Hello & Happy Tuesday everyone!
For your consideration, below are my thoughts on the penultimate installment in the masterful Sandman graphic novel series.
DISCLAIMER: Very minute spoilers from previous issues might be present. Afraid of being spoiled, I recommend catching up on the story before reading ahead!
The Kindly Ones (Sandman Vol. 9) by Neil Gaiman:
They have had many names: The Erinyes. The Eumenides. The Dirae. The Furies. Agents of vengeance, implacable and unstoppable, they do not rest until the crime they seek to punish is washed clean with blood. It is to them, THE KINDLY ONES, that Lyta Hall turns when her baby Daniel is taken from her, and it is Dream of the Endless who becomes their target. But behind a mother’s grief and unyielding rage, there are darker forces at work, and what they set in motion will eventually demand a sacrifice greater than any the Dreaming has yet known.
The stories we tell these days are inspired by myths of old. Oral traditions have become written ones, but the intent is the same: to share with others the narratives we know, the narratives in our heart. We are all born with the ability to tell stories. And some of us are masters of the craft.
Neil Gaiman is one of those masters.
Turning to old myths, he weaves tales that mesh together quests for vengeance, power & legacies while re-imagining stories ingrained into the human conscience from centuries past. Through his words and the images supplied by a talented group of artists, Gaiman provides a stirring story that, while intricate and grandiose in its reach, founds itself on a simplicity of cause and effect.
A child has disappeared. A mother wants justice. Strife comes to Dreaming.
Easy. Simple. And yet devastating and hauntingly beautiful in its unfolding.
The Kindly Ones is the longest of the Sandman volumes to date and, as such, also reads like the most ambitious. In Gaiman’s deft hands, it is well executed and exceeds expectations.
Morpheus is at the center of this tale, charged with the taking of a boy, and subsequently pursued by the relentless Furies. His story plays out like tragedies of old, but never crosses into the melodramatic. As is characteristic of Dream, he maintains a calm throughout the narrative, though the darkness of his despair and desire are slowly revealed as the story progresses.
Morpheus has always been one of my favourite characters, ever since his introduction in Preludes & Nocturnes. A stoic, heroic figure, he elicits sympathy. His arc in this ninth volume is tremendous, his character at once is both damned and liberated and it is all utterly heartbreaking.
The The Kindly Ones possesses a thematic richness bolstered by impressive subplots: especially through that of Rose. Facing the death of an acquaintance, she embarks on a quest to find her grandmother’s legacy and simultaneously – and unwittingly – stumbles through Dream’s past. She too must contend with the ending of life, her ultimate reconciliation echoing a profound thought: we live, we die, and most of us will be forgotten.
The Kindly Ones captivates with charming characters, poignant plots, nuanced narratives and an evocative ending.
May inspiration flow like ink upon your quill,