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The Sandman Vol. 6: Fables & Reflections (1993)

by Neil Gaiman, Mark Buckingham (Illustrator), Duncan Eagleson (Illustrator), Dick Giordani (Illustrator), Vince Locke (Illustrator)7 more, Shawn McManus (Illustrator), P Craig Russell (Illustrator), Bryan Talbot (Illustrator), Jill Thompson (Illustrator), John Watkiss (Illustrator), Kent Williams (Illustrator), Stan Woch (Illustrator)

Other authors: Lovern Kindzierski (Colorist), Todd Klein (Letterer), Sherilyn van Valkenburgh (Colorist), Daniel Vozzo (Colorist), Gene Wolfe (Introduction)

Series: The Sandman (6)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,003521,498 (4.34)84
From #1 New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman! The Sandman Vol. 6: Fables & Reflections 30th Anniversary Edition follows the Lord of the Dreaming on a winding journey through time and space as he touches the lives of nine remarkable dreamers. In these haunting tales, kings and spies, emperors and actors, ravens and werewolves all share their secret stories--dreams of life and love, power and darkness. One of the most popular and critically acclaimed graphic novels of all time, Neil Gaiman's award-winning masterpiece The Sandman set the standard for mature, lyrical fantasy in the modern comics era. Illustrated by an exemplary selection of the medium's most gifted artists, the series is a rich blend of modern and ancient mythology in which contemporary fiction, historical drama and legend are seamlessly interwoven. Collects The Sandman #29-31, #38-40, #50, Sandman Special #1 and Vertigo Preview #1.… (more)
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SYNOPSIS | This second volume of stand-alone stories ranges far afield, some featuring familiar characters and others brand new. As in the last, individual tales hone in on one or another aspect of the Dreaming or Morpheus's role in it. This time: eight tales rather than four, plus an extended backstory (a retelling of the Orpheus myth). Morpheus appears more frequently in these stories than in those from Volume 3.

IN THIS VOLUME
From the Endless: Dream | Despair | Delirium (nee Delight) | Desire | Death | Destiny | Destruction (first appearance in the series)
From Dreamtime / Supernatural: Orpheus (Greek myth) | Caius (Roman Legend) | Eve, Matthew, Cain & Abel, Goldie (Dreaming) | Baba Yaga (Slavic folklore) | Three-In-One given cameos with no speaking lines
From DC: Johanna Constantine | cameos by Hippolyte (Lyta) and her toddler son, Daniel

//

The selection underscores the importance of story itself to the Sandman opus. Gaiman frequently has his characters tell stories to one another, like Chaucer. The theme links to the idea of Morpheus himself, whose rules and meaning come from story.

Other themes:
Rules -- what they permit, as much as what they restrict.
Mystery -- what it does when its secret remains hidden, and when its secret is revealed. (And that cycle is, precisely, story.)

//

I wonder at the decision to re-sequencing these stories, e.g. "Thermidor" appears before "Orpheus", so the significance of the talking head is unclear to the reader, not knowing who Orpheus is, or having read why he was beheaded, nor even how it is this head retains ability to talk. It appears not to follow publication date, and if it follows some internal chronology that's unclear to me.

Fear of Falling
Behind the scenes, dream and story entwined.

Three-In-One glimpsed in the panels depicting Todd's dream.

Introduction by Gene Wolfe
Notable for listing the Endless by their Greek names, helpfully pointing out the first appearance of Destruction (Olethros).

Three Septembers and a January
Emperor Norton whose madness keeps him sane.

Despair, Delirium, and Desire wager with Dream; more hints about Destruction. Desire threatens Dream at end with "Kindly Ones".

Thermidor
Johanna Constantine undertakes an errand on behalf of Morpheus, retrieving the head of Orpheus from within Revolutionary Paris. Robespierre's intent to destroy mystery through brutal ratiocination is his undoing.

The Hunt
A grandfather tells a story to his teen granddaughter, melding the lore of Romani and lycanthrope, Slavic Jewry and Diaspora. The mystery here is built up in the story, then revealed to be of a highly personal nature. Evidently he wants his family's legacy to endure.

Lucien has a small role regarding a book lost from Dream's library. Another nod to Cabell with the emerald of Koshchei the Deathless.

August
A story told by a dwarf, companion to Caius Augustus, underscoring the importance of rules. Caius leaves his ceremonial role once a year, for only then can he think unobserved even by the gods. Notably, this setting aside is itself a ceremony or ritual in adhering to rules.

Morpheus says (without naming) that Gods all start in his realm, and die there, and that all Gods are subordinate to "seven others" (presumably the Endless) and a few more besides, e.g. Jupiter defers to Terminus, the god of boundaries.

Soft Places
Marco Polo, with hints of Calvino's Invisible Cities. Stories help him find his way.

Fills in some holes in the Endless story arc, specifically: the briefest of rest stops for Morpheus between his escape and his retribution against either those responsible for his imprisonment, or those who took liberties in his absence. Also: a glimpse into what Fiddlers Green was up to in the Dreaming.

Orpheus (mini-arc, Chapters 1-4 + epilogue)
This retelling reveals that Orpheus is the son of Morpheus and Calliope. Orpheus wed to Eurydice, in many points appears to retell the Orpheus myth with very little alteration by Gaiman.

Destruction in person at the wedding, and later enables Orpheus to visit Death at her home (and notes the rules governing when mortals see Death). Evidently an appearance before Death's abdication, not a return. A hint that Delirium transformed from Delight following her own "almost marriage".

Three-In-One seen in Underworld, listening with Hades and Persephone to Orpheus's song.

Parliament of Rooks
Daniel (Morpheus's godson) and a visit to Dreaming, befriending Goldie the gargoyle and hearing a story each from Cain, Abel, and Eve. Cain suggests an important purpose for every person: their life is, precisely, a story. Cain emphasises the importance of mystery to story, which requires merely that the secret not be told, in order to endure. (Yet one secret is revealed.)

Three-In-One depicted as the three wives of Adam.

In an aside, we learn that Morpheus has been spending time alone with "her", whom Eve doesn't believe is his "type". (Calliope?)

Ramadan
Haroun al Raschid tours Baghdad in its Golden Age. Again Gaiman employs a framing device, though that's not clear until last few pages. Again mystery figures prominently, though here the secret is apparent (to the reader).

Allusion to seven strangers who each confess to murdering a hunchback, "Though the poor fool had but choked on a fishbone." A suggestive allegorical reading of the Endless and their influence on mortals. ( )
  elenchus | Jun 10, 2020 |
I'm really in the swing of my Sandman re-read and loving every second of it, now.

I love the retelling of Orpheus. Hell, that entire sequence sent chills down my spine and kept making me think along the original storyline, making fantastic connections. It's not for the faint of heart. My only complaint was the script. It wasn't the easiest to read. Still, what lies underneath is the most important. French-revolution and the Furies, indeed!

I liked all the stories, really, and even while they don't come with the same kind of kicks I'm used to, quiet reflection isn't exactly a bad outcome. Watching Emperor Augustus play a beggar was priceless, as was the examination of what makes an everlasting empire. But the First and Last Emperor of America was brilliant. Nuff Said. :) ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
In this sixth book of the Sandman series, Gaiman takes a brief pause from the main storyline. There are nine of new stories in here, some short, others longer, with characters from earlier stories and a host of new ones.

Compared to earlier books, this is not as dark or bleak, and Gaiman has dusted the stories within with a touch of whimsy, but they still have depth and the ability to make you think. Some are based in America, but he travels time and the world in the tales, with Morpheus appearing in some of them.

Having read some of the others, I didn’t feel that it was as strong, but he picks up on the dreams of the characters all the way through the stories. They are still intense and richly illustrated, and that it what makes these such a pleasure to read.
( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
The Sandman series always elicits the same reaction from me. The stories are excellent, but the illustrations are a bit too graphic for me. I keep returning to them because I love Gaiman's writing. This volume includes the stories about the following:

- The Emperor of the United States
- Orpheus during the French Revolution
- Werewolf hunter
- Caesar Augustus
- Marco Polo
- Orpheus’ wedding
- Orpheus' trip to Hades to save Eurydice
- Adam, Eve, Cain, Able and baby Daniel

The ones that were the most powerful were the tragic tales of Orpheus. In Sandman, he is
Morpheus' son. I knew his story from Greek mythology, but it's retold here in a heartbreaking way.

“At times the fact of her absence will hit you like a blow to the chest, and you will weep. But this will happen less and less as time goes on.” ( )
  bookworm12 | Oct 30, 2019 |
This was one set of stories I didn't remember much at all from my reading back when the comics were first published. I tend to prefer the contemporary tales to the historical/mythological ones collected here. These were spread out in the original run, and grouped together they made me anxious to return to the present. Still, they are very good, and I think I appreciate them more now that I'm older. "Ramadan," in particular, is exquisite. ( )
  chaosfox | Feb 22, 2019 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gaiman, NeilAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Buckingham, MarkIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Eagleson, DuncanIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Giordani, DickIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Locke, VinceIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
McManus, ShawnIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Russell, P CraigIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Talbot, BryanIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Thompson, JillIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Watkiss, JohnIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Williams, KentIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Woch, StanIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Kindzierski, LovernColoristsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Klein, ToddLetterersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Valkenburgh, Sherilyn vanColoristsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Vozzo, DanielColoristsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wolfe, GeneIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Lafeu: They say miracles are past; and we have our philosophical persons to make modern and familiar things supernatural and causeless. Hence it is that we make trifles of terrors, esconcing ourselves into seeming knowledge when we should submit ourselves to an unknown fear.
William Shakespeare, All's Well That Ends Well
I know the story, you see. I'm writing it all down for you. So it'll be remembered.
Rustichello of Pisa
Dedication
Nine short stories for nine fine people, with affection and respect: For Steve Jones, James Herbert, Mary Gentle, Geoff Ryman, Colin Greenland, Ramsey Campbell, Roz Kaveney, John Chute and Lisa Tuttle. - Neil Gaiman
First words
It was getting late, and I was losing it fast.
Quotations
Terminus is the only god to whom Jupiter must bow.
But still I persist in wondering: what was Augustus afraid of? Why did he wake in the night, screaming...? Why was he angry? Why was he scared? I do not know his secret, and Augustus has taken it with him. To Olympus. Or to the grave.
I never saw him more. But, as the Years have passed, I have on Occasion, seen him in my Dreams. And, from that Time on, the Song of Orpheus has always hovered at the Edge of my Perception; a Melody I can never truly recapture, try howsoever I will. And do not doubt that there are many in Authority to whom I would sing it, if 'twere within my Power.
I've met a lot of kings, and emperors and heads of state in my time, Joshua. I've met them all. And you know something? I think I liked you best.
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Book description
Collects "Fear of Falling," "Three Septembers and a January," "Thermidor," "The Hunt," "August," "Soft Places," "The Song of Orpheus," "The Parliament of Rooks" and "Ramadan," originally published in Vertigo Preview #1, The Sandman #29-31, 38-40, 50 and Sandman Special #1.

The critically acclaimed THE SANDMAN: FABLES AND REFLECTIONS continues the fantastical epic of Morpheus, the King of Dreams, as he observes and interacts with an odd assortment of historical and fictional characters throughout time. Featuring tales of kings, explorers, spies, and werewolves, this book of myth and imagination delves into the dark dreams of Augustus Caesar, Marco Polo, Cain and Abel, Norton I, and Orpheus to illustrate the effects that these subconscious musings have had on the course of history and mankind. -- from Vertigo(www.dccomics.com)
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