The Eyes of the Dragon tells the tale of King Roland and his two sons Thomas and Peter. When this book was originally released it was rejected by King’s fans as it strayed away from the horror books he was known for. After reading it, I can completely understand that. The book feels like a fairy tale.
For the first few chapters I wasn’t sure who this book was for, children or adults. It seemed like it was written for children, but the language was definitely too adult for the usual fairy tale. Swearing and sexual imagery seems out-of-place in this kind of story, and yet here it is.
The story itself feels like an old tale, something that would have been passed down through generations. The omniscient narrator urges the reader to see certain characters in certain ways, describing his own thoughts on the tale. In fairy tale tradition there is lessons to be learnt about how people act, and why they act that way. The book also delves into some of the darker emotions people feel, with jealousy and greed. Especially with Roland’s character who breaks down at one point. His screams haunting the rest of the novel.
Unlike fairy tales, this is quite a long book. Not incredibly long, but it definitely out stays its welcome. The tale takes a long time to actually get going, with a lot of set up for things that will be important later. For a large portion of the book I was left wondering why certain parts existed but it all comes together in the end. Peter playing with his late mother’s doll house seems to drag on, but it makes sense later on. I don’t think it pays off very well though. No matter how important things become, it doesn’t stop the initial set up from dragging on.
There’s quite a long section towards the end with Dennis, Ben and Naomi that drags on way too long. It didn’t need to be described in such depth. It really knocks the pace that had been building up and almost ruins the final confrontation. By the time I got there, I was losing interest and it took me a while to get back into gear for the finale.
I felt a disconnect at the beginning of the novel. Maybe it’s just getting used to the narrative style, but I found it really hard to get into. Not just because it’s slow, but the characters just weren’t interesting. I read a few chapters and really thought I should give up now as I knew I wouldn’t like it. Thankfully I didn’t, and by the half way point things had really picked up. The middle section with Peter imprisoned in The Needle was the best part of the book by far.
I don’t want to spoil anything but the locket and letter that Peter finds is chilling, and his plan to escape is brilliant. It’s fun, dark and engaging. It’s just a shame that the rest of the novel doesn’t really live up.
The main reason I read this book is because of Randall Flagg. One of the main villains throughout King’s books. After The Stand this is his second appearance. He’s a brilliant character and it’s worth reading this just for his role in the story. He manipulates and plots, but also is deeply flawed. He leads to his own downfall. In The Stand you get a sense of his character and his long history, and that’s only added to here.
It’s ambitious and has some great moments, but The Eyes of the Dragon is the weakest King book I’ve read. I wouldn’t recommend this book unless you’re a big fan of King or Randall Flagg. It’s not an essential read by any stretch of the imagination.
Thanks for reading,