More mediations and dreamscapes
I was not a big fan of the third volume Dream Country which was composed of short stories. With the notable exception of A Midsummer's Night Dream, the rest of the stories did not interest me in the long-term.
Thankfully enough, Fables and Reflections is an anthology which I thoroughly enjoyed. This volume had a lot to offer, and I devoured the tales with much content.
My favorites are definitely Three Septembers and a January, The Parliament of Rooks, Soft Places and Ramadan. But the rest of the stories were also commendable.
Stories like Thermidor, The Parliament of Rooks, and The Song of Orpheus are ones readers have to remember since chief characters there will make appearances in later volumes, particularly the Greek hero Orpheus whose connection to Dream is astonishing and yet very appropriate, if not tragically rendered on page. Meanwhile, August, The Hunt and Fear of Falling are all self-contained stories; the first one is a historical allusion pertaining to a well-known Roman figure and his darkest secret; the next one is the genre-savvy folklore which demonstrates the beauty of storytelling; and the last one is a general story about symbolic dreams.
As for my favorites, Three Septembers and a January features Despair, Desire and Delirium making bets against Dream, and their older brother showcases in the end why dreams have such a magnitude of importance even to an ordinary mortal. Soft Places follows the adventures of Marco Polo who got trapped in the sands of a desert and found himself intersecting with the sands of the Dreaming where Dream had just recently escaped captivity from the first volume. Finally, there's Ramadan and it's definitely a story that pierced through me in ways you have to experience for yourself to understand.
Gaiman's unique take on mythology, dark fantasy and gothic themes is what makes The Sandman series so easy to enjoy and even harder tor resist once he starts getting under your skin by writing stories with layers and depth that one could not imagine is possible in a comic book medium.
* This volume collection of short stories definitely helps secure The Sandman's rightful place in influential works of fiction.