Be sure to check out the previous posts in this series:
Are you ready for the next installment of the Great Dark Tower Re-Read? Right here and now?! (The words echo across the vast plain before you and bounce back from the granite cliffs in the distance. [maximum drama!])
If so, be prepared. For here are my thoughts on The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub. For many people, this book is their introduction to Peter Straub, one of modern horror’s most successful authors. This was not the case for me though as this was my first time for The Talisman. My first Straub book was Shadowland. (A totally awesome book, worth checking out. Maybe I’ll do a write-up on Shadowland in the future.)
What is it?!
The Talisman is a story about a teenage boy named Jack Sawyer who moves out to the east coast with his widowed mother trying to hide from Jack’s nefarious Uncle Morgan Sloat. Jack’s mother, a b-movie actress past her prime, is slowly dying of lung cancer and he learns from Parker, an elderly black amusement park repair man, that the only way he can save his mother is to go on a quest for a powerful talisman. To do this he must “flip” to an alternate reality called the territories and travel back to the west coast.
Along the way he comes across many obstacles including the mechanizations of the powerful Morgan Sloat.
The Talisman was a pretty good book. All through it you are rooting for Jack to save the day and thwart the bad guys. My favorite character of the novel, by far, is Wolf. He appears about half way through the story and becomes Jack’s companion in his adventures. Wolf is a werewolf and, in the Territories, werewolves are not evil creatures, but shepherds. The do still transform into bloodthirsty wolves under the full moon, and they are very dangerous than. Otherwise, Wolf is very kind and innocent.
Like many of King’s works, this book was way too long. I’ve only read one other book by Straub, but I’m fairly confident that the blame for the gratuitous length of the book lies on SK. There was a very large portion in the second half of the book that could have been totally cut.
I’m sure this is a controversial opinion but, this means completely cutting a fairly important character from the book: Richard Sloat. Richard is Jack’s childhood friend/cousin and Morgan’s son. He does have interesting story significance, as he creates a nice dichotomy between Morgan/Richard and Phillip(Jack’s suspiciously dead father)/Jack.
There’s some stuff that happens at the end that gives Richard’s character importance, but I feel that the book would be just as strong with Richard completely excised. This would take a good 100 pages or so off of the grand total.
Feel free to skewer my thoughts down below in the comment section.
Dark Tower Connections
So, why did I read this book as part of my Dark Tower Re-Read? Well, I’m not completely sure yet. I can see similarities between Midworld of The Dark Tower and The Territories. I’ve heard that there is more of a connection with sequel (Black House). It was still worth the read though, and would recommend it if you’ve read all of the DT books and need more of something similar.
Do you disagree with my thoughts? If so, let me know below. Let’s talk about it!