The Eyes of the Dragon is an enormously satisfying read, from its page-turning plot to its well-crafted characters to its resonant themes of falling to and overcoming evil. Prince Peter of the Kingdom of Delain is shaping up to be one of the best-loved kings of the realm when he is framed for the gruesome murder of his father and imprisoned while his brother, the pliable Thomas, ascends to the throne. Thomas is ill-used by Flagg, the kingdom’s magician, a malignant force of ruin and destruction.
Stephen King weaves this tale together deftly, with humor, cleverness, warmth, and intelligence. He goes beyond simple fairy tale caricatures, giving real depth to the inhabitants of his kingdom. Even Thomas is painted compassionately, yet held accountable for his actions. I also appreciate that the small details of the story are important, from manners to napkins to the overwrought reaction of a boy bursting into tears at an inopportune time. Yet King gives the feeling that his story hinges on consequence, not coincidence.
Written for the upper YA reader, yet not dumbed down and not without intense moments and bad occurrences. King writes in straightforward prose that makes one sentence flow into the next; his characters and events live beyond the mere words. He also has many second-person asides to the reader that are witty and well-placed, an homage to the genre that never gets overused.
The Eyes of the Dragon is a book that I have enjoyed ever since it first came out (in fact, I still have my original hardcover edition), and will continue to reread in the future. This is a story told for the joy of storytelling, designed to bring characters and places that never existed to life.