Dream Country is the third trade paperback in the excellent Sandman series by Neil Gaiman.

Writer: Neil Gaiman
Penciller: Kelley Jones, Charles Vess, Colleen Doran
Inker: Malcolm Jones III
Letterer: Todd Klein
Colorist: Robbie Busch, Steve Oliff
Covers: Dave McKean
Introduction: Steve Erickson

Dream Country contains several short stories:
Calliope, in which an author buys the muse Calliope for his own personal gain, and is duly punished by one of the Endless.
A Dream of a Thousand Cats, in which a cat tells how cats once ruled the earth, and how the ability of humans to dream changed it all, but how cats can change it back someday.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, in which William Shakespeare and his troupe of actors stage the play for the faeries and Dream of the Endless.
Facade, in which a woman seeks relief from a bizarrely degenerative condition--she can change what her face looks like, but it degrades rapidly, and so she has to peel it off and grow a new one.

Throughout the book, the Endless are extended even further into believable characters.
Dream Country is the third graphic novel collecting the works of the comic The Sandman by Neil Gaiman. Here I offer a rather detailed synopsis of the plot, so if you wish to be surprised when reading it, stop here. Most major and some minor plot details have been included.

This book begins with author Richard Madoc making a deal/bargain with a friend to gain possession of Calliope, the Muse. Calliope was badly treated by her last jailer, and Madoc continues the tradition, regularly raping her for inspiration. He writes a bestseller as a result.

Calliope attempts to get help from other Muses--who show their faces as the Maiden, Mother, and Crone--but they only help her in the form of suggesting she ask Dream of the Endless for help, since we learn at this point that he is her former lover and she is the mother of his child. Dream agrees to help, and sends Madoc a dream in which he is requested to release Calliope. When he refuses, saying he still needs her ideas, Dream gives him so many ideas he cannot write them all down and for lack of writing implements he scrapes his fingertips on the wall to write the ideas with his own blood. Finally he agrees to release his Muse. Calliope gets Dream to release Madoc, and Calliope goes back to "the minds of humanity," while Madoc is left without ideas.

In the next disconnected story, we hear of a cat revolution. A Siamese cat preaches that she thought she was independent until her owners drowned her kittens. The Siamese, desperate for help, visits the cat incarnation of Dream. He tells the Siamese to get all the cats to dream of a world where cats rule people, as it has apparently been in the past. If enough cats dream it, the world will reflect the dream. But not exactly change--it will just be as it has always been, history will have always been that way.

The next story has Dream and Shakespeare consorting again. Shakespeare has agreed to do two plays for Dream, and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is the first, performed for a faerie audience. Real actors from Shakespeare's time are the players in the story, and it tells of the setup of the play and Faerie's reaction. They watch a play that is essentially about themselves. Puck reveals in conversation that Dream is one of seven Endless. Some of the faeries seem confused about whether the play with humans in it is to be entertainment or lunch. As the play goes on the fey folk discuss it and afterwards some have words with the actors representing them. Dream wonders if he has been right to use Shakespeare as a vessel, but Titania, the queen, thinks it's fine work. Dream reveals that this play is repayment for entertaining him; he wishes the Fae to be remembered by mortals. Shakespeare's son died at age eleven; this story suggests that he went to the faerie kingdom or was taken by it, being smitten with Titania.

The last story in this collection follows the saga of Rainie Blackwell, who's been exposed to the Orb of Ra, which changed her makeup and rendered her inhuman. She can morph and change her elemental composition, but now she hates being non-human, and tries to cover her face with masks that fall off regularly. She meets weekly with a guy from the benefits department, which is her only happy time. Then she gets a lunch date with an old friend and puts on a face for it, but the "normal talk" makes Rainie jealous and sad, and her mask falls into her food, so she runs away. The benefits guy she so enjoyed talking to is transferred, and she wants to commit suicide, but can't because her body can't be hurt. Death stops by to talk to Rainie and tells her she needs to stop clinging to the past, but Rainie insists she no longer wants to be a freak, so she asks Ra to turn her loose, and so he does . . . and she dies.

See the next Sandman book: Season of Mists

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