This is a tale targeted towards kids. It reads like a fairy tale. The narrator is all too present, too prominent, dropping too many hints of "oh if only so-and-so knew of the room full of such-and-suches, would it have made a difference? I'll let you decide," that might be amusing at first, but irritating after a while.
That said, I rather enjoyed this book.
Stephen King obviously had his Dark Tower characters on his mind when writing this: the land is named Delain (very similar to Roland Deschain's last name, don't you think?); the ruler is Good King Roland (no link or relation to our Roland Deschain except for the name, though); but best of all, it features Randall Flagg as the bad guy. We learn a LOT about Flagg through this tale, and for that alone I think my digression from the Dark Tower series to this book was no mistake.
In fact, reading this BEFORE The Gunslinger might be a good strategy for people who want to approach the Dark Tower indirectly: you might then have a better feel for the person with whom Roland finally palavers at the end of The Gunslinger.
But back to The Eyes of the Dragon. The plot is simple: Randall Flagg has served as advisor/magician to Good King Roland and one or two rulers before him (and that's just this iteration!), but his objective is always to induce chaos, plans that will be thwarted if Roland's first-born, Peter, takes the throne. Thomas, the second-born, is so much more flawed, malleable, corruptible. What unfolds then is what you would expect: the king is poisoned, Peter is found guilty and imprisoned for life in the tallest tower, Thomas is crowned King, and Flagg gets free reign in steadily steering the land into anarchy. Can Peter escape? Save his land? Rid Delain of Flagg? The narrator implies he can, but strings the tale out quite a bit until you find out how.
Mentioned without really being expanded on is the concept of the White, the 'good' force that works subtly counter to the Black of which Flagg is but one representative. This is something that is expounded more in The Stand, in case you were interested in what Mr King was trying to say. Do check it out too, if you haven't already.
One thing I found interesting was how Thomas was described: not that great with his studies, neither very creative nor intuitive, someone who kinda plodded along the best he knew how ... these were about the same things said of Roland Deschain. Of course, one was raised in the shadow of his never-do-wrong brother while the other had integrity, loyalty and pride beat into him from an early age, it's no wonder they turned out very different... but think about it: was Mr King experimenting with a "What if" scenario where our Roland Deschain had from early on been in the thrall of Flagg? Those who have read this recently: any opinions?
For the record, this is at least the second, if not third, time I've read this book. I'm guessing once during my college years (the 90's), at the end of my work career (mid-00's), and now.
I'll be taking a short break from rereading Stephen King because my massage therapy classes have just started up again, so I should get to reviewing stuff before class, and already get moving on assignment we've already been given. Ugh. Hopefully I'll plow through The Drawing of the Three during the MLK Jr long weekend.
Until then: happy reading!