Tonight, Jason Tank and James K close off The Wake and the Epilogue, respectively.

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 Calliope 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. Ken reviewed the final two here.

A Game of You recaps here: Mike Schilling reviewed the first two in this post. Jason Tank and Mike Schilling tackled the next two issues here. Russell Saunders gave us the last two issues here.

Fables and Reflections recaps here: Ken and Jaybird reviewed the preview plus the first two issues here. Mike Schilling and Jaybird did the next two issues here. KatherineMW did the next issue here. Glyph, Ken, and Russell did the Sandman Special issues here.

Brief Lives recaps here: Jason Tank recapped Chapter 1 and Mike Schilling recapped Chapter 2 here. Reformed Republican recapped Chapter 3 and Jaybird recapped Chapter 4 here. Mike Schilling recapped Chapter 5 and Glyph recapped Chapter 6 here. Mike Schilling recapped Chapter 7 and Glyph recapped Chapter 8 here.

World’s End issues #51 (A Tale of Two Cities) and #52 (Cluracan’s Tale) reviewed here by Jason Tank and James K. Issues #53 (Hob’s Leviathan) and #54 (The Golden Boy) reviewed here by KatherineMW and Reformed Republican. Ken reviewed Issues #55 (Cerements) and #56 (“World’s End”) here.

The Kindly Ones recaps here: Mike Schilling recapped the Prologue to and Part One here. Glyph and Jaybird recapped parts two and three, respectively, here. Jason Tank recapped parts four and five here. Mike Schilling recapped issues six and seven here. Jaybird and Jason Tank tackled issues eight and nine here. Jaybird recapped ten and eleven here. Mike recapped twelve and thirteen here.

The Wake recaps here: Mike Schilling recapped Chapters One and Two here.

It’s very difficult to discuss this book without discussing the next one (or the one after that, or the one after that (if there were one after that, anyway.)) 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 below!


Chapter 3, In Which We Wake

The artwork here is grand and epic. There is a lot to take in.

The mausoleum opens and everyone files in, quietly and efficiently, in the way that if they were drivers on a highway, traffic would never happen. Everyone gets where they’re going and there’s never any snarls. A city-planner’s dream.

The place is made of cold gray stone, and adorned with black roses and a few more colorful flowers. Members of the family deliver their eulogies from the flowers in front of the wooden podium. Everyone else delivers their from the podium itself.

Elbis lays out the cerement, and Morpheus’s phantom form appears beneath it.

Destiny speaks first. We are here to remember Morpheus. And eventually, to forget him. Desire snarks, and Delirium angrily tells him/her to shut up. In the audience, Mad Hetty and Hob notice each other. As members of the old-old-old-age club, they obvious know each other.

Dream is at his front gate, scratching the griffon and making it purr. (Lions are the only great cats who can purr!) The hippogriff remarks that Morpheus never touched them. This Dream is warmer, different. And he has a familiar visitor….

Back at the wake, Bast regrets the things she left unsaid, the kind words she could have shared. Rose and Jed talk about her pregnancy. Families both rock and suck? I hear ya, Jed.

Desire’s speech canned be summed up this way: S/he didn’t like him.

Destruction asks for food, and Dream serves him. After a bit, Dream begins to recognize him. Destruction has come to give some advice.

Despair’s speech is told from italics inside the narration boxes. The implication is that what she’s saying is too full of her emotion for us to hear directly. It’s having a profound, unsettling effect on the audience. But she offers this: she will always remember Morpheus, even if we must, ultimately, forget him.

The next speaker is Wesley Dodds, the Golden Age Sandman, who donned a mask and a gas gun during Morpheus’s imprisonment and fought crime. He is folowed by Duma, who sheds a single tear that manages to say more than any words. (Remiel, it should be noted, never shows up.)

It’s Delirium’s turn to talk. Plastic flamingos and butterflies show up in the flowers for her, which is appropriate for her, but not as perfectly appropriate as the plastic Cthulhu. Delirium worries about what she could say, but settles on the simplest: Morpheus scared her. But not anymore. Now she’s just sad.

Destruction repeats to Dream what he told Morpheus: you can get up and leave, and all the Dreaming will go on as normal. Also: it’s amazing what trouble you can get into (and out of) if you assume everything will work out for the best. Dream thanks him for the advice, agreeing not to tell the others he visited, and Destruction is off again.

It’s Matthew’s turn to speak, and I love his entire speech. I don’t even want to summarize it. It is what it is. (Isn’t it funny how one of the most human, relatable characters in the whole book is a talking raven?)

During Matthew’s speech, we see Lucifer and Mazikeen watching. (Another strike against Remiel.) There’s also an inset of a boat in a canal. Its prow is shaped like a bird’s head.

At the top of the next page, the cerement wraps itself into a mummy-like form. A bear gives a eulogy (the Alderman, perhaps?) Odin. Chaos. Order. The bleeding lady. They all get a chance to speak. Everyone does. Even me. Even you.

The mausoleum transforms, and we’re now on a bridge above that canal. The cerement/body is on the boat, surrounded by black roses. Death is the last to speak, and the narration boxes summarize whatever it was she told us.

The next series of pictures is beautiful and cinematic. The boat passes into marshes, and a young child tosses more roses at it. (If this corresponds to a myth or funerary rite, I am unaware of it.) The bird’s head turns into Dream’s helmet, and the marshes give way to a deep, starry sky. The prow changes into Morpheus’s head. The boat passes by a pier, where Orpheus stands holding a silent lyre, his head bowed. There are three dead forms in the water. (Mother, maiden and crone? I do not know.) The boat separates from its contents, but the prow remains, a pair of hands clasping the ruby dreamstone. The boat, bird-shaped again (or was it always this form, and all the other forms, at the same time?) falls off the water into the sky, crackles with light, and dissapears.

The Corinthian asks what comes next. In the background is sad old Doctor Dee. Lyta seems to be hiding from the others behind a tree, but Dream brings her to him in an instant. She recognizes Daniel, but Dream does not claim that name. He tells her he can punish (and Nada could tell her the same). He tells her that the man who killed the first Despair is still in pain, and will be until eternity ends. But instead, he kisses her, leaving her a mark (not unlike Cain’s, I imagine) that will allow her to go forth unharmed and rebuild her life.

Matthew returns to Dream, and tells him he can’t be his raven anymore. But he will stay on as an advisor, of a sort.

Dream comes across Alex Burgess, still an innocent child in his dreams. He sends Alex home. Paul has come back from a funeral, and confirms for us that the suicidal gay solicitor was indeed Rose’s Jack. (There’s a One Jack Limit, after all.)

We see several more wake up: Nuala, Lyta and Richard seem happy. Hob is actually crying. Meanwhile, the five remaining Endless wait for the new Dream to meet them. Despair knows how scared he must be. Desire is as anti-Dream as ever. Delirium tries to eat a decoration. Matthew gives us that old English saying that best fits the situation: the king is dead; long live the king.

And you, at the last, wake up.


An Epilogue, Sunday Mourning

The wake is over. Dream is dead, long live Dream. But Dream’s death, like all deaths, has a lingering effect on those who knew him. And none more so (save perhaps the Endless themselves) than Dream’s closest friend Hob Gadling (not that he has a lot of competition).

Like many character pieces, Sunday Mourning is a simple story. Hob (now named Robbie) visits a Ren Faire at the insistence of his girlfriend (Gwen) who is really into it. Hob is not into it. He sneaks off and meets Death. He talks with her about loss and regret, and then decides whether he wants to carry on after the death of the being that made him immortal on a whim.

So rather than focus on the plot, let’s talk about the feelings Hob goes through during this story:

  • Anti-Nostalgia: Hob is more than a little put out at seeing what amounts to a theme park version of his life. We know from previous stories that Hob’s long personal history has left him with an appreciation for progress, so this glamorisation of a far more primitive time strikes him as perverse (he’s probably more of a Monty Python and the Holy Grail fan). This reminds the reader that when Hob thinks fondly on some of his past (like his friendship with Dream, or his reminiscences while talking to the bookbinder), it’s because of a real affection, not just nostalgia goggles.
  • Guilt: Guilt is a major part of Sunday Mourning. Hob’s long life has left him with many things to feel guilty about, his participation in the slave trade most particularly. Gwen has little time for his guilt on the subject, arguing that it’s something best left in the past, and it’s too big to be attributed to the moral turpitude of a few people. Of course she doesn’t know that he has reason to be personally, and not merely vicariously, guilty about slavery. This guilt along with Dream’s death feeds into the funk he finds himself in for the majority of the story.
  • Hope: The central theme of Sunday Mourning is the affirmation of life in the face of death (and Death). Once again Hob is given the choice – go with Death of the Endless or continue a life that is endless. And despite his guilt and his sadness, he chooses life, as he has done before. Because his cynicism for the past is tied to an idealism – he knows how bad thing used to be and so appreciates the progress that has been made.
  • Rebirth: Sunday Mourning is an epilogue to Sandman, but is in some sense a prologue to a story not written (perhaps it is sitting on a shelf in Lucian’s library somewhere), about the new Dream and the life he leads. Because even when a life ends, life goes on.
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9 thoughts on “Somniloquy!

  1. Not much to say, other than I think these issues are beautifully written and drawn. If ever a story had the right to end on the cliche “and then you woke up” it’s this one; that line lands, hard.

    The fact that Remiel doesn’t attend the funeral is interesting.

    Glad Hob turns Death down, though the symmetry of him going out in a broken-down imitation medieval pub, like the one in which he was granted his long life by her brother, would have been striking. The whole issue really works for me, the mix of comedy (Hob getting very, very, VERY drunk and bitching about RenFest) and bleakness (Hob’s memories of transporting/dumping slaves; remembering all the people he’s known that are gone; his speech about death visiting little by little) but ending with hope (and in all likelihood a magnificent hangover).

    Damn but these are good. So glad that Gaiman took the time (and that the publishers didn’t mind him doing so) to draw out all these little grace notes from the finale, after the story’s “hero” is gone.

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  2. 1) I believe the young child who casts flowers at the boat is the reincarnated form of Nada. (I believe it is his dream Morpheus checks on during a much earlier issue when we see how he spends his week.) IIRC, Nada is reborn as a boy in Hong Kong.

    2) My one major qualm with anything in the entire Sandman run is the way the sleepers are depicted as they wake. Specifically, I strongly object to the way Richard Madoc is portrayed. There is, to my eyes, a sense of forgiveness or release for Nuala et al/ As it says in the recap above, Richard seems happy. And while I grok the whole idea that Morpheus’s demise conferred a kind of release, I have a real problem with Madoc being portrayed as somehow “forgiven.”

    Why? Because his crime wasn’t against Morpheus. Morpheus was the one who exacted punishment, it’s true, but unlike with Alex Burgess he wasn’t the victim. The victim was Calliope, and unless there was some scene we miss where Madoc seeks and is granted forgiveness from her, then I do not believe it is tonally appropriate to equate Morpheus’s death with a moment of redemption for him.

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    • While I totally see the point you are making, I want to head into the weeds for a moment. This may be a bad convo for Mindless Diversions; if it spins out of control I am happy to drop it.

      And before we get into it, the kidnapping and repeated rape of anyone is very, very, very bad (and also, a dumb idea, especially if the victim happens to be the Muse ex-wife of a very powerful immortal being).

      But for Madoc’s punishment, he essentially had his mind sandblasted clean by Morpheus. All those ideas (and – yeesh – the FINGERS – he STILL wears gloves), followed by, presumably, a near catatonia/depressive state. For nearly the series’ entire run. What’s that, five or so years in “real” time to Madoc?

      If we could inject a convicted rapist with a drug that would drive him temporarily, violently, insane, in the process causing him permanent disfiguring injury, followed by 5 years of catatonic institutionalization – wouldn’t that seem like “enough” punishment? Might he not smile upon his release from such a “Clockwork Orange” type rehabilitation, regardless of whether the victim had forgiven him or not?

      Has he “paid” for his crime?

      Like I said, I know that’s the weeds, and what “justice” we find acceptable IRL is decidedly different from what we want from our drama (which is basically eternal damnation. Burn in hell, Madoc!). What if we could have done this to that Castro weirdo in Ohio who had been keeping those girls in his house? Would such a punishment have been overkill; and if so, mightn’t he smile when it ended?

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      • Put another way, we’ve seen often in this series that sometimes the good die young and the bad go free (the Cuckoo, Dr. Dee).

        Hell, Hob was at minimum indirectly (and possibly directly) complicit in the murder of dozens or hundreds of slaves. Those slaves didn’t forgive him (Gwen doesn’t count, she wasn’t there, nor does she know that he was); yet we’re happy that he gets to go on with his life; his only punishment was his own guilt and memories.

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      • Yeah, I would say that Madoc’s punishment came at the hands of Morpheus. When Morpheus died, the punishment ended.

        Did he deserve worse? Of course. But who would enact it?

        What is no-longer-Daniel’s relationship to Calliope? We saw that Morpheus tended to only hand out punishments to protect The Dreaming or, in some cases, if he felt things very, very strongly… is that Morpheus’s bag or does it come with the necklace?

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      • I am not saying either that I do not understand that the logic within the story dictates that Madoc’s punishment would end with Morpheus’s death or that I would want him consigned to madness and agony for eternity.

        I object to the tone of how his waking is depicted. I object to his seeming not only free, but happy. It reads to me like he has been forgiven. Again, I note that the recap describes him as “happy.” I think that is an editorial misstep. Show him being released, that’s A-OK and in keeping with the story. But happy? In the absence of Calliope herself granting her forgiveness for the crime committed against her person, I object to that.

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      • Coming after Dream leaving his mark on Lyta, I think the message is that punishment is fine, but vengeance has no end. Erasmus Fry, the guy who originally captured Calliope and promised to free her, died without even punishment. Richard Madoc, who got himself in trouble trying to end his writer’s block by being given a ‘gift’ he shouldn’t have accepted, has less to ‘answer’ for, but suffered vengeance for it. If you go back and look, Calliope herself told Morpheus to release Richard from the torrent of ideas. (It was his unspoken choice to withhold all ideas from him thereafter.) Calliope, for her part, had no desire for vengeance.

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  3. Catherine of Aragon was auburn-haired, blue-eyed, and fair-skinned, unsurprisingly for someone who was largely German on both her father’s and mother’s sides.

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