NewThe Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Chronological Reading Order

This reading order arranges the various storylines in Sandman into a strictly chronological order.

More accurately, as close to one as is possible, given the title’s proclivity for stories within stories. When stories are not assigned dates but clearly take place in ‘the present’, they are assumed to take place at roughly the same time that they were published, and listed according to publication date unless there are compelling reasons not to do so. This Reading Order concerns itself solely with Neil Gaiman’s tales of the Endless – no other writers are represented here, regardless of whether the Endless (or related characters) appeared in their works or not. (This page would be at least twice as long if they were.)

Please note that this is not necessarily the recommended or best order to read the books in – Neil Gaiman arranged his stories with great care to achieve certain artistic effects, some of which may well be lost in a simple chronological recounting. (You can find a listing of the publication order here.) On the other hand, certain plot threads, and the elegant play of cause and effect, are easier to trace in this order. Therefore, gentle reader, proceed carefully, and of your own free will.

Prologues
Dream: The Heart of a Star [1] Sandman: Endless Nights
A Dream of a Thousand Cats [2] Dream Country
Tales in the Sand [3] The Doll’s House
The Song of Orpheus [4] Fables and Reflections
Distant Mirrors: August [5] Fables and Reflections
Desire – What I’ve Tasted of Desire [6] Sandman: Endless Nights
Distant Mirrors: Ramadan [7] Fables and Reflections
The Dream Hunters [8] The Dream Hunters
Men of Good Fortune [9] The Doll’s House
A Midsummer Night’s Dream [10] Dream Country
The Tempest [11] The Wake
Distant Mirrors: Thermidor [12] Fables and Reflections
How They Met Themselves [13] The Absolute Sandman, vol.3
Distant Mirrors: Three Septembers and a January [14] Fables and Reflections
Overture: Chapter One [15] The Sandman: Overture Deluxe Edition
Overture: Chapter Two The Sandman: Overture Deluxe Edition
Overture: Chapter Three The Sandman: Overture Deluxe Edition
Overture: Chapter Four The Sandman: Overture Deluxe Edition
Overture: Chapter Five The Sandman: Overture Deluxe Edition
Overture: Chapter Six The Sandman: Overture Deluxe Edition
The Sandman
Sleep of the Just [16] Preludes & Nocturnes
Sandman Midnight Theatre [17] Neil Gaiman’s Midnight Days
Imperfect Hosts [18] Preludes & Nocturnes
…Dream a Little Dream of Me. [19] Preludes & Nocturnes
A Hope in Hell Preludes & Nocturnes
Passengers Preludes & Nocturnes
24 Hours Preludes & Nocturnes
Sound and Fury Preludes & Nocturnes
The Sound of Her Wings Preludes & Nocturnes
The Doll’s House The Doll’s House
Moving In [20] The Doll’s House
Playing House The Doll’s House
Collectors The Doll’s House
Into The Night The Doll’s House
Lost Hearts The Doll’s House
Calliope Dream Country
Facade Dream Country
Season of Mists: Prologue Season of Mists
Season of Mists: Chapter 1 Season of Mists
Season of Mists: Chapter 2 Season of Mists
Season of Mists: Chapter 3 Season of Mists
Season of Mists: Chapter 4 Season of Mists
Season of Mists: Chapter 5 Season of Mists
Season of Mists: Chapter 6 Season of Mists
Season of Mists: Epilogue Season of Mists
Slaughter on Fifth Avenue A Game of You
Lullabies of Broadway A Game of You
Bad Moon Rising A Game of You
Beginning to See the Light A Game of You
Over the Sea to Sky A Game of You
I Woke Up and One of Us Was Crying A Game of You
Fear of Falling Fables and Reflections
Convergence – The Hunt Fables and Reflections
Convergence – Soft Places Fables and Reflections
Convergence – The Parliament of Rooks Fables and Reflections
The Land of Summer’s Twilight [21] The Books of Magic
Brief Lives, Chapter 1 Brief Lives
Brief Lives, Chapter 2 Brief Lives
Brief Lives, Chapter 3 Brief Lives
Brief Lives, Chapter 4 Brief Lives
Brief Lives, Chapter 5 Brief Lives
Brief Lives, Chapter 6 Brief Lives
Brief Lives, Chapter 7 Brief Lives
Brief Lives, Chapter 8 Brief Lives
Brief Lives, Chapter 9 Brief Lives
A Tale of Two Cities World’s End
Cluracan’s Tale World’s End
Hob’s Leviathan World’s End
The Golden Boy World’s End
Cerements World’s End
World’s End World’s End
The Spirit of the Stairway [22] Death: The High Cost of Living
A Night to Remember [22] Death: The High Cost of Living
The High Cost of Living [22] Death: The High Cost of Living
The Castle The Kindly Ones
The Kindly Ones, Chapter 1 The Kindly Ones
The Kindly Ones, Chapter 2 The Kindly Ones
The Kindly Ones, Chapter 3 The Kindly Ones
The Kindly Ones, Chapter 4 The Kindly Ones
The Kindly Ones, Chapter 5 The Kindly Ones
The Kindly Ones, Chapter 6 The Kindly Ones
The Kindly Ones, Chapter 7 The Kindly Ones
The Kindly Ones, Chapter 8 The Kindly Ones
The Kindly Ones, Chapter 9 The Kindly Ones
The Kindly Ones, Chapter 10 The Kindly Ones
The Kindly Ones, Chapter 11 The Kindly Ones
The Kindly Ones, Chapter 12 The Kindly Ones
The Kindly Ones, Chapter 13 The Kindly Ones
Epilogues
Chapter 1, Which Occurs in the Wake of What Has Gone Before The Wake
Chapter 2, In Which a Wake is Held The Wake
Chapter 3, In Which We Wake The Wake
An Epilogue, Sunday Mourning The Wake
Exiles The Wake
Things You Just Do When You’re Bored Death: The Time of Your Life
Imaginary Solutions Death: The Time of Your Life
The Time of Your Life Death: The Time of Your Life
The Flowers of Romance [23] The Absolute Sandman, vol.2
A Winter’s Tale Death: Deluxe Edition
Death – Death and Venice Sandman: Endless Nights
Despair – Fifteen Portraits of Despair Sandman: Endless Nights
Delirium – Going Inside Sandman: Endless Nights
Destruction – On the Peninsula Sandman: Endless Nights
Destiny – Endless Nights Sandman: Endless Nights

Notes:

  1. Takes place before there is life on Earth.
  2. Takes place thousands of years ago. Perhaps. Or maybe it took place yesterday.
  3. Takes place approximately ten thousand years ago.
  4. Takes place in Mythic Greece, approximately 2000 BCE (give or take a century).
  5. Takes place in 7 CE (date specified in story).
  6. Takes place in what appears to be Britain prior to the Roman conquest. As such, it may actually occur before “August”, but since neither story depends on or refers to the other, it doesn’t much matter.
  7. Takes place towards the end of Harun al Rashid’s reign as Caliph, no later than 809 CE.
  8. Takes place between the introduction of Buddhism to Japan (in 552 CE) and the first Japanese contact with Europeans (in 1543), but as it does not connect to any other story directly, may be safely read almost anywhere before “Sleep of the Just”.
  9. Begins in 1389, and takes place at intervals of a century until 1989. The subsequent two stories (“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Tempest” take place between the 1589 and 1689 chapters of this story; the next story after those (“Thermidor”) takes place between the 1789 and 1889 chapters.
  10. Takes place in 1593 (date specified in story).
  11. Takes place in 1610-11 (dates specified in story).
  12. Takes place in 1794 (date specified in story).
  13. Takes place in 1862 (date specified in story). It is placed here simply because otherwise it would fall in the middle of the subsequent story.
  14. Takes place from 1859 to 1880 (dates specified in story). And yes, Joshua Norton was a real person.
  15. Takes place immediately preceding “Sleep of the Just”.
  16. Takes place from 1916 to 1988 (dates specified in story).
  17. Takes place in 1939 (date inferred from the issues of Sandman Mystery Theatre that it takes place between, issues #36 and #37, in which dates are specified). That is to say, it takes place during “Sleep of the Just”.
  18. Takes place in 1988.
  19. John Constantine’s appearance in this story takes place at around the same time as John Constantine: Hellblazer #19, as specified in that issue.
  20. Matthew the Raven’s first appearance here immediately follows his appearance (as well as those of Dream and Eve) in Swamp Thing #85.
  21. Placed here as Dream’s sudden acquisition of a sense of humour would seem vexingly out of character at practically any other point in his tale.
  22. Placed here due to events from “A Night To Remember” also appearing in “The Kindly Ones, Chapter 8”.
  23. Takes place in 1997 (date specified in story).
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