Collecting the first three TPB volumes; Preludes & Nocturnes, The Doll’s House and Dream Country, this audio covers the first two major story arcs of the series. The first arc details the capture and subsequent escape of Morpheus from a coven seeking to stave off death and his question to recover the items taken from him. The second includes his attempts to restore the Dreaming and track down some of the dreams that have gone missing in his absence. Interspersed are a handful of (more or less) stand-alone stories and the narratives range from the England of various eras to Hell, small-town America, sub-Saharan Africa, several varied dreamscapes, and back again.
Since I own and have read the TPB collections multiple times over the years, it was almost impossible for me to listen to this and not bring panels of the artwork to mind. And yet, the narration and descriptions are strong enough that I can easily believe anyone who has not read them would be able to form a strong visual of the events.
One thing this re-read brought home and made me appreciate the overall story more was how much foreshadowing and set-up there was. Many of the characters introduced here will come to greater prominence and events are set in motion that will eventually pay off in future installments. It’s the sort of thing that you don’t appreciate fully the first time through but I can’t imagine only listening to this once.
The voice cast is excellent, with the author providing narration and a multitude of talents acting as the voices of the assorted characters. James McAvoy does a fine job balancing the brooding nature of Morpheus with his occasional moments of whimsicality or pomposity. But the performance I enjoyed most was that of Michael Sheen, whose low-key, personable Lucifer has me really looking forward to the adaptation of Season of Mists.
Since this is more akin to a play, with added narrative descriptions, than a novel, there’s a good chance it won’t be to everyone’s taste. But, for fans of the comic series or just Neil Gaiman’s work in general, this is a must-listen.
5 out of 5 cereal conventions.