Airiz C's Reviews > The Sandman, Vol. 4: Season of Mists

The Sandman, Vol. 4 by Neil Gaiman
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For me, Season of Mists (The Sandman volume 4, issues 21-28) is where Neil Gaiman really starts to unspool the threads of his own magic at length, weaving them to the first filaments of the series’ foundation that we found in Preludes and Nocturnes and The Doll’s House. Here we get more than just fragments of the enigmatic central character of the series, Morpheus; we get to see his depth and how he slowly gets to have more touches of humanity (maybe not the technically correct term but it’s the first to come to mind) in himself.

ABUNDANT SPOILER-ISHNESS (halt now if you haven’t read it)! The story kicks off with a reunion of the Endless, sans one sibling: Destiny, Death, Dream, Desire, Despair, and Delirium. Characterization is of course spot-on: my favorite moments are when Death cracks a humorous comment about refusing to be pigeonholed (“Aw come on! You know how much I hate wearing that stuff…next thing you’re going to be moaning that I ought to get a scythe!”), Desire being the trouble-seeking and malicious creature that he/she/it is, and Delirium being adorable in her own bizarre, scatterbrained way. We see how the reunion is like an ordinary family gathering—with banters and all—except that this one isn’t really ordinary at all. Desire succeeds in angering Dream by talking about the latter’s love life, particularly about Calliope and Nada. In Preludes and Nocturnes we learn how Dream condemned Nada to Hell for ten thousand years after she turned him down. Death, who is closest to Dream, admonishes him about his behavior—induced by caprice and backed by his big ego— towards Nada’s negative response. Dream realizes his mistake and decides to free Nada from Lucifer Morningstar’s realm.

Morpheus’ decision sets the wheels of this tome running. Based on the glimpses of the haughty Dream King that we have from the stories before his incarceration, the drastic changes in him are very noticeable. This is what I’m saying he seems to have a ‘human’ touch to him after all. The first, of course, is apparent in his treatment of Rose Walker and Hob Gadling in The Doll’s House; now after ten thousand years, after Death whacks some sense into his head, he is ready to forgive. In so many mythologies I’ve encountered several punishments akin to damning one other entity to an underworld of sorts after it offended a co-deity or a higher god, and maybe one side of Dream has a propensity to that.
But Gaiman gave him a side that those entities lack: a side that can strike a chord with anyone who has pulse, anyone who has feelings. Morpheus says his final farewells to a few people including Daniel, a baby gestated in his realm, and Hob Gadling, his mortal friend. There is no tinge of drama in the goodbyes, but I find them poignant. I loved the moment he bade Death farewell; my heart sort of twitched when I read the last panel, with Death wiping a tear from her eye and muttering “idiot!”

But the goodbyes are only the beginning. In hell, Lucifer Morningstar has a revelation: his kingdom is almost empty now, and he is abdicating his throne. He explains to Morpheus how tired he is of reigning in Hell, and in the end there is no fight (see P&N for the complete reason). Instead Morpheus is given the key to Hell, making the place a protectorate of his.

Imprisonment, freedom, and escape—these are recurring themes of the whole series since the first issue. Lucifer knows resigning is like hitting two birds with one stone: he is escaping responsibility and he is also imprisoning Morpheus in a more difficult life.

And it sure is a burden to the Dream King, especially as creatures from various mythologies—Norse, Egyptian, Japanese, you name it—come to him, trying to claim the key. Morpheus sees an escape when representatives from the Silver City tells him that the Creator wants the key back, that Heaven is meaningless without Hell. So he surrenders the key to the rightful one. Violent reactions are expected especially from Hell’s former denizens; they even try to blackmail Morpheus about Nada, but everything works out well in the end. Dream once again offers Nada to be with him, and yet again she refuses. This time, not hindered by blind arrogance, Dream accepts it and releases Nada—not only from her millennia of imprisonment, but also from her memories of him.

One other theme that persists (this time taking root in Dream Country) is that sometimes Hell is not a place, but situations we put ourselves in: “We make our own hell”. Death said it; Lucifer himself said it, as well as the dead English school boy Charles Rowland. Lucifer and Rowland also states, in their individual ways, that you don’t have to stay forever in a place or situation just because other people think you should. Both of them liberate themselves.

Anyway, about the Rowland issue, sure it first looks like a filler chapter, but I think it gives the readers a fragment of the repercussion of Lucifer’s abdication, both in the literal and metaphorical way. BTW, I’ll just say that one panel made me sort of sick (I’m eating while I’m reading the novel—just saying) and I’m suddenly very grateful how the penciler and inker aren’t so graphic about the torture scene. *shivers*

Going to give this gem five stars. :)
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Mark Kenneth Rowland pala ah? hahahaha!


Airiz C ...Charles Rowland teh. Haha. Nabasa mo ba? It's the last issue in this volume.


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