Jared’s Totally Unsolicited And Completely Subjective Review Of: The Eyes of the Dragon, by Stephen King!
Don’t worry, if you’ve never heard of this one, neither had I.
Before we arrive at the Dubious Subjectification (yes indeedy I did make up that word) of Art Via Stars, let’s take a brief sojourn to the back of the dust jacket for this beaut’, where Mr. King said this:
“Although I had written thirteen novels by the time my daughter had attained an equal number of years, she hadn’t read any of them. She’s made it clear that she loves me, but has very little interest in my vampires, ghoulies, and slushy crawling things.
“I sat down one night in our western Maine house to start this story, then called The Napkins. Eventually the tale was told, and Naomi took hold of the finished manuscript with a marked lack of enthusiasm. That look gradually changed to one of rapt interest as the story kidnapped her. It was good to have her come to me later and give me a hug and tell me the only thing wrong with it was that she didn’t want it to end.
“That, my friends, is a writer’s favorite song.
“I respected my daughter enough then–and now–to try and give her my best… and that includes a refusal to ‘talk down.’ Or put another way, I did her the courtesy of writing for myself as well as for her.”
I loved everything about that. I loved the sweetness of a father writing for his daughter. I loved that she previously eschewed his work. I love that in spite of that, he didn’t pander, and stuck to what ought to be any writer’s creed: to tell the truth, as they discover it in the words.
Did that dust-jacket blurb influence my reading experience, and subsequently my review? It sure as shit did. But that’s what you came for, friend, my subjectivity. Nobody wants to read an objective review, do they?
Now, without further ado:
Background: If you’d asked me a couple years ago if I thought I’d enjoy reading fantasy novels, I’m sure my answer would have sounded like “That’s a hard no, partner.” Yet it turns out I do. In fact, these days when I read contemporary, feels-like-real-life fiction (I’m sure there’s a name for that genre/trope but I’m not turning away from our precious time together, Dear Reader, to Google it), I find myself thinking “I live enough real life to not want to read a fictionalized version. Let’s throw down on some out-of-this-world stuff instead.”
As such, I was down for a tale of kings and dragons and magic.
Also, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I love SK’s magnum opus, The Dark Tower series. Those of us (in the minority of King’s readers) who have read it (to the end) tend to love it, especially when we see the connections in his other works. The Eyes of the Dragon shared a couple of connections, principally in the story’s (and SK’s main) antagonist: Flagg (a.k.a Walter, a.k.a Marten, etc.). So, once again, I was emphatically in.
Synopsis (from the front of the dust jacket): “A tale of archetypal heroes and sweeping adventures, of dragons and princes and evil wizards–as only Stephen King can tell it!
“The passage through the castle is dim, sensed by few and walked by only one. Flagg knows the way well. In four hundred years, he has walked it many times, in many guises, but now the passage serves its true purpose. Through the spyhole it conceals, the court magician observes King Roland–old, weak, yet still a king. Roland’s time is nearly over, though, and young Prince Peter, tall and handsome, the measure of a king in all ways, stands to inherit the realm.
“Yet a tiny mouse is enough to bring him down, a mouse that chances upon of grain of Dragon Sand behind Peter’s shelves and dies crying tears of fire and belching gray smoke. A mouse that dies as King Roland does. Flagg saw it all and smiled, for now Prince Thomas, a young boy easily swayed to Flagg’s own purposes, would rule the kingdom. But Thomas has a secret that has turned his days into nightmares and his nights into prayed-for oblivion. The last bastion of hope lies at the top of the Needle, the royal prison where Peter plans a daring escape…”
So what did I think?: I wholeheartedly enjoyed it, I’m sure that much is clear. The story moved at a good pace, and for a King novel, it was relatively short (clocking in at around 300 pages in hardcover). I particularly enjoyed the narrator, who inserted himself in more of a personal way as an observer/storyteller. As an example:
“Perhaps it was luck that saved him, or fate, or those gods he prayed to. I’ll not take a stand on the matter. I tell tales, not tea leaves, and on the subject of Dennis’s survival, I leave you to your own conclusions.” I don’t always love an insert-y narrator, but in this case it was a charming element that wasn’t distracting.
A great, quick read! I gave it 4 out of 5 because I’ve read enough books in my limited time to know how it feels to have one’s socks blown off (including from SK himself – 11/22/63 remains my fave if you’re looking for a recommendation). While my feet remained covered on this one, it still took me away, the writing was beautiful, and that’s about all I can ask for my nightly sojourn into the magic.
On that note, how ’bout we close with a passage from the book itself:
“Did they all live happily ever after?
“They did not. No one ever does, in spite of what the stories may say. They had their good days, as you do, and they had their bad days, and you know about those. They had their victories, as you do, and they had their defeats, and you know about those, too. There were times where they felt ashamed of themselves, knowing that they had not done their best, and there were times when they knew they had stood where their God had meant them to stand. All I’m trying to say is that they lived as well as they could, each and every one of them; some lived longer than others, but all lived well, and bravely, and I love them all, and am not ashamed of my love.”