Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Sandman: Vol VIII: Worlds' End (1994)

Author: Neil Gaiman | Illustrators: Alec Stevens / Bryan Talbot / John Watkiss / Michael Zulli / Michael Allred / Shea Anton Pensa / Gary Amaro | Page Count: 168
"Is there any person in the world who does not dream?  Who does not contain within them worlds unimagined?"

Book 8 of 10 in the Sandman saga.  Gaiman has previously referenced and paid homage to Shakespeare, Spenser and Milton, it was only a matter of time before he turned his attentions to Chaucer.  He uses the frame narrative style used in Canterbury Tales (late 14th Century) to tie together a number of standalone episodes in a Mise en abyme that is both hit and miss.  He doesn't stop at just one layer, he gives us a story within a story within a story within a story within a story but it remains easy to follow.  The titles of the individual tales give their own extra nods to classic literature, A Tale of Two Cities, Cluracan's Tale, Hob's Leviathan, The Golden Boy etc.  The Chaucerian pilgrimage pervades them all.  

A lot of different illustrators with dramatically different styles worked on this book which gives each entry its own identity; cleverly the frame that holds it all together is pencilled by the same person every time, Bryan Talbot.  The first of the tales was my favourite.  It has a very overt nod to Lovecraft, and the art by Alec Stevens is sublime.

What may upset some readers is the fact that Morpheus is largely absent.  The Endless play almost no part directly in half the works, although their influence can be keenly felt as a subtext and by the end you’ll understand why.  Despite sitting largely removed from what has come before (there is someone from Vol II: The Doll's House that reappears but it’s of no great importance) it is deeply referential to what follows in the next book.

My closing argument was going to be ‘where else can you find Chaucer wedded to Lovecraft?’ but in truth, if you’ve followed the series thus far you don’t need a reason to continue, you’ll know already if you want to see it through to the end, which is very close now.

The book collects together Sandman issues 51 - 56

3 smiley buttons with a splash of blood out of 5

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