The Eyes of the Dragon
Slowly making my way through Stephen King’s bibliography, I’ve come to The Eyes of the Dragon. In reality, I should have read it some time ago since I’m trying to accomplish this feat by reading novels in the order in which they were originally published. When I was looking at the list of books, I mistakenly placed this book in 1987 instead of 1984. ’87 is when The Eyes of the Dragon was republished for a wider market.
Luckily, nothing in the novel seems to have informed anything I’ve already read from Stephen King.
I was surprised to learn that, back in the day, fans were unhappy with this book. They did not like the fact that King strayed from the horror genre for which he was best known in favor of this fantasy story that, honestly, reads a lot like a young adult novel. Please be aware that by comparing The Eyes of the Dragon to young adult fiction, I am not attempting to insult the work whatsoever. The genre works for me. I’m just surprised fans 35 years ago were unable to see the book for what it is.
In fact, in response to the negative fan reaction to The Eyes of the Dragon, King was inspired to write Misery, taking all of the obsessive fans and rolling them into one super-disturbed fan in Annie Wilkes. I think Misery is coming up in my Stephen King list… gotta check that schedule again.
No, The Eyes of the Dragon isn’t scary. But it does have a lot of moments that are thrilling, nonetheless. Taking place in the kingdom of Delain, we are introduced to a royal family that the reader comes to care about thanks to King’s ability to create memorable characters. We also come to fear (in a non-horror way) and hate the novel’s antagonist named Flagg.
If the name Flagg sounds familiar, it’s because he is a character that has popped up over and over again in the works of Stephen King. Most notably, Flagg serves as the antagonist in The Stand, where he takes the full name Randall Flagg. He is also a constant foe (or so I’m told) of Roland Deschain of The Dark Tower series.
I won’t give away spoilers to the plot here. But I do want to encourage people to pick this one up. If you’re used to Stephen King’s horror writing, you will likely be pleasantly surprised by this change of pace. And if you’ve been shying away from Stephen King under the assumption that all of his work is too scary for you to handle, give this one a chance, especially if you prefer books or movies in the vain of The Princess Bride or The Sword in the Stone.
Have you read The Eyes of the Dragon? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!