The Kindly Ones is the ninth 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.
Lyta Hall decides to leave her baby Daniel, the light of her life, with a baby-sitter so she can go out with her friend Carla. When they return, Daniel has been kidnapped; the baby-sitter was asleep.
She calls the police, but instead of real cops, Loki and Puck answer the call and pretend to investigate the case. Lyta begins to go insane trying to keep afloat and keep hoping, and finally the pretend cops say his body was found badly burned. They show her a photo. Lyta goes officially insane.
She begins to try to locate Dream, because she thinks he is the kidnapper, since he promised he'd be back for the child one day. She ends up inside a large fantasy, meeting Medusa's two sisters who try to entice her to become their sister so they can be three again. Lyta's hair turns into snakes, but she refuses their offer.
She then finds the Furies, and offers to let them use her to punish Dream. They wish to do this for spilling family blood, and Lyta has her obvious reasons. Loki and Puck have Daniel in their clutches, and they are burning away his humanity by fire. Loki is doing this in an attempt to help destroy Dream, because it was Dream's fault he suffered so much, even though Loki owes him for setting him free from his bindings, he hates Dream for making him bend to another's will. He kills Lyta's friend Carla for investigating Daniel's disappearance too much.
The Queen of Faerie wants Nuala back, so she sends Nuala's brother Cluracan to get her from Dream's realm. He gets her free without complaint, which saddens Nuala because she loves Dream, and wanted him to retain her presence. He gives her the option of calling him on her enchanted pendant, when he sees she wants to stay.
Dream wants Daniel out of Loki's care, so he creates a new version of the Corinthian and sends him, with Matthew the raven, to rescue him. The Corinthian wins the fight, but is angry at Matthew for deserting him--which he couldn't help, because he was pulled back to the Dreaming.
Lyta Hall is busy at this time killing Dream's creations, which are each a bit like a piece of himself. When Dream tries to kill Lyta to end the killing spree in his realm, he finds she is protected by none other than Thessaly, who turns out to be Dream's lover from Brief Lives, the one he was stormy over. Thessaly does the protecting in order to lengthen her life even more (she is long since a couple millenia old), and this favor is granted by the Fates for protecting their prize. Dream decides not to violate rules to kill Lyta inside the circle.
He retreats to the Dreaming, where he's also protected, but he is lured out when Nuala calls him with her pendant, wanting to know what the trouble is about. He tells her that the Furies are after him because he killed his son, and then when he goes back, he finds the Furies have taken over the Dreaming. He decides to fight them. Before he does so, he answers Matthew's questions about what happened to his previous ravens. He tells him that some are sent to sister Death, one went back to being human, and some have changed forms to continue serving in the Dreaming; bookkeeper Lucien was one of those.
The Fates then attack Dream and threaten to destroy his realm. Dream goes to his sister, Death, leaving his tools in Matthew's care . . . and as he takes her hand, saying at least he did not ever abandon his realm . . . he dies. And Daniel is transformed into the new Dream, because his existence is not negotiable; there has to be a Dream, in some form or another. Daniel-Dream is a white version of his counterpart, and is born to take over the Dreaming.
See the next Sandman book: The Wake