Featuring 21 charming illustrations by David Palladini, this is an adventure fantasy for young adults--or very old prepubescents--and among King's most accomplished works (though readers who groan at King's unremitting vulgarity in his adult novels will again have a few quarrels to pick). Prince Peter, 17, is the elder son of Roland, beer-drinking king of Delain who had managed to stay unwed until 50. Father Roland's not much for sex and manages it only about six times a year, with the aid of an aphrodisiac from court magician Flagg--despite the fact that his Queen Sasha was only 17 when he married her. Roland is renowned for having killed a dragon With his famed arrow Foe-Hammer and eaten its nine-chambered heart, which keeps his heroic aspect alive under his beer fat. After Sasha dies giving birth to their second son Thomas, the demonic magician Flagg, who is apparently 400 or more years old, desires chaos in the kingdom and fears that young Prince Peter, when crowned king, will bring good sense instead; and so Flagg wants the inferior, bumbling, manipulable second son Thomas to be king. With this aim in mind, he poisons King Roland with dragon sand, blames the murder on Peter and has him imprisoned in the 300-foot-tall prison called the Needle. The boy Thomas is crowned, but becomes a winebibber and beer. drinker and as round-gutted as his father. During his five years in the tower, Peter has his mother's fabulous doll-house to play with, but is secretly spinning an escape rope with threads from dinner napkins he weaves on the small doll-house loom. What Flagg does not know is that Thomas, hidden in a secret passage and looking into his father's room through the eyes of the stuffed dragon's head on the wall, saw Flagg give the king the poisoned wine. And so the time comes when Foe-Hammer must again be brought to bear on tho dragon. But which brother can actually slay Flagg? Some of King's smoothest writing and slickest effects, with the usual supercosmic horror scaled down to reasonably familiar villainy--though the sales, one assumes, will be supercosmic.