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27 November 2015

The Talisman (Part 1)
Stephen King and Peter Straub
Publication Date
November 1984
Dark Fantasy

Synopsis (from Amazon)

In a terrifying trip across America, young Jack Sawyer is searching for the Talisman, the only thing that can save his dying mother. His quest takes him into the menacing Territories where violence, surprise and the titanic struggle between good and evil reach across a mythic landscape.

My thoughts

This book is a collaboration of Stephen King and American Novelist and Poet Peter Straub.  There is a Part 2 to this book ('Black House'). Part 1 gives an ending which is not a cliffhanger, and therefore can be read on it's own. I have yet to read Black House, but so I understand, whereas in Part 1 our main protagonist, Jack Sawyer, is a 12 year old boy, in Part 2 he is an adult who will have to re-visit his previous adventures. So I kind of guess that it may be helpful to have read Part 1 before going into Part 2. 

At 786 pages, this is not a quick read, but then many of King's books are about this size. (The Kindle edition has actual page numbers which is nice.) I have not read anything else of Straub's work. You would not be able to say that this was a book written by two different authors, and the story flows without an obvious difference in style.

The story is a typical 'quest' where our main protagonist (12 year old Jack Sawyer) leaves his home (as it happens, a hotel he stays with his mother) and goes in search for a particular item (a talisman), has to overcome obstacles and at the end, returns to his initial place, the hotel. There is the personal reason for Jack to find the Talisman - to save his mum's life, but, as he learns in his travels, this also has wider implications for the world. It is again a struggle between the good and the bad. 

It is also a story of a parallel world, the 'Territories' , where everyone in this, our world, seems to have a 'twinner'. As Jack will find out, his father and also his father's business partner were well aware of the Territories. 

I know that many King fans love this book, but I have mixed feelings. For some reasons, I have not taken like I do to most other of his works. Part of the problem might be that I am not a great fan of fantasy worlds. I did not always properly understand the Territories and the concept of Twinners. Are they two people, are the the same person in different worlds? How exactly does it work in the Territories?  There were certainly parts as well which I liked a lot. The concept of the Territories, a parallel world, is so interesting and has great promise.  I could often image that strange, different world and who Jack moved between the worlds. And the characters are all so wonderfully drawn out. I loved the character of wolf. Maybe I should re-read it at some stage

I occurred to me that King used the idea of a parallel world again in 22/11/63 - I absolutely loved that book and fully understood the concept there which is more time travel then parallel world.