Monday, 30 April 2012

Tales of Blood and Glory: The Eyes of the Dragon

Published in 1988 by Stephen King, the basic idea behind "The Eyes of the Dragon" can be summed up by the blurb on the back "Once upon a time--there was TERROR".  In other words, the novel is a mash-up between the Fairy Tale and Horror genres.  While it captures the mood of the former proficiently, it doesn't do the latter much justice since "The Eyes of the Dragon" is not scary.

One could argue that this is intentional.  Several times, the fairy-tale style made me think that the book was intended for children.  If that is true, then it's possible that King intentionally tones-down the terror.

In any case, I'm more interested in why the book is not scary.  The climax of the book occurs towards the end when Prince Peter decides to attempt a dangerous escape from his incarceration.  At the same time, the evil wizard Flagg has decided to do away with the prince once and for all, and is racing to accomplish the grisly task.

This could have been a scary scene with the proper build-up.  As we discussed before, build-up is critical in creating an atmosphere of Horror.  But, alas, the scene doesn't have the proper build-up.  We've spent the entire novel getting to know Flagg and by the time we reach this scene, he has been thoroughly demystified.  The question is raised whether he is human at all, but it all comes-off as rather superficial, since he has already shown us all his tricks.

I did enjoy the Necronomicon reference, when Flagg's spellbook is described as "written on the high, distant Plains of Leng by a madman named Alhazred".  King is apparently quite the Lovecraft fan, as he refers to him as "the twentieth century's greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale".  That said, "The Eyes of the Dragon" doesn't live up to that legacy very well.

4 comments:

  1. I love this book, but I never felt like it was trying to be a horror story, despite the marketing blurb on the back (all King's work is marketed as horror no matter what). The story is about disillusionment (just think about the scene that the title is about). I just recently picked up a cheap paperback copy to reread it (it's probably been close to 15 years since I read it originally), so maybe I'll have some more thoughts after that.

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    1. I'd love to hear them when you do. And that's a good point about the marketing. Although, why through in a Lovecraft reference if it's not meant to be Horror?

      I'm actually reading another King book which I read years ago and DID find scary "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon", so I'll probably do a post on that. Maybe a comparison with Algernon Blackwood's "Horror in the Wilderness" short stories :)

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  2. Stephen King does a great Lovecraft style story with 'N' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N.).

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