The “Eyes” Have It
A review of “The Eyes of the Dragon”
The theme behind Stephen King’s fantasy novel “The Eyes of the Dragon” is not a new one: a good king (Roland) who is tolerated by his subjects in the kingdom of Delain; an evil sorcerer (Flagg) with an agenda of his own; two sons (Peter and Thomas) opposite in character; and a beloved queen (Sasha).
Sasha and Roland are wed not because of love but, rather, because of the traits that would make Sasha a good queen.
Roland was a great hunter and one day, after slaying a mighty dragon named Niner with his mighty arrow named Foe-Hammer, returns home to conceive his first son, Peter. Though awkward with the ways of women, Roland’s evil adviser, Flagg, convinces him that an heir is needed due to his age. Peter is the image of his mother, tall, intelligent and full of grace and charm. A few years later while giving birth to their second son Thomas, Sasha dies in childbirth by the hands of her chamber maid through the guidance of Flagg. Flagg represents the epitome of evil and demonic intervention and is an over-riding character in many of Stephen King’s novels.
Thomas develops into an avid hunter himself, following in his father’s footsteps, but no matter how hard he tries, he is constantly over-shadowed by his older brother’s achievements. Flagg uses this rivalry to become Thomas’ best friend. Behind EVERYONE’S back, Flagg assassinates Roland with Dragon Sand that burns from the inside out (that HAD to hurt). He then proceeds to frame Peter for the murder by planting evidence in Peter’s quarters. Peter is arrested and sent to the tower (the Needle) giving Thomas the throne. Here Flagg can work his evil ways to subjugate the throne to fit his own vile agendas. Five years of harboring a plan, Peter escapes in an attempt to clear his name and regain the kingdom that is rightfully his by birth.
Not to give a complete story summary, I will say that this is a step out of Stephen King’s comfort zone in the horror genre and he does a masterful job of doing so. Ranging from magic to power, King uses sibling rivalry and the blind trust of human ambition to its fullest. The imagery is astounding and fantastically believable. Unlike the horror novels that King is best known for involving the macabre and supernatural, King makes us want to believe in the triumph of good over evil.
In other King novels, there are times when King takes a long time to get to the meat of the story, setting aside many chapters to develop his characters. In some novels, this is necessary to understand the story line more in depth. This is not the case here and his characters are developed as the story proceeds. More characters are introduced as we read on and the style is such that we are allowed to make up our own minds as to whether they become our favorites or not. In other words, we are not force-fed their nuances as they pertain to the on-going scenarios. And yet, all the characters are well developed in this fantasy setting adding to, and not distracting from, the story itself.
King touches on many underlying themes which including human ambition, the naivete and gullibility of those who control power, and the susceptibility of corruption. These themes parallel our “real world” lives and draw us into a world that we can relate to on many different levels. Written more as a storyteller than an outside observer makes the narrative easy to follow.
In summation, I thoroughly enjoyed the escape provided and appreciate that King steps out of his time honored expertise to take us to a place unique to all of us.
Other books to enjoy: “The Talisman” co-written with Peter Straub
“Floating Dragon” by Peter Straub
“The Dark Tower” series by Stephen King https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dark_Tower_(series)