Rating: 4.5 stars
Act III of the full-cast audio adaptation of The Sandman was suddenly released with what felt like absolutely no fanfare or previous advertising. Suddenly, one day, it was just there on Audible. This installment covers the two collections Brief Lives and World's End, as well as some of the stories collected in the anthology volume Fables and Reflections (the very first volume I ever read). It means we finally get the full and tragic story of Dream's son Orpheus and his beloved Euridyce, whose love story is doomed on their wedding day and only gets worse from there. The Song of Orpheus is a much better introduction to Sandman and the Endless than Preludes and Nocturnes, in my opinion, but I may also be biased, as this is where my love affair with the graphic novel began.
Regé-Jean Page really does an amazing job as Orpheus. His voice is incredibly pleasant, even when he's just talking. And when he sings, you really can believe he could persuade the king and queen of the Underworld to stretch their rules, just once.
In Brief Lives, the youngest of the Endless, Delerium (who was once Delight) wants to go searching for the missing member of the family, Destruction. She tries to appeal to several of her siblings, but is rejected by both Desire and Despair. Dream, who has recently broken up with a mortal lover, is even broodier than normal, and agrees to come with her mainly to distract himself from his wounded feelings. The journey doesn't entirely go as they expected, and a lot of people end up dead in their wake. The price Dream has to pay to finally keep his promise to his youngest sister is a high one, indeed, and sets in motion events that will reverberate through the rest of the series.
World's End is Gaiman's tribute to The Canterbury Tales, with a number of travelers from all over time and different worlds, stuck in a large inn at the end of the world. There is a mystical supernatural storm that has stranded them all there, and they spend their time telling stories. There are stories, within stories, within stories. Quite a few of them feature one or several of the Endless or other characters we've come across over the course of the story in some way, and all are imaginative and fantastical. Our POV character for this section is Brant Tucker, voiced really well by Wil Wheaton.
I haven't checked, but I'm assuming that at some point, possibly completely unannounced, Audible will release Act IV, which I'm guessing will collect the longest of the Sandman stories, The Kindly Ones (possibly my favourite, even though it's deeply tragic) and The Wake. As I'm highly doubtful that Netflix will commit enough time and money for the TV adaptation to ever get that far, I'm going to be waiting with bated breath, to finally hear the entirety of one of my favourite graphic novels finally adapted.
If you're not already a fan of Sandman and the audio drama adaptations, this is not the place to start. If you liked what you heard in Acts I and II, I don't think you'll be disappointed with this installment either.
Judging a book by its cover: Not really my favourite of the images they've used, but I like that if you look closely at the figures swirling around the big head, you get some hints of the stories within.
Crossposted on Cannonball Read.