Stephen King had written thirteen novels (not counting those by his doppleganger, Richard Bachmann) by the time he penned The Eyes of the Dragon. And in her thirteen years at that point, little Naomi King had not read a single one of them. Why would she? King’s novels might have been horror, but they were also chock full of adult things, like bills and bad marriages and relationship stuff and the odd act of violence. Besides, Naomi found werewolves and vampires and possessed cars icky.
So King sat down to write the story of two princes, Peter and Thomas, sons of Good King Roland of Delain. Peter is the oldest, the heir, and Roland’s favorite. Roland loves Thomas, too, if only because he’s bit like Roland himself, a good kid, but slow and clumsy. Thomas gets tired of standing in Peter’s shadow. Peter can do know wrong in the people’s eyes.
But then there’s Roland’s closest adviser, Flagg the magician. If he looks familiar, that’s because he wandered into our world from the world of the Dark Tower series to take advantage of a parallel timeline where the flu wiped out 90% of the human race. Yep, he’s Randall Flagg from The Stand. But that’s all in the past. Or the future. Or somewhen else. Um… Jennette? Help? Time travel stuff? Hurts my head.
Anyway, Flagg is all for causing chaos. He does this by killing Good King Roland with poison wine and framing Peter for it. All of Delain goes from ecstatic that this boy king will finally take the throne to despair that their shining king-to-be is a murderer. Thomas is elevated, and, well, Thomas isn’t really cut out for the job. He ends up letting Flagg sap all his power and drive the kingdom to the brink of civil war. But Peter? Peter is biding his time in his tower prison cell 300 feet over the castle keep. He asks for only two things: Napkins with his meals, and his mothers stunning realistic and fully functional doll house.
This is a neat, breezy story by King, clearly written with a child or early teen in mind. While more sophisticated than the average fairy tale, it has the tone of a child’s storybook without being childish. There was one scene early on that came off as a bit too adult for such a tale, wherein Roland conceives Peter. Get through that, and you spend the rest of the book wanting to put a fist through that evil grin of Flagg’s, pulling for Peter and his friends to pull off a coup. While set in the world of the Dark Tower series, the Roland here is not Roland the Gunslinger. He’s elsewhere, marching toward said Dark Tower and occasionally chasing Flagg when he’s not out trying to destroy worlds.