In 1916 Dream is mistakenly kidnapped and imprisoned in place of his sister Death. Without Dream a rash of ‘sleeping sickness’ sweeps the world leaving those affected in half-lives, as sleepwalkers in daylight hours, and sometimes in a coma like sleep. After waiting over 70 years one of his captors makes a careless move and Dream is finally freed to regain his kingdom and take his revenge. He is weak after 70 years of captivity, and he is without his instruments of power – a mask made of the bones of an ancient god, a pouch of dream sand, and a ruby into which Dream had placed much of his power many centuries before. His quest to retrieve his possessions takes him into the human realm, into dreams and down to Hell. The actions he takes to regain his kingdom have consequences which resonate throughout the rest of the series.