The Eyes of the Dragon is billed as both King’s only high fantasy and his only novel that could be classified as a children’s book. I wasn’t sure how successful he’d be with either of those things, but now I really wish he would write more of both. This book so radically exceeded my expectations that, even though I’ve come to passionately love King’s work, I couldn’t help but be surprised. I loved everything about this, and it’s the first King novel I’ve ever read that I could comfortably recommend to literally anyone of any age.
“He knew as well as we in our own world do that the road to hell is paved with good intentions–but he also knew that, for human beings, good intentions are sometimes all there are. Angels may be safe from damnation, but human beings are less fortunate things, and for them hell is always close.”
I love the change in voice King uses here. The presence of an omniscient narrator who makes his own personality known frequently throughout the telling of the story is so reminiscent of classic fairy tales, and it was a sweet, and very successful, decision. King’s storyteller in this book is pitch perfect and wonderfully balanced, and I wish I could read a dozen more stories told in this voice.
“I tell tales, not tea leaves.”
Character development has alway been one of King’s strengths in my opinion, and that strength was well showcased here. Peter could have easily been too perfect to be believable if King had not deftly fleshed him out well enough to come across as wholly three dimensional. Thomas could have been so easy to hate, but King managed to make him sympathetic. The supporting cast could have been cardboard cutouts just fulfilling their designated jobs, but King made sure that readers would see them as actual people. And then there’s Flagg. If you have any experience with King, you’ve probably heard the name. I won’t get too into his character and role in the book except to say that he’s absolutely terrifying.
“One of the great things about tales is how fast time may pass when not much of note is happening. Real life is never that way, and it is probably a good thing.”
The Eyes of the Dragon is a great example of classic high fantasy. This is a genre that produces such a multitude of works that many entries end up feeling derivative and predictable. However, I felt that in this book King actually did some things in the genre that I had actually never seen before. It was really refreshing. And considering the fact that this was written in 1987, I think the fact that it still feels so fresh speaks so highly of both the book and the author.
“Did they all live happily ever after?
They did not. No one ever does, in spite of what the stories may say. They had their good days, as you do, and they had their bad days, and you know about those. They had their victories, as you do, and they had their defeats, and you know about those, too. There were times when they felt ashamed of themselves, knowing that they had not done their best, and there were times when they knew they had stood where their God had meant them to stand. All I’m trying to say is that they lived as well as they could, each and every one of them; some lived longer than others, but all lived well, and bravely, and I love them all, and am not ashamed of my love.”
This is a book that I would happily read to a classroom full of students. I would gift it to fantasy fans and people who don’t usually like King’s writing. I would read The Eyes of the Dragon again in a heartbeat, and would as just quickly recommend it to almost every type of reader. I loved it.
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