The Sandman by Neil Gaiman, adapted by Dirk Maggs The Sandman by Neil Gaiman, Dirk Maggs
Narrator: Riz Ahmed, Kat Dennings, Taron Egerton, Neil Gaiman, James McAvoy, Samantha Morton, Bebe Neuwirth, Andy Serkis, Michael Sheen
Series: Sandman Audible Original #1
Published by Audible Original on July 15, 2020
Source: Audible Freebie
Genres: Fantasy, Horror
Length: 11 hrs 2 mins
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon or Audible
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four-half-stars

Hailed by the Los Angeles Times Magazine as “the greatest epic in the history of comic books”, The Sandman changed the game with its dark, literary world of fantasy and horror - creating a global, cultural phenomenon in the process. At long last, Audible and DC present the first-ever audio production of the New York Times best-selling series written by acclaimed storyteller Neil Gaiman (who also serves as co-executive producer). Adapted and directed by multi-award-winner (and frequent Gaiman collaborator) Dirk Maggs, and performed by an ensemble cast with James McAvoy (It, Parts one and two, X-Men: First Class, Split) in the title role, this first installment of a multi-part original audio series will transport you to a world that re-writes the rules of audio entertainment the way that The Sandman originally re-defined the graphic novel.

When The Sandman, also known as Lord Morpheus - the immortal king of dreams, stories and the imagination - is pulled from his realm and imprisoned on Earth by a nefarious cult, he languishes for decades before finally escaping. Once free, he must retrieve the three “tools” that will restore his power and help him to rebuild his dominion, which has deteriorated in his absence. As the multi-threaded story unspools, The Sandman descends into Hell to confront Lucifer (Michael Sheen), chases rogue nightmares who have escaped his realm, and crosses paths with an array of characters from DC comic books, ancient myths, and real-world history, including: Inmates of Gotham City's Arkham Asylum, Doctor Destiny, the muse Calliope, the three Fates, William Shakespeare (Arthur Darvill), and many more.

A powerhouse supporting cast helps translate this masterwork into a sonic experience worthy of its legacy, including Riz Ahmed, Kat Dennings, Taron Egerton, Samantha Morton, Bebe Neuwirth, Andy Serkis, and more. Setting the stage for their performance is an unprecedented cinematic soundscape featuring an original musical score by British Academy Award winner James Hannigan. Fans will especially revel in a new twist for the audio adaptation: Neil Gaiman himself serves as the narrator. Follow him as he leads listeners along a twisting path of myths, imagination and, often, terror. Even in your wildest dreams, you’ve never heard anything like this.

I don’t read graphic novels often. I’m not good at it. I haven’t learned to slow down enough and pay attention to the images. Yes, I could practice, but it turns out I don’t care that much. I had seen the ad for The Sandman on Audible, but had pretty much ignored it until a friend mentioned it on Facebook. I admit to being leery – a graphic novel in audio form, a “full cast” production – but it was free and only about 11 hours.

With all the voices, sounds effects, and too much music, this is more of a radio play than an audiobook, not that that’s good or bad. As someone who is unfamiliar with The Sandman graphic, I thoroughly enjoyed this adaptation. It’s dramatic and immersive and I never felt lost or like I was missing something. There were a few references to the DC universe that I caught but also probably several that slipped right over my head, which was fine.

The story opens during WW1, when Dream of The Endless, aka Morpheus, is captured by the leader of an arcane cult and kept prisoner in the mansion’s basement for 70 years. His absence leads to global consequences, including an epidemic of Sleeping Sickness and the release of horrific nightmares into the world. Dream evenyually escapes, but before he can restore his kingdom, he must reclaim three objects invested with his power. Of course, he recovers his “tools” and over the following episodes, we meet a variety of characters affected and interconnected by Morpheus. Some of the stories seem self-contained, some are part of extended plot arcs, there are even some where he appears only briefly, but all are linked in some way to the world of dreams and stories. Like any work that is episodic in nature, there were some pieces I enjoyed more than others, but Morpheus is an amazing character, cool and powerful and dark and funny.

Volume #2 comes out tomorrow so I will definitely be continuing the journey through The Dreaming.

About Dirk Maggs

David George Dirk Maggs (born February 1955) is a British freelance writer and director. He is principally known for his work in radio, where he evolved radio drama into “Audio Movies,” a near-visual approach combining scripts, layered sound effects, cinematic music and technology. He pioneered the use of Dolby Surround in BBC Radio. He was among the first nominees for the Directors Guild of Great Britain Outstanding Achievement in Radio Award, and in 2005 he was invited to become one of the first Honorary Fellows of the University of Winchester for his work in the dramatic arts.

About Neil Gaiman

Neil Richard MacKinnon Gaiman (10 November 1960) is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, nonfiction, audio theatre, and films. His works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. He has won numerous awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards, as well as the Newbery and Carnegie medals. He is the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work, The Graveyard Book (2008). In 2013, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book Awards.

2 Comments

  • Seriously, does the House of Gaiman ever run out of ideas? Good Omens, American Gods, Coraline, Anansi Boys… I’d tried to read Sandman before, but yes, I’m not a comic/ graphic novel person either. I get too mesmerized by the artwork to read the speech bubbles, haha. Thanks, the audiobook looks like a great adaptation.

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