The Sandman: The Doll's House

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Dark fantasy

The Doll's House is the second trade paperback collection of the comic book series The Sandman, published by DC Comics. It collects issues #9-16. It is written by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III, Chris Bachalo, Michael Zulli and Steve Parkhouse, coloured by Robbie Busch and lettered by Todd Klein. It was issued in paperback in 1990 - before the first volume (Preludes and Nocturnes) - and later reissued as a hardback volume in 1995. The collected edition features a foreword by Gaiman's friend Clive Barker.

Both Preludes and Nocturnes and early editions of The Doll's House reprint issue #8 of the series ("The Sound of Her Wings"). This is probably because The Doll's House was the first Sandman collection to be printed, and it is likely that at the time it was unclear whether any others would be issued. When the series became popular enough to be fully collected, issue #8 was also included in Preludes and Nocturnes, to which it is arguably the epilogue, and newer reprints of The Doll's House do not include it.

Contents

Synopsis

The overall plot concerns Dream picking up the pieces of his kingdom and existence in the wake of his imprisonment for most of the 20th century, and a machination by his sibling Desire.

Specifically, Dream tracks down several nightmares who fled his realm during his imprisonment, and also deals with a "dream vortex" that exists within a young American woman named Rose Walker. Dream knows that Walker, as the dream vortex, will draw rogue dreams and nightmares towards herself, or be drawn towards them. If left unchecked, Walker will eventually become the center of the Dreaming and cause it to collapse upon itself, and it is Dream's responsibility to kill her in order to prevent this from happening.

The Doll's House prologue begins with two men walking through a desert wearing "tribal" garb; one young, one old. The young man has just been circumcised as part of the ritual of becoming a man. The second part of the ritual is the telling of a story that has been passed down among the males of the tribe for generations. Each man hears it once, and each man tells it once (if they live long enough). Before the old man tells the story he asks the young man to find an object that he will know when he sees (which turns out to be a piece of glass in the shape of a heart).

The glass belonged to a building in a glass city that stood in the desert in which they walked many years before. The queen of this city was a woman named Nada who had fallen in love with Lord Kai'ckul (Dream), king of the Dream realm, after seeing him walking through her city at night. She proceeds to hunt him down and enters the Dreamrealm where she meets Lord Kai'ckul and tells him that she has fallen in love with him. He tells her that she may join him in the Dreamrealm if she wishes, but she refuses, telling him that no good can come from love between one of the The Endless and a mortal, then she leaves him. Dismayed, Dream follows her and convinces her to be with him, they make love on a hill overlooking her city. In the morning, a meteor strikes her city, destroying it completely (hence the glass shard). After seeing this Nada throws herself off of a cliff before Dream can stop her. He meets her in Grandmother Death's realm, and tries to convince her to come back and live in the Dreaming with him. After he asks her twice, and she refuses he tells her that if she says no again he will send her to Hell. At this point the story ends and when the young man asks about what happens to Nada afterwards, he is told, "What else could she do? She said no." In the narration, it says that the women of the tribe tell a different version, which is unknown to the males.

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