- 1 Synopsis
- 2 About
- 3 Chapters
- 3.1 Chapter 1: Death - Death and Venice
- 3.2 Chapter 2: Desire - What I've Tasted of Desire
- 3.3 Chapter 3: Dream - The Heart of a Star
- 3.4 Chapter 4: Despair - Fifteen Portraits of Despair
- 3.5 Chapter 5: Delirium - Going Inside
- 3.6 Chapter 6: Destruction - On the Peninsula
- 3.7 Chapter 7: Destiny - Endless Nights
- 4 Continuity Notes
- 5 Trivia
- 6 Gallery
Alternately haunting, bittersweet, erotic and nightmarish, the seven stories in this book-one for each of the Endless siblings, each illustrated by a different artist-reveal strange secrets and surprising truths about the Endless.
The book is divided into seven chapters, each devoted to one of the Endless, a family of brothers and sisters who are physical manifestations of the metaphysical concepts: Dream, Death, Desire, Destruction, Delirium, Despair and Destiny. Each tale is stylistically different and illustrated by a different artist. Most of the tales are independent of each other; however, Destruction's tale relates to and immediately follows Delirium's. Destruction and Delirium's tales are the only ones that take place after the events of the Sandman series.
Chapter 1: Death - Death and Venice
Art by P. Craig Russell
This story deals with the idea of quality versus quantity of life. It is split between two views: the lives of a group on an island off the coast of Venice protected by magic from Death versus the memories and thoughts of a young American (the conclusion suggests he is a special forces soldier) who has never forgotten his childhood encounter with her.
The story is narrated by a man in his late twenties/early thirties who seems to be disillusioned with the world around him. He walks around Venice speaking of time, illusion and trickery before seguing into an extended flashback of his childhood trip to Venice. While playing hide and seek he gets lost and meets Death of the Endless before a locked gate. She asks him to open it, which he attempts to do until finally he is found by his cousins hours later. They return to Venice with him in disgrace. The remaining story is his return to that gate, subsequent dealing with Death, musings on the facade of reality, his obsession with Death, and his general melancholy.
Chapter 2: Desire - What I've Tasted of Desire
Art by Milo Manara
This story depicts a woman who bargains with Desire to win the hand of her love and then loses him to war. The title is probably taken from a line in Robert Frost's poem Fire and Ice. Gaiman himself has said that the story is based on a historical anecdote told by George MacDonald Fraser. He tells the story of a woman named Kara in an apparently pre-Roman Britain, wherein she becomes enamored of a handsome neighbour. Upon consultation later, a witch refers her to Desire. The young man goes to the coast while his father goes to negotiate an exchange of hostages; and upon the latter's failure, Kara tells the former that his father is dead. On the way she meets Desire, who promises to inspire an unbreakable longing in the object of her love, the young man - Danyal. As a result, Danyal courts her for three months, until she consents to marry him. Unfortunately, he is killed soon afterward, and his killers come asking Kara for shelter, which she grants in obedience to cultural tradition. Upon seeing her husband's severed head, she flatters each of the killers into performing contests of strength, skill, and conversation, et al., until her own warriors return the following morning to kill them all. Thereafter, she is said to have remarried; she dies of old age at the conclusion of her story.
Chapter 3: Dream - The Heart of a Star
Art by Miguelanxo Prado
Near the beginning of the habitability of the universe, Dream and his new paramour Killalla of the Glow travel to a meeting of astronomical phenomena, wherein Killalla is astonished to identify the delegates as the very stars, galaxies, and dimensions which comprise the cosmos. At an encounter with her world's own sun, Sto-Oa, Killalla and the star fall in love at the behest of Desire, while Dream watches. Here, Death is an unmerciful character and Delight has not become Delirium; whereas the defection of Killalla begins Dream's long-standing rivalry with Desire. The first aspect of Despair also appears in the story, quite different in appearance and more sociable than her latter aspect.
Chapter 4: Despair - Fifteen Portraits of Despair
Art by Barron Storey, designed by Dave McKean
This collection of fifteen very short vignettes illustrates different aspects of Despair, either the character herself, the emotion in abstract, or people in a state of despair. One is about an unemployed man who's feeding cats, only to have them end up eating each other to survive when he goes on an extended leave for work. Another is about a priest who's being forcibly defrocked due to a molestation scandal, despite the fact that he can prove the allegations false. A third is about a woman who, after committing suicide to escape her pain, sits on the side of the road waiting for the happiness to begin.
Chapter 5: Delirium - Going Inside
Art by Bill Sienkiewicz
This story is about several mentally unbalanced people who are brought together on a quest to save Delirium from herself. It's possible at the end of this story that Delirium is somewhat healed in some fundamental way; at least two of the people involved in her rescue are also at least partly healed. Daniel/Dream, Dream's raven Matthew, and Barnabas (Delirium's dog protector on indefinite loan from Destruction), also appear as part of the rescue mission.
Chapter 6: Destruction - On the Peninsula
Art by Glenn Fabry
This is a story about some archaeologists who uncover and explore a peninsula from many years in the future. Chronologically, this takes place after Delirium's "Going Inside", the chapter preceding this one, featuring Delirium herself. Dialogue between Delirium and a human character indicate that the rift between Destruction and the rest of the Endless has been partially healed. The story is narrated by a female archaeologist who has constant dreams and waking dreams of the world in many post-apocalyptic forms, indicating that she belongs to Destruction's realm; this is echoed in the events of the story as she becomes deeply attracted to him while uncovering artifacts on the peninsula. According to Delirium, the artifacts the archaeologists uncover on the peninsula are not from the future, but a distortion of reality caused by Delirium and/or Destruction's presence in the area. In the end, the peninsula is mysteriously destroyed. The facts that Destruction may have caused the distortion of reality, that he has agreed to talk to his family again, and that the peninsula is ultimately destroyed could somehow imply that he may or may not have come back to his functions and responsibilities.
Chapter 7: Destiny - Endless Nights
Art by Frank Quitely
This short story is simply a wander through Destiny's garden of forking paths. Based on the clothes of Delirium's statue in one of the panels and the posture of Dream's statue, it seems to be taking place during The Kindly Ones.
|Collections||Preludes and Nocturnes • The Doll's House • Dream Country • Season of Mists • A Game of You • Fables and Reflections • Brief Lives • Worlds' End • The Kindly Ones • The Wake|
|Novellas||Midnight Theatre • The Dream Hunters • Endless Nights • Overture|
|The Sandman Universe||The Dreaming • House of Whispers • Lucifer • Books of Magic • John Constantine: Hellblazer • The Dreaming: Waking Hours • Hell & Gone|
|Other||Death: The Time of Your Life • Death: The High Cost of Living • Lucifer • Book of Dreams|