The Talisman


Dena recommended that I read The Talisman, by Stephen King and Peter Straub, several months ago. Like the good husband, I took her suggestion and sat down to read it. I was an early Stephen King fan. My tastes have changed over the years, but I’m still up for a good read.

On a brisk autumn day, a thirteen-year-old boy stands on the shores of the gray Atlantic, near a silent amusement park and a fading ocean resort called the Alhambra. The past has driven Jack Sawyer here: his father is gone, his mother is dying, and the world no longer makes sense. But for Jack everything is about to change. For he has been chosen to make a journey back across America–and into another realm.

One of the most influential and heralded works of fantasy ever written, The Talisman is an extraordinary novel of loyalty, awakening, terror, and mystery. Jack Sawyer, on a desperate quest to save his mother’s life, must search for a prize across an epic landscape of innocents and monsters, of incredible dangers and even more incredible truths. The prize is essential, but the journey means even more. Let the quest
begin. . . . – Publishers description

I was initially intrigued by the description of the Territories. It reminded me of Stephen King’s world of the Dark Tower. There were enough similarities to make me wonder if all of King’s worlds are inter-connected. If you are a fan of the Dark Tower series then I would recommend this book. If you’re new to Stephen King’s style of writing, then I’m hesitant to give it a thumbs-up.

It was difficult for me to really get in to this book. The first half of the book moved at a snails pace. I really had to make a conscious effort not to put it aside and convieniently forget where I put it. So with difficulty, I reached the half-way point, geographically-speaking. Jack, the main character in the book, is now half-way to his destination. I don’t have the book handy now, but I think this was somewhere close to the two-thirds mark of the paperback. And then it got good.

Sure, the first several hundred pages were slow, boring and painful to read. I am not familiar with Peter Straub’s style of writing, so I wasn’t sure if this was a handl-off point between authors. I’m not sure how the task of writing a colaborative effort such as this would be partitioned off between participants. Something had changed, though. The story began to flow, and the pace flew by at a much more enjoyable clip.

By the time the climax was approaching, I couldn’t put the book down. After all, I had paid a price to get to this point. Hours of agony and suffering spent reading through what should have been the victim of a zealous editor. I had earned the right for some satisfaction, and I wasn’t disappointed. The story finishes in what I consider typical Stephen King fashion. Things happened that you don’t expect, but in the end you’re okay with that.

If you’re a hard core Stephen King fan, then it’s worth toughing it out through the first half of the book. If you’re not, then it may not be worth it for you. The slow pace of the first two thirds of the book left a sour taste in my mouth. I’m not in a rush to read the sequel,
Black House
, after this experience.

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