One might think that the climax of the 10-volume Sandman series would come in the last book, or even the second to last. But indeed the heart and soul of Neil Gaiman's magnum opus lies here in Brief Lives
. It could be because one of the most central mysteries--that of the Sandman's missing brother--is revealed here (in fact, the plot of this volume is the search for this member of the Endless). It could be because everything that comes after this volume, however surprising or unexpected, is inevitable. But it's more because this is a story about mortality and loss, the difficulty of change, the purpose of remembering, the purpose of forgetting, and the importance of humanity. If you have wanted to find out what all the good buzz on this great comic book series is about and haven't read any Gaiman before, don't be turned off by this volume's pivotal position in the larger story of the Sandman series. This book might actually operate better as a stand-alone story, in that its depth and compassion are more condensed, pure, and brief. --Jim Pascoe
From Publishers Weekly
Gaiman's very popular Sandman series (this is the eighth book in the series) continues with another tale of the Endless, the family of mythic cosmic beings that govern the psychic and physical realms of Dream, Desire, Despair, Destiny, Delirium, Destruction and Death. Morpheus, Lord of Dreams and the central figure in the series, is asked by his sister, the unstable and touchingly demented Delirium, to help locate their brother Destruction. Destruction abandoned his duties 300 years ago (about the time of the Enlightenmentnt), dropping out of sight after a prescient and despairing glimpse of the rise of human reason and its own destructive proclivities. The grimly ironic Morpheus and his whimsically erratic sister travel among the mortals of earth in search of their brother and ultimately learn something of Destruction's reasons for abdicating. Gaiman's works often follow the plots of classical and mythical narratives and Brief Lives, like his other works, can often look and sound as ponderous as a bad period costume movie. But his works are also driven by sharply drawn characters and his knack for capturing the patterns of intimacy, even in an otherworldly setting, can be affecting. Thompson and Locke contribute subtle and vividly colored drawings, rendered in an awkward but agile line.
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