The Talisman (1984) Review

For my #PoetrySunday poem inspired by The Talisman click here.

Talisman1983Cover

As some of you may know from reading my album reviews, I like my albums to be a certain length. The same goes for movies, and books. As a rule the page limit is 500, and sometimes that is a stretch. There are exceptions, Graham Hancock’s Fingerprints of the Gods comes to mind. I find anything longer is full of filler, like a long movie. I’ve found another exception to add to the list. This is the first book I’ve read that had two authors. I can’t even fathom how that would work. These two authors are Stephen King and Peter Straub, and the combination of their efforts is pure genius. This isn’t horror. It’s a suspenseful tale of fantasy full of emotion called The Talisman, and it’s moved towards the top of my favorite novels list.

I never heard of this book before, nor had I heard of Peter Straub. The only Stephen King works I had read was his collection titled The Bachman Books. I’d heard of a ton of his books, he’s written so many. I told my wife I needed something new to read, and she suggested It. She left the room and came back with a thick, beat up paperback. It wasn’t It. She couldn’t find that book. Instead, she brought me The Talisman. I’m glad she did, but I wasn’t looking forward to reading it.

Regardless of the format, edition, what have you, this book is long. The version I read was 770 pages long. My first thought was it’ll take me months to read this. Yes, 770 pages, not the book I would pick up and read on my own. I would have avoided this due to its sheer size. In all seriousness this book’s width is about half of a quart mason jar. Then there’s the first 92 pages. It’s not exciting stuff. These pages set the scene give a bunch of background information. I feel asleep. I would have stopped reading this except my wife wanted me to do so and I thought she’d be happy if I did.

Had I quit, I would have missed out on a truly great experience. Not only would I have missed out on a brilliant piece of creative imagination, but an epic adventure as well. There’s a hero with a quest who must encounter, endure, and overcome a multitude of hardships along the way before it’s completed. No disrespect to Beowulf, Odysseus, Hercules, and all the other heroes in that hallowed hall, but Jack Sawyer belongs there too. He earned it, every inch of the way, and deserves his place among them.

I would have missed out on the cast of characters had I quit reading. Calling them characters is almost an insult in a way. I don’t know what else to call them, but they seem like they’re more than that. From the most important to the barely mentioned, each character feels like they have life to them. I don’t mean the huddled masses at market, or enemy horde. I mean those we meet along the way with names, faces, their own little things that make them who they are. There’s a lot of those, both on the side of good and evil.

This book introduced me to one of my new favorite “characters.” He’s a teenage werewolf named Wolf. I love Wolf, and I hope you love him as much as I do. If you’ve read this before there’s a good chance you do. If you haven’t, there’s a good chance you will once you meet him. You feel for him, at least I did. He’s innocent, but deadly. He knows he’s deadly, or can be, and goes to great lengths to protect those near and dear to him. I could go on, but it’s hard to write with tears in your eyes.

That’s another thing about this story. I know I used the word emotional. It is, and a big part of that is in the telling of the story. It’s got a good pace, nothing hurried or forced. Once the story unfolds it draws you in deeper with every page. I like to read, but I can’t read big chunks at a time. I did with this one. It wasn’t so much of a want as a need. I had to find out what would happen next. I had to know what would befall our hero, how he would get out of peril, and who he would meet next.

The lands of Skyrim came to me while I was reading this, and there’s a bit of Bully imagery as well. In a weird way this is Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn in the Twilight Zone. Most of all, it’s a must read. Just get past the first 92 pages and you’ll be fine. Be on the lookout for a wolf in bib overalls with his flock of creep.

Copyright © Drew Martin 2015

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