Experience an Epic Adventure in Stephen King’s The Talisman
Do you know the feeling of losing yourself completely in a book? There is that one moment when everything around you suddenly vanishes. Within one moment you’re not on a crowded, sticky bus anymore. Noises and smells around you disappear, as you become part of the story that unfolds before you. From this point on, you see with the protagonist’s eyes, you hear what he hears, and you smell what he smells. Letters shape landscapes, words become images, and stories turn into experiences. Stephen King and Peter Straub create this intense sensation with his novel The Talisman.
When I look back at all the King books I’ve read -- and believe me, I’ve read many -- there is one moment, one scene, if you will, that most strongly stands out in my memory. It is a moment from The Talisman: Jack Sawyer, a thirteen-year-old boy -- his father is gone, his mother is dying -- stands on the shore of the gray Atlantic near a silent amusement park. He drinks from a mysterious flask – and wakes in an idyllic medieval world full of lush fields, strange apparatuses, and a bright blue sky. This world is called the Territories and it “holds magic like we have physics.”
Jack learns that his ability to flip between worlds is unique and that only a few others were able to do this. Among those few, he is told, was his father. Furthermore, all that happens in the Territories seems to have effects on our world – some are good, some are horribly bad. Most important, each being has its counterpart in the Territories, including Jack’s mother. In the Territories she is a queen, loved for her generosity and kindness. But meanwhile, in our world, she has become sick and evil minds have taken control of the land.
Jack’s life is about to change as he is chosen to make a journey that will take him on a search for the talisman -- an artifact that can heal the queen, free the Territories, and save his mother from her imminent death. His journey takes him across the United States and into a magical realm where he finds new friends and battles familiar foes to bring back the good in the world. His motivation is the strongest of them all: the fear of losing a loved one.
For this story, Stephen King teamed up with Bram Stoker Award-winner Peter Straub, making this not only an epic fantasy and coming-of-age adventure but also a vivid example of how perfectly two noticeably distinct voices can blend into one. So perfectly, in fact, that Straub’s colorful descriptions add to King’s astonishing characterization to create a world that a reader easily slips into. The eerie question is, however, will the reader ever return?