THE EYES OF THE DRAGON

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.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 1986

ISBN: 0451166582

Page Count: 388

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1986

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.

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THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE

After 1,000 years of peace, whispers that “the Nameless One will return” ignite the spark that sets the world order aflame.

No, the Nameless One is not a new nickname for Voldemort. Here, evil takes the shape of fire-breathing dragons—beasts that feed off chaos and imbalance—set on destroying humankind. The leader of these creatures, the Nameless One, has been trapped in the Abyss for ages after having been severely wounded by the sword Ascalon wielded by Galian Berethnet. These events brought about the current order: Virtudom, the kingdom set up by Berethnet, is a pious society that considers all dragons evil. In the East, dragons are worshiped as gods—but not the fire-breathing type. These dragons channel the power of water and are said to be born of stars. They forge a connection with humans by taking riders. In the South, an entirely different way of thinking exists. There, a society of female mages called the Priory worships the Mother. They don’t believe that the Berethnet line, continued by generations of queens, is the sacred key to keeping the Nameless One at bay. This means he could return—and soon. “Do you not see? It is a cycle.” The one thing uniting all corners of the world is fear. Representatives of each belief system—Queen Sabran the Ninth of Virtudom, hopeful dragon rider Tané of the East, and Ead Duryan, mage of the Priory from the South—are linked by the common goal of keeping the Nameless One trapped at any cost. This world of female warriors and leaders feels natural, and while there is a “chosen one” aspect to the tale, it’s far from the main point. Shannon’s depth of imagination and worldbuilding are impressive, as this 800-pager is filled not only with legend, but also with satisfying twists that turn legend on its head. Shannon isn’t new to this game of complex storytelling. Her Bone Season novels (The Song Rising, 2017, etc.) navigate a multilayered society of clairvoyants. Here, Shannon chooses a more traditional view of magic, where light fights against dark, earth against sky, and fire against water. Through these classic pairings, an entirely fresh and addicting tale is born. Shannon may favor detailed explication over keeping a steady pace, but the epic converging of plotlines at the end is enough to forgive.

A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63557-029-8

Page Count: 848

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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