Four stars for the artwork, two for the story. This is a beautifully illustrated meandering mess of a story. Precocious 12-year old Tim Hunter is chosen to get an introduction to magic so he can make a decision about his life, but somebody would have to tell you that, as the other characters frequently do, because from the story line itself you would never guess it. Tim is escorted to various fantastic places, including a very unmagical future at times, but shown very little magic performed. What little story there is here revolves mainly around Timothy not being able to follow instructions (the dire consequences he is warned about sometimes do and often don't come true).The best book in here is the Vess illustrated "The Land of Summer's Twilight." It has the closest thing there is to an actual plot and real menace. Vess is always the illustrator, along with McKean, most in tune with Gaiman's storytelling. The rest is a padded meandering mess without any substantial plot or direction. How Hunter would get any idea about a life of magic from this is beyond me.Gaiman exhibits all his weaknesses (he usually overcomes them) here. The story is a random series of incidents that just don't fit together very well. It feels like either a dash-off or something he just made up in five minutes each day. Name checking a host of DC supernatural characters was also pointless. John Constantine was good though. The only real fleshed out character. He almost has more page time than Hunter.I think Gaiman intended to rev us up for the subsequent books, but if all I knew was this one this one, I wouldn't bother seeking them out.I bought this book as a gift for my daughter because she is a Gaiman nut, but I wish I'd bought her another Sandman GN volume instead.