From Publishers Weekly
Now that he's a bestselling fantasy novelist, Gaiman returns to the comics series that made his reputation with this new volume of seven gorgeously illustrated stories. Gaiman specializes in inventing fantastic allegories for the quotidian, in a voice that casually shifts between uneasy realism and Borgesian grandeur. In Sandman cosmology, "The Endless" are seven immortal siblings who personify abstract concepts: Dream, Death, Destiny and so on. This work devotes a story to each of them, drawn in distinctly different styles by an all-star lineup of American, British and European cartoonists and fine artists. Gaiman is famous for writing to his artists' strengths, and he does so here. P. Craig Russell draws the surreal fantasia "Death and Venice" with the opulent brio of his opera adaptations. "What I've Tasted of Desire" is a darkly sexual fable, painted by Milo Manara in the style of his more X-rated work. A couple of the stories find Gaiman working in a more experimental mode than usual, notably "Fifteen Portraits of Despair," a set of anecdotes and prose poems accompanied by Barron Storey's tormented, abstract drawings and paintings. Longtime comics fans will notice plenty of inside jokes in "The Heart of a Star," but most of this book is a red carpet-or perhaps a Persian rug-rolled out for Gaiman's prose readers to see his visions turned into lush, dramatic images.
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When Gaiman ended his phenomenally popular comic-book series The Sandman in 1996, he promised to eventually revisit the characters. Now he keeps that promise, with results that are everything his fans could have hoped for. The series centered on the brooding title character, also known as Dream, who rules over the realm humans visit when they sleep, and also dealt with his godlike siblings Death, Desire, Despair, Delirium, Destruction, and Destiny, collectively known as the Endless. In this book, each of them is the focus of a separate story, illustrated by one of an array of world-class comics artists whose approaches range from the relative straightforwardness of P. Craig Russell (see Isolation and Illusion
[BKL Ap 15 03]) to the wildly disturbing work of Barron Storey. The stories themselves vary, too, from accounts of mortals' encounters with the Endless to depictions of those demigods' lofty existence. Gaiman's eagerly awaited return to his most successful creation shows his mastery of the characters and their world to be intact, and if these shorter stories don't allow for the complexity of the original series, they still demonstrate the brilliance of his concept and the elegance of his storytelling. Gordon FlaggCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved