acted-upon, never the actor.

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