1984 was the year I discovered Stephen King through ‘Salem’s Lot, my first King novel. But I remember my mother was a big King fan (still is) and we had arranged to get her The Eyes of the Dragon as her birthday or Xmas present.
It wasn’t your usual King story, and I think that is what caused a lot of problems for King fans upon its initial release. Now, some decades on, it’s recognized as a pit of a classic and has ties into the Dark Tower story by existing in the same reality in which that story’s hero comes from, but also for the appearance of a familiar arch-nemesis, the biggest bad in the King-universe, the Walking Dude, the Man in Black, Randall Flagg.
The story has all the trappings of a fantasy tale, with that darker lean that King gives subject matter. He wrote it initially for his kids, who at the time, couldn’t really read any of the books King wrote because of the subject matter, so this is what arose, a bedtime fairy tale that became a full-length story that delved into a fantasy world.
The tale follows a royal family, the king, Roland, and his two sons, Peter and Thomas. Roland is growing old, living off his glory days when he slew the dragon, Niner, and Flagg serves as court magician and Roland’s advisor.
Peter is in line for the throne, and Flagg sees him as a threat. Peter is good-hearted, strong, and would have no need of Flagg, which means he would most likely be sent away.
But Flagg has designs on power. So he turns his attention to the younger brother, Thomas, and concocts a plan to remove both Roland and Peter, permanently.
Outside of a couple of fantastical elements, it’s pretty much a straightforward story that even with its darker elements you could totally see reading to kids at night as part of their bedtime story.
Unfortunately, his fans didn’t care for the story or its subject matter, and before the internet came along they made their opinions known in other ways. King, however, delivered the perfect rebuttal with his 1987 book, Misery.
The Eyes of The Dragon is a quick, enjoyable read, with adventure, a dash of romance, some scary moments, fights, escapes, everything a good bedtime story should have, all combined with King’s storytelling ability.
Honestly, this one was a fun change for me. I’ve been devouring a variety of King off and on for a while, but I hadn’t read this one since I borrowed my mom’s copy back in the day. I’m eager to dive into more of his short stories soon, but there are some other piles of books that I need to get through as well.
But I do love my King.