December 14, 2022

REVIEW The Sandman Act I by Neil Gaiman (Adapted by Dirk Maggs)

The Sandman Act I by Neil Gaiman (Adapted by Dirk Maggs)
Rating: 5 Stars
Release Date: July 15, 2020
Format: Audiobook 
Publisher: DC Comics and Audible Originals

Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman Act I is a beloved epic fantasy tale based on the original publication of graphic novels (with the audiobook adaptation written and directed by Dirk Maggs). With a full cast, a completely produced audiobook production, and the author leading the charge as the narrator, it’s one of my favorite audiobooks of all time. You might also be familiar with The Sandman because of the recent adaptation by Netflix - this audiobook covers a little bit more than the TV show does. Readers are invited to follow the story of the King of Dreams, Lord Morpheus, as he works to reclaim his tools and rebuild his realm after a century of forced imprisonment. 

Neil Gaiman wove enough references into the story that even the pickiest of fantasy readers should be satisfied. There are references to mythology (Morpheus, Loki, Odin), angels and demons (specifically Lucifer), and also some references to DC comics characters and locations. Enter the Martian Manhunter and John Constantine! 

It’s rare that an author is as equally talented a narrator as they are a writer, but Neil Gaiman fills both roles with ease. There is a full cast of actors giving voice to the characters, with some big names making an appearance, and I loved how immersive it was. The music, sound effects, and background noises added to the experience. I’ve listened to the book before, but it was exciting to revisit The Sandman after watching the television show and get to see what’s similar and what was changed. They are set up similarly with each episode of the audiobook covering roughly the same material as the TV show.   I’m impressed with how similar James McAvoy and Tom Sturridge sound, giving voice to Morpheus in the audiobook and TV show respectively. Some of my other favorite actors in the audiobook were Kerry Shale (Abel) and Taron Egerton (John Constantine). I want to clarify that the audiobook is intended for mature readers only. The explicit language, graphic violence, and strong sexual content make The Sandman unsuitable for younger ears. 

Overall, this was a fantastic audiobook. I’m excited to listen to Act II, but I’m waiting to see if Netflix will pick up The Sandman for season 2 before doing so. If you enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s work, you could also check out American Gods, Stardust, Coraline, and Good Omens (among many other titles). If you enjoyed Neil Gaiman as a narrator, I would recommend you check out his book Norse Mythology (especially if you are a fan of mythology). 

TRIGGER WARNING: Pedophilia, Child Abuse, Rape, Graphic Violence, Blood, Gore, Death, Suicide, Dead Animals

About the Director

Dirk Maggs, a freelance writer and director working across all media, is principally known for his work in radio, where he evolved radio drama into "Audio Movies," a near-visual approach combining scripts, layered sound effects, cinematic music and cutting edge technology. He pioneered the use of Dolby Surround in BBC Radio. He was among the first nominees for the Directors Guild of Great Britain Outstanding Achievement in Radio Award, and in 2005 he was invited to become one of the first Honorary Fellows of the University of Winchester for his work in the dramatic arts.

From 2003 to 2005, Maggs produced new episodes of Douglas Adams' science fiction comedy series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, adapted from the novels based on the original radio series that Adams wrote. The books that Maggs adapted were written after the radio series ended its original run.

He co-founded Perfectly Normal Productions Ltd (PNP) with Paul Weir and Richard Adams to create compelling high-quality popular audio drama in serialized form for delivery to personal digital players and cell phones.

Early in his career Dirk became known for directing adaptations of comic book storylines. He started in 1988 with the 50th Anniversary Man Of Steel docudrama Superman on Trial, carried on with a 50th birthday tribute to the Dark Knight: Batman: The Lazarus Syndrome. This was followed by The Adventures Of Superman, Batman: Knightfall, The Amazing Spider-Man, and his final BBC Radio superhero series, Judge Dredd in 1995. Along the way his production of Superman: Doomsday and Beyond ("Superman Lives" in the USA) won the 1994 Audie Award for Best Dramatisation from the American Booksellers Association and Spoken Word Audio of The Year from Publishers Weekly.

About the Author

Neil Gaiman was born in Hampshire, UK, and now lives in the United States near Minneapolis. As a child he discovered his love of books, reading, and stories, devouring the works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, James Branch Cabell, Edgar Allan Poe, Michael Moorcock, Ursula K. LeGuin, Gene Wolfe, and G.K. Chesterton. A self-described "feral child who was raised in libraries," Gaiman credits librarians with fostering a life-long love of reading: "I wouldn't be who I am without libraries. I was the sort of kid who devoured books, and my happiest times as a boy were when I persuaded my parents to drop me off in the local library on their way to work, and I spent the day there. I discovered that librarians actually want to help you: they taught me about interlibrary loans."

Gaiman began his writing career in England as a journalist. His first book was a Duran Duran biography that took him three months to write, and his second was a biography of Douglas Adams, Don't Panic: The Official Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy Companion. Gaiman describes his early writing: "I was very, very good at taking a voice that already existed and parodying or pastiching it." Violent Cases was the first of many collaborations with artist Dave McKean. This early graphic novel led to their series Black Orchid, published by DC Comics.

The groundbreaking series Sandman followed, collecting a large number of US awards in its 75 issue run, including nine Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards and three Harvey Awards. In 1991, Sandman became the first comic ever to receive a literary award, the 1991 World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story.

Neil Gaiman is credited with being one of the creators of modern comics, as well as an author whose work crosses genres and reaches audiences of all ages. He is listed in the Dictionary of Literary Biography as one of the top ten living post-modern writers and is a prolific creator of works of prose, poetry, film, journalism, comics, song lyrics, and drama.

Gaiman has achieved cult status and attracted increased media attention, with recent profiles in The New Yorker magazine and by CBS News Sunday Morning.

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