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The Sandman

Since I started listening to audiobooks a few months ago, I’ve come to the conclusion that some books are easier to adapt to audiobooks than others. The Sandman is a well-known comic book series by Neil Gaiman, and though I never read it, I was aware of it. Reading the Audible was adapting it to an audiobook, I thought it would be a good opportunity to delve into the story about the Lord of Dream.

Before getting into the review, I want to note that Netflix is creating a TV series based on The Sandman. As of this writing, it hasn’t been released yet, so this isn’t a review of that series. While I plan to watch it when it comes out, and may do a review of it, this particular review is of the Audible product.

The first conclusion I came to about this is that it’s isn’t an audiobook, so much as an audio drama. Gaiman serves as the narrator, but there are dozens of actors playing different roles, imbuing the characters with lives of emotion and toil. With comic books and graphic novels, the reader can see what the characters look like, but with an audiobook that isn’t possible. Instead, the author provides brief physical descriptions as part of the narration. Between that and the performance of the actors, the listeners’ imaginations can fill in the details. The series has 20 episodes, ranging from around twenty to fifty minutes, with most episodes being around half an hour, which is conveniently about the length of my commute.

The Sandman of the title, is also known as Morpheus and as Dream, is one of The Endless, a family of seven immortal siblings that rule different aspects of life in the universe. Others of The Endless are Destiny, Death, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium, and various members make appearances in different episodes. Since The Sandman comic books were originally published by Dark Horse Comics, which was an imprint of DC Comics, some minor characters from the larger DC Universe also show up, such as Dr. Jonathan Crane, a/k/a The Scarecrow.

While there are a few episodes that could be considered on their own, most of the episodes are parts of larger story arcs, and should be listened to in order. Perhaps ironically, in most of the episodes, The Sandman is only a minor role. Most of these episodes spend a lot of time describing the characters (usually evil) and their activities (often violent), and how Dream comes to punish them. While some denizens might deserve to die for their diabolic deeds, for Dream is not Death.

Despite Audible’s version of The Sandman not being an audiobook, I highly recommend it, especially for commuters, as the length of the episodes coincides pretty well with a half-hour commute. It should also appeal to fans of comic books, or those with interests in stories of gods, fantasy, and the supernatural. Needless to say, it’s also highly recommended for fans of Neil Gaiman’s other works, particularly Good Omens, Neverwhere, and American Gods.

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