So let me tell you a story about how I think this tale came about. Stephen King, father, writer, nearly life-long Maine resident, is putting his daughter to bed one night. She asks him to tell her a story. In comes Peter, a likeable enough boy who is destined to be king. Behind him is his younger brother, who is always in his shadow. The King, Roland – hey that name is familiar from other of my words, thinks Mr. King, and he pauses to consider if there might be a connection. Back to the matter at hand, though, for dear daughter is still waiting for her bedtime story. Peter is the always good, do nothing wrong, rightful heir to the throne of Delain. Thomas, the younger boy, is yang to Peter’s ying. The court magician, for there must always be a magician in a King’s court, is a wicked man called . . . . Flagg. Flagg? Yes, Flagg. Well, why not, he creeped us the fuck out in The Stand, let’s bring him here as the Kingdom’s Satan incarnate. Flagg is a nasty, demon sort, with all kinds of poisons, even one called dragon sand, which he uses to kill the king, and to condemn Peter to prison.
A good start to a tale, which takes nearly half the book, and is far more than could possibly be told in a one night bedtime story, I think. We are, however, talking about the master of horror, who writes thousand page tomes with a seeming ease that some of us struggle to achieve just reading the suckers. In any case, a good start. It has a fairy tale feel to it, why not make it part of the backstory to the epic length tale of the Dark Tower? We already have King Roland, and our master deceiver demon, Flagg. Whether his daughter heard the entirety of the story in narrative form, or had to wait for the book like the rest of us, I couldn’t tell you, but I can see this as a nightly tale.
I’m talking out of my ass, of course. I know no such details about where this story came from. The dedication to Mr. King’s daughter Naomi, however, set my mind working. This, and the tone of the story set it apart from the rest of King’s work. Yes, there were the short stories that tied into the history of Salem’s Lot which are also a departure in tone, but those and this novel seem to stand apart from the others in not having the usual King, blue collar sort of speech. It is also the only true classic fantasy, sword and sorcery, story that King has released to my knowledge. It could pass, most definitely, as a kid’s story. In fact, now that I know of it, I would wonder at why he chose to read the short story he had at An Evening with Harry, Carrie and Garp. Perhaps it is lost amid his attic full of writing.
The Eyes of the Dragon, a diamond in the not-so rough of King’s other works. Worth the quick read if you haven’t already.