Review of The Talisman for the #Talismanalong
Well, the Talismanalong I started with Trish at the beginning of August has ended. We’ve all read the book. We had some good discussion on Twitter under #Talismanalong about the book. It was a lot of fun, I enjoyed reading and talking about the book with the participants. It’s always fun to do these things especially with Trish, she’s just so much fun. And, she’s due for a tiny human to come out of her at any moment, so let’s all hope that goes well.
Now, though, I guess it’s time to talk about what I thought about the actual book.
Going in, I was not overly excited to read this book. I honestly had no idea what type of story to expect as I knew very little about the book other than the fact that it existed. I think I was also colored by my “meh-ness” about King’s The Stand. And the beginning of this book did NOT allay my fears. The first 80 pages or so are rough (ie boring as ballz). I was concerned that I may have made a huge mistake. Then we are introduced to Speedy and The Territories. And the story takes off.
This book reminds me a lot of The Stand. The long, epic journey. I said before that The Talisman is The Stand as written by Neil Gaiman. Speaking of Neil Gaiman, another book that this reminds me of is American Gods. One, central “evil” character that must be defeated. Long, epic journeys, climatic final battles. Many fantastical elements. Another book this reminds me of? Odysseus by Homer. A hero must fight trial after trial on a long journey to find his way home. So, yes, this is classic storytelling by two masters of genre storytelling.
Things I liked? I said this book reminds me of The Stand a little bit, but unlike The Stand, this book has a manageable cast of characters and a much more focused story line. I didn’t feel like I was drowning in characters and plot throughout reading the book. I also love the idea and execution of The Territories. I liked the hero Jack. I liked his companion Wolf. For the most part, I think Morgan Sloat is a good villain, but he’s surprisingly not that fully developed considering the length of the story. I also actually like the final confrontations and wrap ups in this book (unlike, oh, I don’t know, THE STAND).
What didn’t I like? Again, I hate to harp on this with King, but, the story is just too damn long. This book could have edited out at least 100 pages and not really lost anything. There is A LOT of naval gazing throughout the different parts of this book. Especially towards the end. While it’s more focused than The Stand, it still needed some judicious trimming. I found “story fatigue” setting in around page 550-600 (there were 770 pages in this book). Even though I liked the book, I was sort of ready for the final act and wrap up. It really felt like it took a week to read the last 150 pages or so. But to be fair, part of that is my inability to find time to read outside of work and on weekends. With a 2 year old and an 8 month old, reading at home is a rare occurrence.
So, overall, yes, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. And that is a surprise to me. Will I read the sequel, Black House? A week ago, I was gung-ho to read it, yes. But now, I think I’ll eventually read it, but not anytime soon. Plus, the stuff I hear from people about the sequel is not exactly glowing. And I hear it has a thin connection to the Dark Tower series of which I am not a fan. So, we’ll see. But I can definitely recommend The Talisman as a good and interesting story, with good characters and a lot of imagination.
And now that I know I like this book, I definitely be reading Straub’s Shadowland sooner rather than later.
Thanks, Trish and everyone else for joining me on this Talismanalong. I had a lot of fun.