Eyes of the Dragon
Written by Stephen King
Illustrated by David Palladini
I read my first Stephen King novel at the tender age of eight years old. I snuck a copy of Firestarter off of my father’s bookshelf, and although the subject matter was a little too heavy for an eight-year-old child, I was enthralled. I’ve read a large portion of his works since then, especially his earlier works, but the book that I come back to again and again is the fantasy story that he wrote for his daughter, Naomi King, titled Eyes of the Dragon.
When I first sat down to do the book review, I realized it had been several years since I had read the story, in fact, the last time I read it was before I had moved from Alaska to Colorado. I pulled the book out of my bookshelf and reread it, cover to cover. I was not disappointed.
King Roland, the king of a country known as Delain, is a good man at heart, if not a particularly wise or strong-minded sort. He was once a great hunter, but by the time the story starts he has succumbed to middle-age and has become easily led by the court magician, a shadowy man by the name of Flagg. (Those who have read King’s other works may note that this dark and sinister villain shares his name with Randall Flagg, an evil being that haunts several of his books, most notably The Stand and The Dark Tower series.) In his fifties Roland chooses for himself a young wife who is kind, intelligent, and most importantly, not easily led. He loves her very much, and her loving influence somewhat shelters him from Flagg’s insidious plans. The royal couple have two sons that the story revolves around. The elder, Peter, takes after his mother and has the benefit of her upbringing, but when Flagg conspires to cause her death during the birth of her younger son, Thomas, who is much more like her husband, he grows up without her compassion and in the shadow of his shining elder brother. Stephen King narrates the story beautifully, allowing the point of view to shift frequently without jolting the reader out of the story, weaving all of the threads together as neatly as a loom weaving threads together. The final product is as riveting as his longer books and comes to an altogether satisfying conclusion that wraps up the story and yet allows our imaginations to wander.
This story is one of the two (the other being The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon) that I recommend both to those who already fans of Stephen King, and to those who are put off by the gore and coarse language that are frequently found in his other works. It showcases his ability to skillfully weave plotlines together and highlights his character development, giving readers a chance to develop an emotional connection with no fewer than ten characters, one of which is a superbly developed sled dog with a colorful sense of smell. While it is clearly Mr. King at work, and a thread of fear and horror is easily observed, this book is still suitable for teens, although it might be a bit too intense for the very young.