1984 ***** 380 pages
Most copies of this book bear a 1987 copyright date, but it was originally released as a limited edition in 1984, albeit with slightly different text and different artwork.
I didn't really know what to expect when I picked this one up. Many years before, I had begun going through all of Stephen King's books in order of publication, and I made it to this point before I stopped. Finally, I decided to start up again, and I devoured this book very, very quickly. I couldn't put it down! It's one of King's lesser-known and -appreciated works, and that's really a shame because I feel it's one of his absolute best! It's one of the many branches to his Dark Tower universe, but it's not really necessary to know that to appreciate for what it is: an exciting medieval adventure story about a King who is killed by his closest aide, a magician by the name of Flagg (The Stand fans are already geeking out, right?!). The murder is pinned on the King's elder son, who is sent off to prison, allowing the much more malleable younger son to take control of the kingdom, under Flagg's firm guidance. Written with impeccable flair and pacing by King, the book really plays out like a fairy tale for adults. King's narrator speaks to the reader directly, really making this book something extra special. I'm really surprised that, at the time of this review, this book has never been turned into a film. It has great potential to be a great film, and I'm anxious for the day when someone finally tackles it.