Jul 1, 2012

Brief Lives

The Sandman
by Neil Gaiman

I quite liked this seventh volume of Sandman. Unlike many of the other volumes I've read, it doesn't have stand-alone stories but one continual narrative. Another plus is that it focuses on the character of Dream and his siblings, rather than having Dream as a minor (but often very key) character who comes in near the end of a story. The broad sweep of it is that Dream's younger sister Delirium has decided to seek out their brother Destruction, who abandoned his realm and went missing hundreds of years ago. First Delirium asks for help from Despair and Desire, then she approaches Dream. Rather unlike him, he agrees to go on a journey through the waking world to aid her search. But it turns out he has his own motives, and doesn't really want to find his brother at all. He gets tired of the search and wants to call it off; she gets upset and sulks; Dream is convinced to make amends, and when they finally do find Destruction he comes to terms with facing his son Orpheus as well....

Maybe most of that doesn't make sense, I fear. Well, what I liked about it was Delirium. I think she's my favorite character. She talks in a random half-steam-of-consciousness way and acts like a child bouncing from one idea to the next and it's charming rather than irritating (to me). You'd think this would make their search end prematurely but surprisingly she sticks to her goal and doesn't forget why they're searching. Quite often the things she says make connections that illuminate problems or solutions. There's a subtle mystery as to why all the people Dream and Delirium seek (their brother's friends) in their journey disappear or die before they can reach them- a fact that makes Dream want to abandon the whole endeavor. A lot of the themes in this book have to do with change, resisting or accepting it or adjusting to it.... I'm afraid I'm not making this very coherent, probably due to being tired. I'll just say again that liked it, better than the last few volumes. I liked the characters more than ever. Read some of the other reviews listed below for better analysis.

rating: 3/5 ......... 168 pages, 1992

more opinions:
Incurable Bluestocking
Mark Reads the Sandman 
University City Public Library Book Challenge


Biblibio said...

Brief Lives is essentially where the overall narrative of the Sandman starts to come together. While World's End is another breach into storyland (but also my favorite book in the series for a number of different reasons, mostly revolving around its implications when rereading the series...), it fits very nicely between the continual story of Brief Lives and the excellent The Kindly Ones.

And yes, Delirium is absolutely an amazing character.

Jeane said...

I am finding that the series gets better and better as I go along, so eager to read the last few and then maybe launch into the stand-alones that seem to focus on the Morpheus' sister, Death.