The Eyes of the Dragon
By Stephen King
The master of modern horror took a wrong turn at Albuquerque and found himself in fantasy land. This novel isn’t horror in the least, more like a lengthy fairy tale involving all of the archetypal elements: kings and queens, wizards and dragons, dungeons and dark magic.
The land of Delain is ruled by the fair, but not entirely bright, King Roland. His son Peter is scheduled to inherit the throne upon Roland’s death, but the evil wizard Flagg has other plans. He murders the king with a bit of poison and frames Peter for the crime, seeing him locked away for the rest of his life. With Peter out of the way, Roland’s younger and much more easily manipulated son Thomas becomes king, but it’s easy to see that he is really nothing more than Flagg’s puppet, being used to tear the kingdom apart brick by brick.
Peter, swearing to his innocence and vowing revenge, formulates a grand plan to escape—one that makes The Shawshank Redemption look feasible. He and his faithful cohorts on the outside are racing the clock—albeit one that runs for years—to right the wrongs before turmoil becomes the new law.
The Stand it isn’t. Reading this novel almost makes you feel like you’re being talked down to by your English teacher, reason being that it was written for younger readers—chief among them King’s daughter Naoimi and his friend/collaborator Peter Straub’s son Ben (both of whom have namesakes in the story.) The whimsical narration is off-putting at first, but isn’t so bad once you get used to it. Yet, with every turn of the page you’re expecting some great horror to be unleashed—this is a Stephen King novel, after all—but it never truly comes. The tale itself is only mildly entertaining, but King fans may want to give it a read anyway. Flagg is, after all, the premiere villain in many of King’s works, the aforementioned Stand and the Dark Tower series among them.
It’s your call.