Showing posts with label Fantasy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fantasy. Show all posts

The Hedge Knight by George R.R. Martin

The Hedge Knight (The Tales of Dunk and Egg #1) by George R.R. Martin 


4.23  ·  Rating details ·  14,998 Ratings  ·  610 Reviews
A novella originally published August 25, 1998 in the Legends anthology, edited by Robert Silverberg. Set in the world of the Song of Ice and Fire series eighty-nine years before the events of the main cycle, the story relates the adventures of Dunk (eponymously called Ser Duncan the Tall) and his squire, Egg.

The Hedge Knight book one of the remarkable prequel series to A Song of Ice and Fire. The Hedge Knight focuses on Dunk a young man whose master, friend, and mentor Ser Arlan of Pennytree has recently died. Dunk finds himself at a crossroads wondering if he should become a hedge knight like Ser Arlan or join a city watch for a simpler more stable life and future. Dunk decides to be a hedge knight. Dunk the Lunk as Ser Arlan affectionately called him took the moniker Ser Duncan the Tall and enters a tournament that ends up being far more important than any person could imagine.

In the medieval setting of Westeros -about a century before Ice and Fire- Dunk, the hedge knight, aspires to be acknowledged as equal to other knights of the realm. He takes part in a tournament where renowned knights of the Seven Kingdoms, the Kingsguard and royalty (we get to see Targaryens at play) compete as well.
Amidst the jousting and the acts of bravery on the field, a minor quarrel escalates to a sentence of death, which finds the hedge knight in its center. The trial of the seven is the way things will be resolved, with unexpected results for everyone.

“A hedge knight must hold tight to his pride. Without it, he was no more than a sellsword”

“Dunk the lunk, thick as a castle wall.”

“A Hedge Knight is the truest kind of knight, Dunk. Other Knights serve the Lords who keep them, or from whom they hold their lands, but we serve where we will, for men whose causes we believe in. Every Knight swears to protect the weak, but we keep the vow the best, I think.”





Reviews


This short story is so refreshing after the marathon that is ASOIAF. When I read this the first time, I had just finished up the first 5 books in a row. I was completely exhausted and not interested in reading anything else anytime soon. About a week went by and I found my curiosity about these prequel short stories couldn't be put at bay any longer.

In The Hedge Knight, we meet Dunk and Egg and go on a journey with them to a tourney. While the original books are absolutely amazing, they can be quite overwhelming at times. In comparison, this short story was full of sunshine, happiness and rainbows. I loved getting to meet a full family of Targaryens and experience Westeros while it wasn't in the middle of war. If you have finished the ASOIAF series, this short story is a must-read!
***********************************************************************************
I have to say that comic books, which are sometimes called graphic novels now, have become more sophisticated. Writers like Moore, Gaiman and Miller, among others, have brought complex and dark realism. 
The Hedge Knight by George R.R. Martin  download or read online for free
The Hedge Knight
by George R.R. Martin

THE HEDGE KNIGHT is more of a medieval knight's tale with a great deal of enriched history to a fantasy world of great complexity.

In this tale, a knight with no lord to follow joins a tourney in the hopes of securing fame and fortune (i.e. winners in medieval tourneys sometimes got to keep the armor and horses of opponents which would be the value of a house today). He falls for a female woman who is being beat up by a man and his hirelings. After defeating them, he discovers him to be the grandson of the high king and in these regions it's death to touch such royalty.

His only hope is a trial by combat, and, in the tradition of their seven gods, there will be 7 on each side. The hedge knight must then find 6 others to fight in his name when he has absolutely no reputation.
The Hedge Knight by George R.R. Martin  download or read online for free
The Hedge Knight
by George R.R. Martin 2
If you have read neither, I would recommend the George Martin novelette first and then compare it to the comic.

Enjoy!

ARTISTIC PRESENTATION: B plus to A minus; CHARACTERS/DIALOGUE: A minus; STORY/PLOTTING/EDITING: B plus to A minus; WESTEROS FOCUS: A minus; ACTION SCENES: B to B plus; OVERALL GRADE: A minus; WHEN READ: last read mid 2011 (third time).
***********************************************************************************
I never knew how much I needed this until now!!! I have missed westeros so much and this was such a great way to see it from a different perspective and time! Dunk and Egg are the duo we deserve, I love them and their dynamic so much! This story felt so meaningful and I truly adored it, looking forward to seeing what these two get up to!!
***********************************************************************************
Perhaps, I'm a bit biased, I can admit that. I love Westeros. I love A Song of Ice and Fire. I didn't give every book five stars, so I feel I'm reasonable enough. With that being said, I loved this short story.


My initial fear when I first heard of this story was that neither Dunk nor Egg, the two protagonists, would have anything to do with the main story in ASOIAF. That turns out to be not true, so I just wanted to put that out there. A lot of Daenery's great relatives make appearances and both the protagonists are actually some pretty important characters in the fictional history of this world. So that had me all smiles throughout my read.

It started off, and it felt very predictable, though still enjoyable, though in classic Martin fashion, he kind of flips everything on it's head and takes it all in a different, and way better direction than my simple mind could have imagined.


The one flaw is that there are a lot of names and it gets hard to keep track. If you're a big nut like me, it's handy to have a google tab open so you can look at sigils and family trees and see who is related to who and all that nerdy good stuff.


I can't wait to get started on the next one.
***********************************************************************************
Having read all of Martin's Song of Fire and Ice significantly faster than he's writing new ones, and considering he doesn't seem to be making much progress with the next one: four years between the last book and the next, I was at a bit of a loose end for my Westeros fix. Luckily Martin has already published a trio of prequel short stories. Prequel is stretching the definition as this first one is set approximately 100 years before the events of A Game of Thrones but the families and names from Westerosi history all sound a little familiar – the Targaryens are on the iron throne and the Baratheons are still glory-seeking tourney addicts.

The Hedge Knight is the first story of Dunk and Egg. Dunk, or Ser Duncan the Tall as he becomes known, is a hedge knight – so called because they are knights without land or master, generally poor, who often sleep in hedges – the final act of his own master, Ser Alan of Pennytree, was to knight his squire Dunk. As an otherwise unproven knight, he wants to make his fortune so he enters the tourney lists. Egg is the young lad who tags along after him, just wanting to be his squire. It doesn't take too long to work out Egg's back story.

In true Martin style, it doesn't take too long for fights to break out and trouble to kick off. Before you know it the tourney is over and Dunk's sense of honour has led him way out of his depth and having to duel against proper knights – he could almost be a Stark. The story is self-contained – although there are already two follow on stories that feature the same characters, there's no need to worry about Martin not writing the sequel in seven years time.
***********************************************************************************
A great one-day read.
In the medieval setting of Westeros -about a century before Ice and Fire- Dunk, the hedge knight, aspires to be acknowledged as equal to other knights of the realm. He takes part in a tournament where renowned knights of the Seven Kingdoms, the Kingsguard and royalty (we get to see Targaryens at play) compete as well.
Amidst the jousting and the acts of bravery on the field, a minor quarrel escalates to a sentence of death, which finds the hedge knight in its center. The trial of the seven is the way things will be resolved, with unexpected results for everyone.

I've enjoyed it a lot and would recommend it to fans of the author, as well as to those of medieval fantasy in general. Although knowledge of the Houses' names can be helpful, the reader can easily follow the narration without it.
***********************************************************************************
I really love ASOFAI so this biased review should be taken with a pillar of salt.

Loved it. More knights of Westeros and a jousting tourney made for a great read. This is the first of three novellas about Aegon Targaryen aka Egg and his squiring for Ser Duncan a hedge knight.

Fun read and an absolute must for fans of the series. Not sure why I waited so long.
***********************************************************************************
Fans of George R. R. Martin’s most loved series, A Song of Ice and Fire, are always looking for more tales set in the world we adore so much. Being such a fan myself, The Hedge Knight was a must read.

The Tales of Dunk and Egg take place around one hundred years prior to the complicated story known as A Song of Ice and Fire. The Hedge Knight is the first of the prelude stories. These tales are not a necessity to understand the main series, but they’re a lot of fun for those fans who wish for a little bit more.

I’ll be completely honest about this story – I thought I’d be giving three stars. When the story started, I wasn’t as pulled in as I had hope to be. In fact, it took a while before the story pulled me under. However, once things started to move I found I was quickly won over. In fact, I went from strolling along to powering my way through to see how the end played out. Much like A Song of Ice and Fire, I went from ‘this is okay’ to ‘I am rather addicted’. It grabs you without you realising, pulling you in deep.

Despite being a short story, The Hedge Knight is a typical George R. R. Martin story. There is no denying the author of this work, the tell-tale trademarks being clear. I do not need to list out the George R. R. Martin trademarks – fans know what I’m talking about – and all are here in some way. Not all things are not as explicit as they are in A Song of Ice and Fire, but all the usual elements are simmering away in this little tale.

You’re guaranteed to be addicted to this little story, left wanting more Dunk and Egg tales.
***********************************************************************************
Now I get the appeal Sansa Stark feels when reading of tales from chivalrous Knights and their brave deeds, even the brutal battle scenes seems magical and romantic. With Dunk aka Ser Duncan the Tall, I get what a "True Knight" is supposed to be like, even though he's nothing more than a Hedge Knight, he is tall and handsome and brave and protects the weak and so dreamy!

The tale is based in the land of Westeros, 100 years before the tales of Ice and Fire began, when the Targaryans were the masters of the realm. Dunk is the underdog, newly made Knight in search honest work and at least one victory in a tourney. This particular tourney attracted all the noble families - Lannister, Baratheon, Dondarrion and even the Targaryen Princes. Overall it was Dunk from Fleabottom's innocence and strong belief in what a Knight should be that won him the friendship and admiration of the High Born and a very special squire.

Love this tale!!
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11970747-the-hedge-knight

The Stand by Stephen King

The Stand by Stephen King


4.34  ·  Rating details ·  480,421 Ratings  ·  14,149 Reviews
The Stand by Stephen King
This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.

And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abigail and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.

“That wasn't any act of God. That was an act of pure human fuckery.”

“Show me a man or a woman alone and I'll show you a saint. Give me two and they'll fall in love. Give me three and they'll invent the charming thing we call 'society'. Give me four and they'll build a pyramid. Give me five and they'll make one an outcast. Give me six and they'll reinvent prejudice. Give me seven and in seven years they'll reinvent warfare. Man may have been made in the image of God, but human society was made in the image of His opposite number, and is always trying to get back home.”

“No one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become. No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell. There are no maps of the change. You just come out the other side.

Or you don't.”

“The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that you were there...and still on your feet.”

“People who try hard to do the right thing always seem mad.”



 

Reviews


You know what’s really scary? Getting sick while you’re reading the first part of The Stand. Just try running a fever, going through a box of tissues and guzzling the better part of a bottle of NyQuil while Stephen King describes the grisly deaths of almost every one on Earth from a superflu. On top of feeling like crap, you'll be terrified. Bonus!

After a bio-engineered virus that acts like a revved up cold escapes from a U.S. government lab, it takes only weeks for almost all of humanity to succumb to the disease. A handful of survivors are mysteriously immune and begin having strange dreams, some of which are about a very old woman called Mother Abigail asking them to come see her. More disturbing are nightmares about a mysterious figure named Randall Flagg also known as the Dark Man or the Walkin’ Dude.

As they make their way through an America almost entirely devoid of people, the survivors begin to unite and realize that the flu was just the beginning of their problems. While some are drawn to the saintly Mother Abigail in Boulder Colorado who tells them that they have been chosen by God, others have flocked to Flagg in Las Vegas who is determined to annihilate all those who refuse to pledge their allegiance to him.

If King would have just written a book about a world destroyed by plague and a small number of people struggling in the aftermath, it probably would have been a compelling story. What sets this one apart is the supernatural element. Flagg is the embodiment of evil and chaos. He's a mysterious figure who has been giving the wrong people the push needed for them to make things worse for everyone, and he sees the plague as his chance to fulfill his own destiny as a wrecker of humanity.

And on the other side, we have God. Yep, that God. The Big Cheese himself. But this isn’t some kindly figure in a white robe with a white beard or George Burns or Morgan Freeman. This is the Old Testament God who demands obedience and worship while usually rewarding his most faithful servants with gruesome deaths.

King calls this a tale of dark Christianity in his forward, and one of the things I love about this book is that it does feel like a Biblical story, complete with contradictions and a moves-in-mysterious-ways factor. Stories don’t get much more epic than this, and King does a great job of depicting the meltdown of the world through the stories of a variety of relateable characters. (Larry Underwood remains among my favorite King creations.)

One of my few complaints is that this features a lot of King’s anti-technology themes that he’d use in several books like Cell or The Dark Tower series. We’re told repeatedly that the ‘old ways’ like trying to get the power back on in Boulder are a ‘death trip’. The good guys gather in the Rocky Mountains, but if they try to get the juice going so they won’t freeze to death in the winter, they’re somehow acting in defiance of God’s will and returning to the bad habits? Not all tech is bad tech, Mr. King. Nature is a bitch and will kill your ass quicker than the superflu.

Here’s another thing I’m not wild about. When this was published in the late ‘70s, the bean counters at King’s publishers had decided that the book as written would be too pricey in hardback and no one would pay a whopping $13 for a Stephen King hardback. So King cut about three hundred pages.

Around 1990 after it had become apparent that King could publish his shopping list as a best seller, he put those pages back in and released the uncut version. Which I’m fine with. The original stuff was cut for a financial reason, not an editorial one, and there’s some very nice bits of story added in. If King would have stopped there, we would have had a great definitive final version as originally created by the author.

Unfortunately, he seemed to catch a case of Lucasitis and decided to update the story a bit and change its original time frame from 1980 to 1990. I’m not sure why that seemed necessary to him. Yes, the book was a bit dated by then, but it was of its time. He didn’t rewrite the text (Which I’m grateful for.), but just stuck in some references to Madonna and Ronald Reagan and Spuds McKenzie.

This led to a whole bunch of anachronisms. Would students in 1990 call soldiers ’war pigs’? Someone in New York picks up a phone book to look up the number to call an ambulance instead of dialing 911? A song called Baby, Can You Dig Your Man is a huge hit? None of it quite fits together. There's also a layer of male chauvinism and lack of diversity that you can overlook in a book written in the late '70s, but seems out of place for a book set and updated for 1990.

The things that irritate me are still far outweighed by one of my favorite stories of an apocalyptic battle between good and evil.

I’m also glad to get a long overdue audio edition of this book. Great narration and 40+ hours of end of the world horror make for a damn fine listening experience.
***********************************************************************************
M-O-O-N spells spectacular!

I first read THE STAND in the early 80's. It was during the Christmas break- I lived out in the boonies with my family, and after the holiday hoopla was over -I planted myself in my favorite chair and sat there for 4 days devouring every page-(only leaving for bathroom breaks, meals and sleep).

30+ years later my reading experience was a little different. I read it with my Goodreads friend Lisa- who had the uncut version, while I had the original- I stopped and started as she caught up- there were huge amounts of messages back and forth- on the characters, the differences in editions, who we loved- who we hated, and everything and anything we could think of to discuss. It was a month long read...

...but the one thing both experiences did have in common was- I LOVED IT each time!!
At a remote U.S. Army base, a strain of influenza is accidentally released. Despite a lock down- soldier Charles Campion is able to escape with his wife and child. By the time the military is able to track his whereabouts- Campion has spread the disease around parts of Texas- triggering a pandemic which kills off 99 percent of the population.

The one percent are left in survival mode- spread out over the entire country and plagued by strange dreams about two individuals which eventually draw some to Nebraska and some to Las Vegas.
Hemingford Home, Nebraska- Is the home of Abagail Freemantle— "Mother Abagail" a 108 year- old woman who receives visions from God. She is the embodiment of good.
Las Vegas, Nevada- is where Randall Flagg has set up shop- Randall is also called The Dark Man and The Walking Dude. He lives to cause death and destruction and has supernatural powers which allow him to be human, animal or demon. He is the embodiment of evil.
King said that he "wanted to write a fantasy epic like The Lord of the Rings, only with an American setting"- and that is just what he did. THE STAND is a wonderful epic fantasy adventure about good vs evil- One that I would recommend to anybody who hasn't read it yet, and even to those who have!
***********************************************************************************
I never get tired of reading this book. It's my absolute all time favorite reads. Every once in a while I have to go back and read it again and again....and it's just as good as the first time I read it those many years ago.

1st Review

The end of the world where humanity takes a stand between good and evil.
I am a Stephen King fan and whilst I have read most of his books, The Stand has remained my all-time favorite. I read it when it was first published in 1978 and I was really happy when a longer and uncut version came out in 1990 and have since read it many times. It remains an incredible, riveting and unforgettable story. The ultimate post-apocalyptic/horror/fantasy and thought provoking novel.

The following content was provided by the publisher, giving a brief synopsis of the story and information on the 1991 uncut version.

This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.
And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides -- or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abigail -- and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.

In 1978 Stephen King published "The Stand, the novel that is now considered to be one of his finest works. But as it was first published, "The Stand was incomplete, since more than 150,000 words had been cut from the original manuscript.

Now Stephen King's apocalyptic vision of a world blasted by plague and embroiled in an elemental struggle between good and evil has been restored to its entirety. "The Stand: "The Complete And Uncut Edition includes more than five hundred pages of material previously deleted, along with new material that King added as he reworked the manuscript for a new generation. It gives us new characters and endows familiar ones with new depths. It has a new beginning and a new ending.

What emerges is a gripping work with the scope and moral complexity of a true epic.
For hundreds of thousands of fans who read "The Stand in its original version and wanted more, this new edition is Stephen King's gift. And those who are reading "The Stand for the first time will discover a triumphant and eerily plausible work of the imagination that takes on the issues that will determine our survival.
This is one book that’s left a lasting impression on me and I love picking it up and reading it all over again and again. How quickly and easily greed, corruption and playing the Hand of God can bring humanity to its knees and even with the possibility of their total extinction. That thought is not that far fetched with all the stuff that’s being done today, all in the name science. Hah!!!!!!!!The plot line which is divided into three parts/books follows the experiences of the plague survivors before, during and after the catastrophe and the roles they play in the story. It’s dark, intense, terrifying and uplifting…there’s hope, faith, religion, love, hate, fear, fate and redemption. A suspenseful and emotional build-up to the final face-off of good versus evil. There’s a meaning to everything that happens in the story – the betrayals, the dreams, death and births. There is nothing random in anything.

But it’s the realistic and deep characterization that’s astonishing. Complex and well developed characters that leap off the pages. It gives us a deeper understanding using the viewpoints of many of the characters – their back stories show the differences in the morality of humankind.
The vivid descriptions make the plot and characters so real and believable.

There are so many great characters in this story that some have left a lasting impression on me.
Stu Redman, a quiet, moral and unassuming character that inspires people to continue their fight against evil.

    “Men who find themselves late are never sure. They are all the things the civics books tell us the good citizen should be: partisans but never zealots, respecters of the facts which attend each situation but never benders of those facts, uncomfortable in positions of leadership but rarely unable to turn down a responsibility once it has been offered . . . or thrust upon them. They make the best leaders in a democracy because they are unlikely to fall in love with power.”
 **********************************************************************************
M-O-O-N. That spells “Damn, what a great book!”

I knew King had it in him, I am a fan of his brilliant 1977 haunted house thriller The Shining, but I did not expect this.

The best post apocalyptic novel ever?

Maybe, that is a broad category teaming with great work from talented writers, but King’s The Stand is an epic, genre defining work.

My friend Michael has a profile statement, something to the effect of finding our next 5 star rating. I like that sentiment, and am excited by the opportunity that our next favorite book is out there waiting to be read; a new best friend of an author to whom we’ve yet to be introduced. Here’s mine. I’m late to the party, just reading this for the first time in 2015. I think I was always a little intimidated by the length. It’s a beast, and I was a glutton for punishment reading the 1990 extended version, weighing in at a heavyweight 1153 pages. But it’s a runaway train, grabbing the reader up and taking him or her where Stephen King wants to take you.

Yes, it’s a book about a devastating plague, but also so, so much more. King weaves in an allegory about the viruses amongst us. There is also the spiritual quality of the book, King shows how we are sinners in the hands of an angry God, and that dreamers will survive – and survivors can still dream.

I could not help making a comparison with the Left Behind series, and associating Flagg to Nicholai Carpathia – though King’s characterization is far more complex and well rounded, and like Milton’s Satan, the most interesting character here is the villain. This makes me appreciate his The Gunslinger series and I want to search out Flagg and read more about him.

This is also an American epic and in its context an American eulogy. King shows us the good the bad and the ugly of what we are and what we can be. An observant reader will see references to Ursula K. LeGuin (word for world is woods), to Jim Morison, Edgar Allan Poe, Woody Guthrie, and hell even Rod McKuen.

I know Mr. King and have enjoyed many of his works and I have now been amazed by his finest.
***********************************************************************************
     The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that you were there...and still on your feet.


So I finally finished this gigantic brick. This freakin' gigantic heavy brick, and all I can say is, this is probably the best freakin' brick ever made. With a heaping 1439 pages, this book managed to hurt both my wrists, and probably injured some of my fingers. That's the price I had to pay to read this amazing novel. I never thought that I wouldn't finish this, fuck it I never even thought of putting this book down and read something else for the meantime. All I can say is, Stephen King managed to impress me again. Not that I doubted him though.

Its a typical thing for King to serve us with multiple characters with different stories, and plunge them together at some point. And as usual, some were amazing, and some were dreadfully boring unforgettable. This was also my experience while reading Needful Things, but his characters here are way better. I got an in depth description of each one, and I either loved or hated each one. That technique of King is truly remarkable. What goes best with an amazing plot? Well, freakin' amazing characters that's what. Ask me who my favorite is, and I'll probably end up describing most of them instead because I loved almost all of them.

I remember complaining how long the novel is. I've read quite a few epics, but all of them were way shorter than this. When I finished though, and pondered upon what could've been excluded, none came to mind. I believe everything happened for a reason, or let me rephrase that, everything was written for a reason. You can't really take out something from the story, because then the plot holes would reappear. The length of the novel is proportional to the enjoyment I experienced while reading this.

Once again, the characters were amazing and fully developed. I actually cared for them, and I didn't want them to die. This novel focused on the battle between good and evil, in a lengthy epic like feeling. We have Mother Abagail on the good side, and Flagg as the devil. It's King's second time to introduce a devil-like character, and the character turned out just as amazing. Flagg truly depicted a strong devil. He's really a strong character that I would love to read more about in his other novels (really hoping for a guest appearance).

Harold is the one I hated the most while reading. That pig really annoyed me. Everything he did was really annoying, and I wanted him to die at one point in the novel. Although I do have to point out that I hate him for a good reason. My hatred of him led to a better enjoyment of the novel. We all hate a character, and we want to see awful things done to them. I'm more than satisfied with the characters King created.

Lloyd and Nick were really amazing too. One is part of the dark team, and the other of the good team. I'm not gonna spoil who belongs where. All you need to know is that Nick's a kickass deaf-mute, and Lloyd's an annoying yet funny character. Tom's really cool too, despite being a retard. I didn't care for him that much in the beginning, but things started to change as I read along.

Stu and Fran's story would have to be my favorite of all the ones in the novel. Ever since the early parts of the novel, Fran's story already caught my interest, and it continued till the end. Larry Underwood's also really interesting. His pride overcoming him then more awful things happening really kept me interested in what would happen to him. I'm only going to mention those characters though, because who would want to read a spoiler and ruin their reading experience right? Those 3 are my favorites, but that doesn't mean that the others were boring. I will repeat, almost all the characters are amazing. There will obviously be a few that would stand out, and those 3 are my choice. Wait, I forgot to mention another favorite, the freakin' dog Kojak!! I always love dogs in novels. Kojak didn't disappoint!
Okay, enough feet kissing and let me get on with some negative aspects of this novel.

The back of the book states that "The survivors who remain are scared, bewildered, and in need of a leader. Two emerge - Mother Abagail, the benevolent 108-year-old woman who urges them to build a community in Boulder, Colorado; and Randall Flagg the nefarious "Dark Man", who delights in chaos and violence. Yes, both of them possess those amazing qualities, but I don't think it's right to say that both of them are the leaders of the novel. I get that people in the novel looked up to the both of then [in fear and in doubt] but neither of the two became my genuine favorite. I really liked them both, yes, but that's that. Randall's really outstanding with all the violence don't get me wrong, but Mother Abagail was presented as somewhat disgusting . Obviously opinionated, but hey, aren't all reviews opinionated?

Maybe I should've said that I had one problem, because that's all I can think of as of right now. I had problems along the novel though, but all [except the one stated above] were resolved. Major problems like plot holes and all were resolved at the end of the novel, and that's awesome. Mostly when I read a novel, the problems that I had while reading didn't get fixed. The Stand proved itself otherwise. The main problem would be that we tend to complain even if we're not yet done with the novel.

The ending's really great. I'm not going to complain anymore because I really liked it. It gave me closure, and honestly, the ending's really witty. You'll have to read it yourself, but I really liked it. I'm not gonna put it in a spoiler tag anymore, because there's no reason to do so. Just read this amazing novel and see for yourself. Once again, real witty of you King. This is why you're my favorite author.
So to wrap things up, this is now my favorite King novel. It is clearly superior to The Long Walk and Needful Things, both in length and substance. I'm not saying don't read the other two, because they are both amazing in their own ways, and I'm also recommending them. The Stand is just King's novel that had the biggest impact on me, as of now. Such a shame to say that he's my favorite author yet I believe I've read less than ten books of his, and I've only read this now. I'm planning to change that soon though, I can't wait to read more amazing novels written by King. 5/5 stars, and a worthy addition to my favorites list. A clear recommendation, and I can say that this is one of my best reads of 2014.
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/149267.The_Stand

The Once and Future King by T.H. White

The Once and Future King by T.H. White (All Editions #1 - #4)


4.08  ·  Rating details ·  83,753 Ratings  ·  3,235 Reviews
The Once and Future King by T.H. White download or read it online for free here
The Once and Future King by T.H. White
Once upon a time, a young boy called “Wart” was tutored by a magician named Merlyn in preparation for a future he couldn’t possibly imagine. A future in which he would ally himself with the greatest knights, love a legendary queen and unite a country dedicated to chivalrous values. A future that would see him crowned and known for all time as Arthur, King of the Britons.

During Arthur’s reign, the kingdom of Camelot was founded to cast enlightenment on the Dark Ages, while the knights of the Round Table embarked on many a noble quest. But Merlyn foresaw the treachery that awaited his liege: the forbidden love between Queen Guinevere and Lancelot, the wicked plots of Arthur’s half-sister Morgause, and the hatred she fostered in Mordred that would bring an end to the king’s dreams for Britain--and to the king himself.

“The bravest people are the ones who don’t mind looking like cowards.”

“The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”

“She hardly ever thought of him. He had worn a place for himself in some corner of her heart, as a sea shell, always boring against the rock, might do. The making of the place had been her pain. But now the shell was safely in the rock. It was lodged, and ground no longer.”

“We cannot build the future by avenging the past.”





Reviews


This book terrified me, on many levels. It's 667 pages long, to begin with. It's been a while since I read a serious chunkster like that (besides Harry Potter, which somehow in my mind doesn't really count...).

Besides that, I am just not a fan of "Authur" stories, despite my deep love of the Disney movie The Sword and the Stone, of course. Ever since I saw the musical "Camelot" in the theater when I was in high school, the story just didn't appeal to me. Then my book club chose this as our monthly selection and I finally decided it was time to tackle this monster.

Was it worth reading? Absolutely. This book is so much more than just Arthur and Camelot. The first section of the book is essentially the Disney movie, and that part does grab you and you love Wart so much that you keep reading just to find out how it ends for him (although, it got harder and harder to keep reading for a while there, in the middle - it got a bit slow).

White, our beloved author, is a genius, really. He's like your friend or fellow book club member, who just happened to be there, in the middle ages, and he's telling you the story with his own language and always using references to modern day concerns and people. He sometimes appears to mock them and their ways (oh, especially those blundering old knights...), other times he pities them, but mostly, I felt as though he was trying to understand them and why they made the choices they did.

The book is, to me, chiefly three different things.

First, it is a the "historical" study of England at the time, which is interesting and confusing at the same time, with many Lords and Kings and battles etc. Obviously this is a fantasy book and it's based on legend, but either way, we read a lot of political and historical stuff.

Second, much of the book is devoted to a character study of Arthur and Guinevere and Lancelot. Arthur, the imperfect, naive, thoughtful and above all, forgiving king. Guinevere, the stubborn and difficult to understand queen/mistress - White often just tells us straight out that he doesn't know why she made the choices she did. And Lancelot - the ill-made knight, the self-loathing hero of the round table who made a lot of mistakes and yet always tried his best to be moral (except where Guinevere was concerned, of course).

Thirdly, I felt like this was a very moral and philosophical book. White asks difficult questions, usually through Arthur, trying to figure out questions like: Is man inherently good? Why do we have wars and what causes them? Which do we owe more loyalty to, our family (clan) or our country? Is it better to get revenge or to forgive? How do we best create peace: through worship, through wars or through civil justice?

This book is truly a work of art. I must admit however, that as soon as the "Sword in the Stone" section of the book is over, the story was completely depressing, in every way imaginable. Nearly everyone is either deceived, deceitful, or unhappy. Bad things are constantly happening to good people and even the good people seem to be constantly making bad choices. I must also admit that it was still insanely interesting and worthwhile - and, even amid the depressing things, I found myself laughing out loud. Often I found myself pondering the idea of actions and consequences and how often our actions can lead to things in our future that we never could've imagined. My heart ached for Arthur, for what he had and for what he lost.

But, you should read it. Read it for Arthur and Sir Pellinore and for White's use of the word "chuckle-head." I'd be surprised if you regret it.
***********************************************************************************
Seriously, how do you review the pinnacle of all fantasy? 
You can argue with me, but that, in my opinion, is what The Once and Future King is. Sure, the evil enchantresses are stout and grumpy, the magical castles are made out of food, the lily maids are fat and of a certain age, and the knights in shining armor refer to one another as ‘old chap’s. Oh and did I mention that King Arthur’s nickname is ‘the Wart’?
Somehow, T.H. White takes the legend, undresses it, and gives it a new kind of dignity. Fantastical happenstance takes secondary place to human emotions and actions, noble, selfish, and ridiculous. And the narrator himself always lurks somewhere, hastening to explain himself when it seems necessary, or simply describe the king of the fishes as ‘rather American looking, like Uncle Sam.’. To some the novel- subdivided into four books- may seem big and slow-moving. But it is not a book to read in a day; nor should it be, since it concerns entire lives, whole worlds, both real and imaginary. The characters are spared no description; we know them better than we ever could have before. This is fiction at its finest.
***********************************************************************************
In case anyone is wondering: I picked this book up for a re-read because of one throwaway line in Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal . I haven't read this since high school, but I remember loving it almost giddily as a tween.

Since it's a big monster of a book, I took a steak knife to it, as I often do, and cut it in half so I could carry it about and read it on the subway without breaking my back. Here's the new cover I put on my DIY'd "vol 2," from Vice magazine.
Anyway, I have been reading this for days and days and days and days and days—exactly a month, it turns out (thanks for keeping track, Goodreads!), which is about four times longer than it takes me to read most books. I'm not at all sorry to have spent so long with it, as this book encompasses multitudes, and was just consistently enthralling the whole time. I remembered it only sketchily from high school, mostly only the first book, much of which is retold in the Disney movie The Sword in the Stone: Arthur as a boy being turned into a fish and a bird, scampering about learning lessons from comical genius klutz Merlin, who is always knitting his beard into his scarf.

All that is, of course, still there, still fun and silly and charming and delightful. But, like all good epics do, what starts as a somewhat childish fantasy story grows up as its characters do, maturing in deed and thought and even language, so that by the end it is more philosophy than slapstick, more high art and the endless search for meaning than antics and adventures. The difference between right and wrong, the search for God, love and its lapses and failures, why men fight wars, how the sins of the father are visited tenfold on the son, the impossibility of absolute justice, the very meaning of life—all these are dissected, mulled over, worked around and through over these 700 pages. Additionally, throughout, there are the most fascinating digressions: on falconry, on the food and fashion of the day, on the political landscape of the British Isles through history, on many different sorts of weapons and their uses, on all the various accessories that make up a knight's attire, on needlepoint and castle architecture and the effects of weather patterns on different birds.

And of course, over it all runs the arching taut string of the foregone conclusion: everyone knows that this story is ultimately a tragedy, that no matter how carefree young Arthur frolics as a servant-turned-fish, he will still pull the sword from the stone to be revealed as King of England, he will still marry the beautiful Guenever who will have a decades-long affair with his best friend Lancelot, he will still be seduced by his half-sister to sire the bastard who will wind up being the agent of not just Arthur's own demise, but the disintegration of the entire Round Table and all those lofty goals of chivalry and valor.

So even at its sweetest, this is a bitter tale, a beautiful awful devastation, an incredible encapsulation of human failure despite all the most noble of intentions. It's wonderful and terrible and crushing and glorious.

What a spectacular world to spend a month thrashing about in.
***********************************************************************************
“They made me see that the world was beautiful if you were beautiful, and that you couldn't get unless you gave. And you had to give without wanting to get.”
― T.H. White, The Once and Future King
I loved it and my two brats (11 & 13) absolutely enjoyed it, even if many of the jokes, the funky anachronistic blending of the Medieval with the Modern, might have floated a bit over their tiny wee heads.

Anyway, I think White perfectly captured the magic, power, fears and the joy of both youth and myth with this retelling of early Arthurian legend. White's theme of power and justice ("Might Makes Right") seem to perfectly capture the political Zeitgiest of now. Perhaps, White like Merlin was just writing through time backwards and wanted to capture the queer contradictions of Imperial Democracy in the global 21st century, but wanted to write it in the 1930s so Disney would be around to animate it (ugh) in the 60s and thus make his point resonate better in the early 21st century.

You might think a novel that basically focuses on a love-triangle (a quadrilateral if you include God), several affairs, a man's struggle between his love for a woman, love for God, love for his best friend, would not hold the interest of a 13 and an 11-year old for long, but this is T.H. White. The characters are so human, so filled with frailties, heroics, and insecurities that White could have written about cooking for 300 pages and my kids would have been rapt from page 1 to the end.

The story turns, about half-way through, solidly to Lancelot. It is impossible to understand Lancelot without looking at Arthur, Guinevere, Elaine & Galahad. And White digresses throughout TO&FK to capture these stories. The middle of the book pivots as Camelot, under Arthur's leadership, undergoes a change from physical quests (Round Table v. Might makes Right) to spiritual ones (Round Table > Grail quest). This change captures/mirrors the dynamic of Lancelot's own story (the vacillation between the physical and spiritual).

Finally, the weight of the conspiracies, the betrayals, the killings, and the expulsions are all there pushing against the King (I love when T.H. White calls Arthur - England) and his faith in man and justice. It just isn't to be. Do I need to hide the ending? Am I going to spoil the book for you? Come now, we are all mostly adults here. Camelot fails, but T.H. White explores the failure almost as beautifully as he does the magic of Camelot. He captures the magic of Camelot by focusing on the humanity of the people. He isn't satisfied with making (or keeping rather) Lancelot, King A, Guinevere, and even Mordred locked up in the stale symbols they often become. The trite shadows of type is not T.H. White's jam. He wants to humanize everybody. He wants to show the motives, the nuances of character that makes the reader LOVE these figures not because they symbolize things like bravery, chivalry, or justice ... but because they remind the reader of elements, times, moods and flaws found buried within. T.H. White started with a fantasy novel, but ended with an exploration of war, humanity, love, and hope.

Look, I'm skeptical of fantasy novels. They aren't my thing. I want literature. I want something that pushes you against the wall of your own head and dares you to think bigger. I think T.H. White was aiming for that -- and holy anachronisms - he nailed it.
***********************************************************************************
I carried a quote from this book around in my purse for decades. In my original version of the book, it is on page 111 and begins, "The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. 
You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then - to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn."

Another quote reads: "You see, one gets confused with Time, when it is like that. All one's tenses get muddled, for one thing. If you know what is going to happen to people, and not what has happened to them, it makes it difficult to prevent it happening, if you don't want it to have happened, if you see what I mean? Like drawing in a mirror."

T.H. White has an imagination large enough to stimulate the reader regardless how many times this book is read.
***********************************************************************************
A complex and multi-tiered depiction of the epic Arthurian legend. This book is unlike any other I've read either focusing on the myth or simply in terms of fantasy writing.

While the story begins with The Sword in the Stone, a novel I had already read years ago it was refreshing to re-familiarize myself with T.H. White's eccentric and unique style of portraying the character of King Arthur as a child. In fact I believe The Sword in the Stone is the deepest depiction of the childhood Arthur I have read as many other stories gloss over this. Yet it is important to understand Arthur's beginnings in order to understand his growth of character and this firstly sets T.H.White's work apart from the other tales about Arthur.

White's use of humor and his linking of the myth to the present was incredibly clever. He was in part able to both tell the tale and provide a join critique and analysis of the legend. And such a deep analysis was able to be therefore used to reflect upon the human condition, upon human beings, their wants and desires and what it is that drives them to do such acts as Guenevere in being unfaithful to Arthur. Or as Mordred desiring her as his own. It is a more effective analysis than Freud's simple conclusion that men are simple carnal beings I feel, for what it showed me is that White recognizes that yes few men are truly good but at the same time few men are truly base. It is the way they react to the events of life that makes them ignoble or even noble.

It was an incredibly deep book with so many angles that it simply astounded me. Was it a fantasy, a fairytale to enjoy with magic and well constructed characters? Was it a commentary? Was it a critique? Was it for children or for adults? Was it an analysis? Was it a collection of psychological observations? I believe that this book was all of these and yet none at the same time. It is a book that derives aspects from all of these and yet is never truly one of these alone. For here T.H.White has created a grand epic that I recommend all people read.

However, for all of its depth and magnificence I felt it was let down at times, particularly right near the end. This was majorly due to its pacing. At times it was fast and furious and at others it was slow and ponderous. It never truly was consistent. And for me this made it difficult to get into at times. I would recommend Roger Lancelyn Green's tales of Arthur instead for their pace. However T.H.White's work has a greater depth than any other Arthurian tale I have read and it is for that it is to be admired.
***********************************************************************************
I read this book about every two years. It is one of my absolute favorites. The stories and the characters are so well-crafted that I can read it over-and-over time and again with just as much pleasure as the first time.
This novel is actually divided into four 'books' within itself, and while you can read the four books out of order, it really is meant to be read from front to back.
The first book, "The Sword In The Stone", is much like the Disney animated movie that was adapted from it. There are a few scenes in the movie which are not in the book, and quite a bit in the book which is not in the movie, but the overall flavor is the same, and the essence of the story is there. The main thing lacking from the movie, which is quite important in the novel, is that Merlin is teaching Arthur (Wart) about the ways of humanity, civilization, and society, so that when he becomes the King he will not just continue with things as they have been, but learn to reason and think for himself, to try his best to make the world a better place. These lessons are referred to again and again later in the novel. This first book has far more magic and fairy-tale qualities than any of the rest of the book.
The second book is called "The Queen of Air and Darkness", and primarily has to do with Arthur's nephews from his half-sister, Morgause, and ends with Morgause, not knowing that Arthur is her half-brother, bewitching him and seducing him to give her a child. This child, Mordred, is the essence of fate of Arthur and what makes this novel such a tragedy. White reveals this information as well, and knowing it here does not spoil the remainder of the book in anyway. This second book is one of the shortest of the four.
The third book is easily my favorite and is called "The Ill-Made Knight". It is the story of Sir Lancelot. This portion of the novel (and many smaller pieces of it) are where a great many Hollywood movies pull their King Arthur and Lancelot material from, only they usually get it all wrong. Lancelot, in this book, is the greatest knight in the world, though he is quite ugly - not the sexy and charming knight as is always portrayed in the movies. His face is often compared to a gargoyle. I believe this is quite important. It helps the reader to better understand his relationship with Queen Guenevere ("Jenny") and to understand that the Queen does not have this lifelong affair with her husband's best friend simply because he is charming and handsome and the best knight in the world. The character of Lancelot (as are Arthur and Guenevere) is so richly charactered. His struggles with his faith and humanity, and how those play against his love for his best friend's wife, are his lifelong struggles. Lancelot is shown to be an honest person, of the truest sense, even though he lives this lifelong struggle of adultery with his best friend's wife. The love triangle between Lancelot, Guenevere, and Arthur (and Qudrangle with God, as White often represents it) is the heart of this book, though the book really focuses on Lancelot's internal struggles. This book also serves to explore Arthur's attempts at removing the "Might Is Right" mentality of the Middle Ages, and gives us the Quest for the Holy Grail stories. This book, along with the first book, represents the bulk of this novel's content.
The last book, "A Candle In The Wind", brings together all the elements of Arthur's tragedy. The irony in this book is how Arthur's own new system of "justice" is used against him bring to light (publicly) the affair between Lancelot and Guenever.
This novel is a wonderful exploration of humanity, society, and civilization, and a beautiful fairy tale tragedy.
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43545.The_Once_and_Future_King, www.ebookstoreal.blogspot.com

IT by Stephen King

IT - A Novel by Stephen King


4.19  ·  Rating details ·  505,427 Ratings  ·  13,548 Reviews
IT by Stephen King download or read it online for free here
IT by Stephen King
To the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry, Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered for the most part. A good place to live.

It was the children who saw - and felt - what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one's deepest dread. Sometimes IT reached up, seizing, tearing, killing . . .

The adults, knowing better, knew nothing.

Time passed and the children grew up, moved away. The horror of IT was deep-buried, wrapped in forgetfulness. Until they were called back, once more to confront IT as IT stirred and coiled in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality.

“We lie best when we lie to ourselves.”

“Your hair is winter fire
January embers
My heart burns there, too.”


“Maybe there aren't any such things as good friends or bad friends - maybe there are just friends, people who stand by you when you're hurt and who help you feel not so lonely. Maybe they're always worth being scared for, and hoping for, and living for. Maybe worth dying for too, if that's what has to be. No good friends. No bad friends. Only people you want, need to be with; people who build their houses in your heart.”

“Calling it a simple schoolgirl crush was like saying a Rolls-Royce was a vehicle with four wheels, something like a hay-wagon. She did not giggle wildly and blush when she saw him, nor did she chalk his name on trees or write it on the walls of the Kissing Bridge. She simply lived with his face in her heart all the time, a kind of sweet, hurtful ache. She would have died for him..”



Reviews


The most important things are the hardest things to say, because words diminish them...

Some time ago the wise bald (or white) heads stationed at various universities came to an agreement that a literary form, commonly known as the novel, is dead - fewer and fewer works of any significance are written each year. Of course, one must understand the requirements the wise gentlemen expect of a novel of worth: it would be good if the writer would include some "aesthetic dignity" by including as much allusions and connections to other previous works of literature - consciously, that is. The language must also be exquisite; preferably obsure and as incomprehensible as possible, drawing from earlier works of worth and including metaphors and allusions to them. If the author by any chance happens to include a plot in his work, there is a good percentage of possibility that his work will be deemed unworthy, and forever excluded by the adacemia.
Or at least as long as these wise gentlemen live.
Of course, the reader is not expected to understand, not to mention enjoy the work of worth - no one reads anymore, the wise men would say; people read rubbish like Danielle Steel when Bold & Beautiful is not on the TV. And, by God, no such novel of worth can ever be popular - after all, the intelligence level required to appreciate it is apparently not met by the 90% of world population.
A literary figure who is as popular and appreciated like The Beatles? Whose work is admired by thousands of people? And the possibility that these people might learn something from it? That is simply not possible - the wise heads mutter in unison - that is simply not possible! Ask people who know!
Ask us!

History, as we know it, has a nasty habit of repeating itself - though in this case something good might actually come out of it. Writers have been criticized before - most notably Twain and Dickens - and yet, their work is still read and loved by whole generations of readers. Their fiction is taught in schools. Huckleberry Finn has been deemed as vulgar and impropable, much od Dickens's work was described as overtly sentimental, but it prevailed - which can't be said about those who concerned themselved with being the so-called "Arbiters of Literature". In the end, they couldn't grind the knives because they weren't theirs to wield.
The bones of those who tried to define "literature" perished; the works they so often tried to banish did not. No one remembers (or cares) about those who tried to defy the power of Twain or Dickens; they are immortal through their works.
People perish; books do not. No one cares about the boy's club of the literati, who cry out words of rage from the ivory tower, instead of helping people understand the joy of reading, understanding and believing. The main principle of art is to evoke; the problem is, not many of the educated seem to understand that even simple things can evoke great emotions. But they too will go down in history without leaving any mark on it, forgotten and alone; and I believe that there will be a lot of bodies turning in their graves when some titles enter the school curriculum.

"IT" by all means, is not a simple novel. To classify it as a "horror" story is the same as saying that "Moby Dick" is a very long manual on whaling. To say that it is all about the monster is to say that the whale is the villain of the piece.

We all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest
fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves.
-Robert McCammon

Although vulnerable and physically weak, two factors that make them perfect victims, children posess strenght that most adults had lost in the painful process of maturing - the strenght of imagination. A child feels and experiences emotions much more intensely than an adult, but their unique imaginative capacity allows it to cope with the seemingly impropable much more efficiently. Hence when in 'Salem's Lot an adult faces a vampire, he fells down dead from a heart attack. When a child faces one, he is able to go to sleep ten minutes later. As King puts it, "Such is the difference between men and boys".

King has been depicting children throughout his whole career, and his child characters have subsequently grown older, along with his own children. "IT" is in my opinion his best novel with child protagonists; his most elaborate, complex one. It's also one of his longest, if not the longest.
The lenght is appropriate, because of the theme: After all, it deals with childhood. Childhood defies Time; a day can last forever, and the summers are endless. And then we grow up, all these years pass, just like a blink.

Kids are bent. They think around corners. But starting at roughly age eight, when childhood's second great era begins, the kinks begin to straighten out, one by one. The boundaries of thought and vision begin to close down to a tunnel as we gear up to get along.
-Stephen King, Danse Macabre

Children also posess another one of the invaluable assets that most adults strive to grasp, and it still seeps through their fingers, like sand: Time. Children experience the passing of time differently not because time actually slows down for them (that would be a neat thing indeed) but because they occupy a vastly different social position than that of an average adult. Most adults are forced to work and take care of their families, offspring included. Their imagination is dimmed by the countless hours spent on labor, and for most it never really comes back...the disilusions of experience push it farther abd farther down in the dungeons of the mind, until we finally forget that it was even there in the first place.
Until we forget what we are possible of...what adventures we can create, what worlds and realms, completely out of the whole cloth.
When you are a child the hours lazily pass by, the only important matter is to get home from school and after throwing the backpack in a corner going to get your friends and hanging out with them till dinner...and then go hang out with them some more.

The imagination is an eye, a marvelous third eye that floats free. As children, that eye sees with 20/20 clarity. As we grow older, its vision begins to dim . . . and one day the guy at the door lets you into the bar without asking to see any ID and that's it for you, Cholly; your hat is over the windmill. It's in your eyes. Something in your eyes. Check them out in the mirror and tell me if I'm wrong.
The job of the fantasy writer, or the horror writer, is to bust the walls of that tunnel vision wide for a little while; to provide a single powerful spectacle for that third eye. The job of the fantasy-horror writer is to make you, for a little while, a child again.

Most children experience more during one summer vacation than some adults throughout their whole life; They have their precious innocence, they haven't been spoiled by work, by taxes, by bills and other things that each of us has to face at some point in life. There is always food in the fridge, and there is always roof over the head; and if there is not, there is always hope that there eventually will be, and friends that help to keep it.
Children do more and see more because they can; when school ends, the day is theirs. Their schedule is not as strict as that of an adult; their duties not as responsible. Therefore, they do not have to trouble themselves with money and shelter, and even if they do they are easily able to push these matters away and concentrate completely on what they are doing right here and now.
With little breaks for homework and chores children can spend the whole day playing make-believe with their precious friends, and sometimes the boundaries between the real and the imagined become thin, and sometimes they vanish altogether.
Sometimes their thoughts take shapes...and sometimes their fears do too. Sometimes they joy is almost tangible...and sometimes the boogeymen come out of the closet.
And sometimes they are real.

"IT" is a story of a group of children who are not among the most popular, strongest or smartest; a tale about the group of seven friends living in Derry, Maine in 1958. They form the self-called "losers" club and encounter a horrible, awesome force lurking in their hometown...a force feeding on fear and devouring young children. A force that adults do not seem to see; a force that appears as a clown, holding a hand full of baloons.
The seven children all have one thing in common: they encountered IT. They had all escaped...and that one summer of 58, the seven friends have confronted and defeated IT.
Or so they had thought.
28 years later a young homosexual is thrown off a bridge in Derry...it seems like a classic, clear case of homophobia, but the testimony of one of the witnesses changes everything.
He claims he has seen a clown under the bridge...a clown and a cloud of balloons.
Mike Hanlon, the sole member of the losers who remained in Derry calls the others and reminds them of the promise they had made all these years ago...a promise sealed in blood. A vow to return if IT wasn't dead. If IT will come back. And apparently, IT has.
Can they face IT again? Can they go back to the horror they have long forgotten?
They faced the terror as children. It was their time to take action, and they managed to fight it. Now they are all grown-up...but it is their time,too.
Will the monster be bested...or will IT FEED?

"IT" is composed of two nonlinear narratives. The first is the story of 1958, where we meet the children and they first encounter IT; King effortlesly interleaves this timeline with the story of 1985, where the adults return to Derry to fight IT, basing on research that has been done on the subject and their returning memories. IT avoids the problems of most other lenghty books: plot threads that go nowhere. Each of them is important, and only adds to the suspense and builds up to the shattering climax.

If there is a thing which places King above most other writers, it certainly is his great understandning of adolescence. Few others manage to write so vividly and convinclingly about childhood and coming of age.
The unquestionably hard time of growing up - school, bullies, parents, first crushes - they are all here, and the reader feels as if he himself was experiencing them. King allowed me to re-live my past again; I wasn't around in 1958, but if I were I would undoubtedly be one of the boys. It is truly an impressive experience to read how King builds his characters and the world they live in.
Which of course includes stormdrains...which might be empty, but then they might be not.

IT also manages to adress important social topics: racism, prejudice, domestic abuse. But most importantly it is a story about friendship and childhood: How it irrevocably binds people together and affect their lives. About the power of memory and imagination; about the terror of the familiar world which hides many secrets around the corners and down in the sewers. It's a study of children facing the uncanny, and overcoming their greatest fear: the fear of being alone in fright.
IT is a story of seven friends, each different, each indispensable and irreplaceable.
stuttering Bill Denbrough, the unlikely group leader;
Ben Hansocom, an overweight boy, with a talent for architecture;
Riche Tozier, the brilliant witty boy of many voices;
Mike Hanlon, the black kid who comes to the group to find acceptance and finds it;
Eddie Kaspbrak, the asthmatic and fragile boy who finds within the group a thing he has never dreamed of - courage;
Stan Uris, a sensible boy who brings understanding;
and Beverly March, the sole girl in the group, an redhead who is both sweet and tough, and helps the boys in most dire of moments.

King has proven himself earlier to be capable of producing an epic narrative (The Stand in 1978), but I think that IT is equal to - or even surpasses - the story of the plague.
This is a brilliant novel, beautifully told in crisp, clear prose, with truly unforgettable characters and situations. It is the essence of good fiction; the truth inside the lie. King knows his way around the corners; and has that undefiniable look in the eye, the dreamy look of a child. His words are the best set of toys he ever had; and he's generous enough to share them with us. And when he's showing us how his trains travel along the tracks of his imagination and where they go to, we won't dare to blink because we could miss a minute of the experience...even when the carriage passes through some dark tunnels.

And if it is the work of an "inadequate writer", a producer of "penny dreadfuls", without any "aesthetic value" or other high-flown pretentious gibberish babbled by people who would most likely want to cast Stephen King and his readers to hell for destroying the image of "Literary Reader"?
Like Huck Finn, I'd shout loud "All right, then, I'll GO to hell!"
Literary Heaven might have a better climate; but Literary Hell sure has better company.
***********************************************************************************
 You can't be clowning about IT!!!


THOSE TERRIFYING CLOWNS

It was easier to be brave when you were someone else.

It's kinda..."funny" how such characters, the clowns, that they are supposed to make us laugh, and not matter that, you can find just too much examples of "evil clowns", many from fantasy but even at least one from horrific reality, that you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley...or any place at all!!!

The Joker, Stitches, Homie from The Simpsons, Punchinello from Dean Koontz's Life Expectancy, The alien clowns from Killer Klowns from Outer Space movie, Doctor Who's Robot Clowns, Spawn's Violator, Rob Zombie's Captain Spaulding, Fucko from the Scary or Die film, The Clown Doll from the Amusement film, also the quite recently Twisty from the Fourth Season of American Horror Story, and even, from real life, the serial killer John Wayne Gacy aka The Killer Clown.

Even, while not terrifying, but indeed quite annoying, there is Binky from Garfield cartoons.

And those are only the examples that came easier to my mind and that I watched or read about at some point.

So, why society is so inclined to accept and being really scared of a kind of character that was supposed to make us laugh? Of course, if they are chasing us with butcher knives, that helps to input the scary factor, but be honest, even in the first moment that you watch them, before they would do anything nasty, you are already scared with them. They look terrifying!

Just like the one that it's breathing behind you right now...
 THE POWER OF LIES

We lie best when we lie to ourselves.

Sorry for the lie on the last line of the previous section. But it was just to introduce the most powerful element of this novel...

...the lies.

I think that Stephen King, showed us how powerful can be the lies.

The Losers Club were lying themselves pretending that nothing unusual happened on their childhoods. Even some of them were keep lying to themselves that their adult lives were okay. Lying in such powerful way that their memories are fractured.

The adult people of the town of Derry were lying themselves too about the sexual preferences of some of their fellow neighbours.

The town's Police officers are lying on their reports.

Some moms were lying that their children had some illness.

Pennywise is lying about ITs own real appearance to everybody.

Lies, lies, lies!

Some of us prefer to lie ourselves than facing our lives.

The temptation of lying and creating false "realities" instead of dealing with the harsh truths.

Lying ourselves instead of facing the real monsters in our lives.

Even sometimes, lying ourselves that we haven't any other option than to deal with the monsters alone...

...when there are people around us willing to help us, if we just tell the truth.

But telling the truth about our problems, many times is even scarier than the lies.

All of us float...

...between lies and truths.
***********************************************************************************
WHAT A RIDE
First off, I'd like to start out by saying I DON'T NORMALLY LIKE STEPHEN KING. If you look at the other books I've read so far (Carrie, The Shining, The Gunslinger, and Different Seasons), they have all been rated 3 stars or less. Yet somehow, this book really spoke to me. I will also say that the reason I picked this up in the first place was because of the new movie adaptation, which was SUPER GREAT, but also super different from the book in many ways. I'm so glad I decided to pick up the book though, so thank you movie for making that happen!

The last 50 or so pages dragged a bit for me, but all in all I loved pretty much everything about this book. The plot was intriguing, and while it was a pretty slow book overall (and over 1100 pages at that!) I never found myself getting bored or sick of reading it. The characters were really well fleshed out, and by the end of the book they all felt like close friends.

I've heard many people complain about the sort of non-linear narrative, saying it's confusing, but I thought it was perfect for this book! The past and present sort of meld together seamlessly, and it was very artistic and added a lot to the story for me. I also thought it was neat how in the last part of the book, sometimes it wasn't entirely clear whether or not you were reading about the past or the present, but it still made sense somehow.

Lastly, I love how Stephen King deals with the idea of fear and how it can become a physical thing. I've also just recently watched The Mist where a similar idea exists, and I think it really adds a new level of terror! On the surface this book seems like it's just about a clown running around killing children, but really it's about a seemingly all-powerful being that feeds off the fear of Derry, and boy is Derry full of fear. OH man it's so freaky, but in a more surreal way than I expected. So I will say if you're wary of picking up this book because you think it will be full of scary stuff, I'd say don't worry; the new movie is scarier (and even then, it's mostly just bloody).

I want to say EVERYONE PLEASE READ THIS but at the same time I know it's definitely not for everybody. It's full of swearing, bullying, racism, homophobia, sex, domestic/child abuse, and plenty of blood and guts to go around, but all of those things had a purpose and added to the theme of fear and how it affects people. Like I said though... Not for everybody. lol.
***********************************************************************************
Be true, be brave, stand

I'm astonished, what a book!

We all float...

You want scary? Pennywise is here and he'll scare the be-Jesus out of you every other page. Pennywise made an entire generation scared of clowns when the film came out, kinda topical now that all these assholes are roaming the streets in clown outfits. Suffice to say I'm extra scared to go for a walk!

Above all, the best thing about this book is that it's wonderful. King manages to capture the essence of childhood and what it means to have a close group of friends. It's quite similar to Boy's Life in that respect.

I was a tad reluctant to read this having watched the film and due to the 1376 pages (which took me over a month to read!!) but it was absolutely worth it. The ending, I think is better and there is, naturally, more story.

The way it's written also highlights how talented a writer King is. He seemlessly jumps from kids to adults throughout. I doubt anyone could have pulled this off as clearly and as beautifully as King does.

Although genuinely horrifying, this book captures childhood wonder perfectly and receives all the stars. King at his very best, I know it's a bit of a doorstop but it's worth it, trust me!

He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/830502.It

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Stephen King - The Shining 02 - Doctor Sleep


4.1  ·  Rating details ·  118,908 Ratings  ·  13,819 Reviews
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King download or read it online for free here
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special 12-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless - mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky 12-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the "steam" that children with the "shining" produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father's legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant "shining" power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes "Doctor Sleep."

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan's own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra's soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of hyper-devoted fans of The Shining and wildly satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

“FEAR stands for fuck everything and run.”

“There came a time when you realized that moving on was pointless. That you took yourself with you wherever you went.”

“The good thing about being old, is you don’t have to worry about dying young.”

“Life was a wheel, its only job was to turn, and it always came back to where it started.”



Reviews


Get ready. If I can make just one recommendation: whether you're a longtime King fan or fairly new to his stuff, it wouldn't be the worst thing to read The Shining before you get your hands on Doctor Sleep. 
Seasoned fans know that the movie, while engrossing in its own right, is very different in many ways, and doesn't even begin to plumb the psychological depths that the book does. You could read and love Doctor Sleep without doing so, but I think people's experiences of this sequel will only be enriched by first checking out one of the mothers of all horror novels.
***********************************************************************************
A sequel, huh? I didn't feel much for Danny when I was going through The Shining since Jack Torrance pretty much had me by the balls, but I guess - this being a Stephen King book - I can give it a try.

Oh, who am I kidding?
***********************************************************************************
There is a boy (now a man) a girl, a band of baddies with a charismatic leader, a coalition of the willing, battles to be fought, supernatural elements and magical powers. Stephen King was at this long before Harry Potter lived under the stairs. He has a preternatural (not to say supernatural) talent for writing kids, and can keep you turning pages, losing sleep, and getting back late to work from your lunch breaks.

We will presume for the purposes of this review that you have read, or at least seen one version of The Shining. If you have not, read no further, as there are details here that would be considered spoilerish were they to appear in a review of that book. And if you have not read The Shining you should probably do so before taking on Doctor Sleep, a sequel. Ok, everyone here has read The Shining, yes? All right, but we are using the honor system here, and do not want to ruin the fun of reading that one for anyone. So, as long as you’re sure…

At the end of The Shining, three people survive the carnage, Danny Torrance, a five year old with a special gift, Wendy Torrance, Danny’s mother and newly widowed wife of the late Jack Torrance, and Dick Halloran, an employee of The Overlook and possessor of a gift like Danny’s, one that allowed him to hear Danny’s psychic 911 call and return from his home in Florida in time to do something about it. What happened next?
King does not typically do sequels, if one does not count books that are part of a planned series, but

    Every now and then somebody would ask, ‘Whatever happened to Danny?’ I used to joke around and say, ‘He married Charlie McGee from Firestarter and they had these amazing kids!’ But I did sort of wonder about it. – (from EW)

One of the central features of The Shining was Jack’s Torrance’s battle with alcoholism. As with the real world, King’s fictional realm notes that alcoholism runs in families. And one of the criticisms of The Shining was that the possibility of Jack considering getting some help from AA is never even raised. If King has ever considered that to have been an oversight, I have not seen that interview. But it is clear that he has given the matter some thought.

    Jack Torrance never tries Alcoholics Anonymous. That is never even mentioned in "The Shining." He has what they call white-knuckle sobriety. He's doing it all by himself. So, I wondered what it would be like to see Danny first as an alcoholic, and then see him in AA. (from an NPR Interview)

It gives nothing away to let you know that Danny is a true Torrance. Not only does he self-medicate to quiet the terrors that still haunt him, he is far from the best person he can be.

    I knew if I did this sequel I’d have to try to put together some of the same elements, but at the same time I didn’t want to make it too similar. I didn’t want to make Danny a grown up with kids of his own, and try to replicate that whole losing-your-temper-because-you’re-drunk thing. But I did think to myself: ‘Not only alcoholism can be a family disease, but rage can be a family disease.’ You find that the guys who abuse their children were abused themselves as kids. That certainly fit Danny as I knew him. – from EW

All SK novels require a baddie, or a set of them. No disappointment here. King has again succeeded in taking the ordinary and making it horrifying.

    Driving back and forth from Maine to Florida, which I do twice a year, I’m always seeing all these recreational vehicles — the bounders in the Winnebagos. I always think to myself, ‘Who is in those things?’ You pass them a thousand times at rest stops. They’re always the ones wearing the shirts that say ‘God Does Not Deduct From a Lifespan Time Spent Fishing.’ They’re always lined up at the McDonald’s, slowing the whole line down. And I always thought to myself, ‘There’s something really sinister about those people because they’re so unobtrusive, yet so pervasive.’ I just wanted to use that. It would be the perfect way to travel around America and be unobtrusive if you were really some sort of awful creature. – from EW

This wandering band call themselves The True Knot. They feed on the essence of those gifted with the sort of talent people like Danny possess. It provides them with extraordinary longevity, but as with their Transylvanian counterparts, the need is ongoing and the supply is limited. Like right-wing politicians they are more than happy to gorge on the pain of others and are shown here feasting on the spirits set adrift on 9/11. The usual condiments for this substance they call steam will not do. The taste and benefit is enhanced, however, if their victims endure extreme and prolonged torture. Does Ted Cruz drive a Winnebago? King gives the members Damon Runyon-esque names, like Crow Daddy, Steamboat Steve and Tommy the Truck.

And what of our young heroine? Abra is born with a shining of prodigious proportions. (btw, the name Abra was inspired by Abra Bacon, a character in East of Eden) She manages to send out a signal even when she is newly arrived. She’s a good kid, despite scaring her parents on occasion with tricks like making all the silverware in the kitchen take to the air, or causing the odd earthquake when she does a mental Bruce (or if you prefer, David) Banner. Don’t make her angry. You wouldn’t like her when she’s angry. Bad-ass teen girl power fuh shoo-uh. But, just as Danny needed Dick Hallorann and Tony, Abra needs help as well. That she and Danny will team up is a foregone conclusion.

As for Danny, the shining never left him, despite his attempts to wipe it out with spirits of a different sort. But he finds the help he needs and manages to put his talent to good use. He works in a hospice, the Helen Rivington House, in Frazier, NH, easing the transition for those near death, with the assistance of a resident feline, and earning himself the name Doctor Sleep, which also serves to remind us of what his parents called him.

    …It is this moment of transition that Doctor Sleep deals with and the idea, like so many of King's, came from an incidental story in a newspaper. This one was about "a cat in a hospice that knows when people are going to die. He would go into that patient's room and curl up next to them. And I thought, that's a good advertisement for death, for the emissary of death. I thought, 'I can make Dan the human equivalent of that cat, and call him Doctor Sleep.' There was the book." – from an interview in The Guardian

King has a bit of fun, naming the cat Azzie, short for Azreel, the archangel of death. Cute.

What else do you need, really? Dark vs light, colorful baddies vs our everyman and everygirl. And that is indeed enough. But it is not all that King uses. He gives us a look at how people can really help people overcome, or at least handle their problems. When asked, in the NPR interview, whether his AA depictions were from personal experience, King says that the second part of AA stands for Anonymous, so he declined to offer a yes or no, however

    You could say, having read these two books and knowing that I was a very heavy drinker at the time that I wrote "The Shining," and I haven't had a drink in about 25 years now - you could draw certain conclusions from that…I've done a lot of personal research in these subjects. - from NPR interview

AA figures very large in this story, is central really. And the wisdom one can find in AA permeates the novel, from the importance of recognizing that we need help from others, to accepting our past and dealing with it, a very strong, serious element.

King sets the time of the events by referring to external realities, like who the president is, calls on contemporary cultural references, such as a mention of the Sons of Anarchy and a Hank Wiliams Jr song. He also mentions a variety of other writers in his travels, some approvingly, (John Sandford, George Seferis, Bernard Malamud, Bill Wilson) some not so much (the authors of the Twilight and Hunger Games series, and Dean Koontz and Lisa Gardner, although he may merely be playing with the latter two). He also drops in an Easter egg reference to Salem’s Lot and make two references (that I caught anyway) to his son, Joe’s, imagined world from Joe’s book, NOS4A2.

It has been my experience with reading Stephen King that his conclusions sometimes offer a poor partner to the journey one takes in reaching them. That is much less the case here. The ending is not an alien spider disguised as Tim Curry with bad fashion sense or alien young playing with humans in a ham-fisted manner. And the journey is indeed fun. But I had some gripes. King gives Dick Hallorann a cameo here, which was fine, and the strongest of those. Tony returns for a look-see but goes alarmingly quiet at crucial moments. We could have used a lot more about Tony other than the weak explanation that is offered near the end. If the True Knot are so bad-ass, how come there are so few of them? There is an explanation offered of prey-predator stability of numbers, but I found that unpersuasive. And why the hell introduce. This is one that actively irked.

Sequels present a danger. One of the things that is stimulating about any book, any story is newness. That is why most sequels are not as popular as their predecessors. It is hard to avoid a been-there-done-that problem when working atop existing material. The next story in line is unlikely to retain the sparkle, the shine of what went before. Given the constraints, Doctor Sleep fares better than most as a follow-on. There is enough distance in the story from the events of the past, and little enough overlap with those characters that the story seems fresh. When events from The Shining are mentioned, they do inform the current action and do not distract much. In fact there could have been more of that. So, in that way, this is a very nice addition. There is another element involved. Any event, any activity, is a product of the thing itself and of the perspective from which we view or participate in it. I read The Shining many years ago. I was an adult then, in my late twenties, and remember it as a VERY SCARY story. I have not come across much in horror lit that is still scary in that way, in the several decades since. I will not have any nights (on in my case days) of lost sleep because of the images King has proferred. But then, I am getting on, and am looking at those scary things with aging eyes. Someone younger (which would be almost all of you reading this) might find them far more frightening than I did.

So while Doctor Sleep might not cause much by way of lost rest, it is good, mainstream Stephen King and thus, hardly a snooze. The Doctor of Horror is in. Wake up!
***********************************************************************************
Once upon a time, there was a girl. She liked to read, but was at a crossroads between being too old for childish books, and a bit too young for cheesy romance novels with Fabio on the cover. The girl loved scary movies and all things horror and wondered if maybe there were things written like that. She asked the librarian, who handed her a book. The girl ran home and closed herself up in her room.
 She sat down and started to read a book called Carrie, by an author named Stephen King. She devoured that book and went on to read every single book by her new favorite author, including those under the name Richard Bachman. When those ran out, she explored different authors like Koontz, Saul, Cook, and Crichton, just to name a few. So many doors were opened and so many journeys taken, worlds explored, over many years. Maybe I'll get back to this story a bit later.
When I heard that Doctor Sleep was coming out I immediately pre-ordered it on Amazon. I rarely do this, but for King I tend to make exceptions. Finally, the other day my Kindle got a present.
I'll admit, for the first 15% of the book it was a bit slow for me. I started to panic, envisioning Under the Dome, which sits on my kindle shelf. A book that I've tried to read twice, without success. I didn't want Doctor Sleep, which features one of my favorite characters, to fall by the wayside and have the same fate. Luckily it picked up and I was trapped in the pages.
Doctor Sleep is said to be The Shining 2. While some parts of this may be true, for the most part it's a standalone. You do not have to read The Shining to read this. Read it anyway because it's fuckawesome. There is no spooktastic Overlook Hotel, it has long ago perished. The only real connection between the two books is Dan, our main. Dan, who was a five year old scared little boy in The Shining, now a man. A man who is a fucked up alcoholic hot mess.
The villains aren't ghosts of a haunted hotel, but beings (like vampires, I guess), who kill children who Shine. Sucking up their essence as they die.
I won't say more about the story. I'm not here to give a full blown play by play, because in essence, then why would you need to read the book?
I can say this. If someone who had never read Stephen King, asked me if this should be their first book, I would say no. I would send them the direction of Cujo or Pet Sematary, or Carrie, Salem's Lot. This is a quieter Stephen King. It is not a horror story. There's no hiding under the blankets or checking the drain in the bathroom, looking for a creepy clown named Pennywise. The bad guys aren't scary. More like washed up. Shadows of what a bad guy should be. Stephen King knows how to write villains. Randall Flagg, Pennywise, Cujo, a baby named Gage, even a prison guard named Percy. I repeat, this is really not a horror story.
For those of us who have read The Shining, what a joy it was to see some characters we loved from that book. I wish Tony had more of a story, I'm always curious about him. Perhaps a book for Tony, Mr. King?
For me, reading Dan again was like meeting an old friend after many years. He was forever frozen as a boy in my mind. Now he has come full circle. When you finish a book, normally that's it. Time goes on, you read new books, get involved with new characters. They, in turn, become frozen. What a gift to be able to revisit a character after all this time.
My final thoughts. I highly recommend this book. If you're holding out because you haven't read The Shining, don't. Doctor Sleep is well written, snarky at times as only Mr. King can be, and will suck you in. I even cried once or twice, yes, from The Master of Horror.
***********************************************************************************
A very good Stephen King book.

I went to see a concert last year featuring Joan Jett, Cheap Trick and Heart. Promoters called it the Hall of Fame tour because all three bands were in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was a great show, we had a blast. I got the impression that any of these talented professionals could put on a great show in their sleep. They’ve been doing it so long that they knew their craft as well as how to win over a crowd.

Stephen King is also a wily old master craftsman who knows how to grab a reader and hold him entranced for hundreds of pages. Hell, he’s practically a genre unto himself now, leaving behind the Horror and Fantasy schools for a stage just for him. And while I would agree that he, like Joan Jett and Ann Wilson, could put on a great show without trying very hard, I think he did put some extra effort into Doctor Sleep, his 2013 sequel to his 1980 masterpiece The Shining.

While this takes off from where The Shining left off and then goes on to tell its own story, this is in many ways an amalgam of many of his best stories and returns to many of the themes that have made him one of our most successful writers. I noticed elements of Pet Sematary, Firestarter, and The Dead Zone. Besides trying to scare the heeby-jeebies out of us, King explores themes of family, life and death, extra sensory perceptions, and the demons that haunt us, paranormal and mundane.

King, a recovering alcoholic, wrote The Shining as an alcoholic and Doctor Sleep speaks from this mature, embattled perspective. Sadly, but fittingly, little Danny Torrance becomes too much like his father and has succumbed to his inherited drinking problem. King shares with us, no doubt from much of his own experience, how Alcoholics Anonymous helps Dan Torrance survive and thrive in sobriety, but also shares Dan’s rock bottom and how this hidden secret gnaws at Torrance as much as the ghosts form the Overlook Hotel. In this way, King provides an allegory for secrets held and like so much of his writing, finds the horrific without delving too far into fantasy. We are our own worst enemies – and nightmares.

Years after the tragedy at the Overlook, Dan Torrance is making his way from childhood to alcoholic despondency to an edgy and fragile temperance. Like most recovering alcoholics, he takes his life one step at a time, and one day at a time. And his gift of shining remains. Using his special abilities to help dying patients in a hospice, he has come to the sobriquet of Doctor Sleep. It is here that Dan discovers a young girl who makes his shining look dim by comparison; as his is a flashlight, hers is a light house. Dan also discovers an antagonistic group who feed on human suffering, and the suffering of those with the shining is their most cherished delicacy.

Rose the Hat. Leading this group of psychic vampires is one of King’s most devilish and engaging characters. From Northern Ireland (centuries ago – drawing on the vampire parallel) Rose was once Irish Rose, but now in her leadership role, she is Rose the Hat, appearing with a cocked to one side old top hat. King has made a good living on making bad guys scary and evil and in Rose he has given us one of his most dire, giving old Barlow a run for his money.

So I raise my lighter to you, Mr. King, great show.
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16130549-doctor-sleep?ac=1