Monday, July 2, 2012

“Beginning” of the Week #20

Last week’s review of The Wind Through The Keyhole had me thinking about another of Stephen King’s more fairy tale-like books, The Eyes of the Dragon (you can read my review of it here). This is one of those rare novels that pulls off the use of an omniscient, storytelling narrator, and here’s how it begins:


Once, in a kingdom called Delain, there was a King with two sons. Delain was a very old kingdom and it had had hundreds of Kings, perhaps even thousands; when time goes on long enough, not even historians can remember everything. Roland the Good was neither the best nor the worst King ever to rule the land. He tried very hard not to do anyone great evil and mostly succeeded. He also tried very hard to do great works, but, unfortunately, he didn’t succeed so well at that. The result was a very mediocre King; he doubted if he would be remembered long after he was dead. And his death might come at any time now, because he had grown old, and his heart was failing. He had perhaps one year left, perhaps three. Everyone who knew him, and everyone who observed his gray face and shaking hands when he held court, agreed that in five years at the very most a new King would be crowned in the great plaza at the foot of the Needle . . . and it would only be five years with God’s grace. So everyone in the Kingdom, from the richest baron and the most foppishly dressed courtier to the poorest serf and his ragged wife, thought and talked about the King in waiting, Roland’s elder son, Peter. 
And one man thought and planned and brooded on something else: how to make sure that Roland’s younger son, Thomas, should be crowned King instead. This man was Flagg, the King’s magician.
– Stephen King, The Eyes of the Dragon

The narrative viewpoint in this opening makes it read differently than some. There is clearly no scene here, just set up and a hint of the conflict that will drive the novel. But, as always, let me know what you think – does this have the elements of a great beginning?

2 comments:

Leslie said...

Like you said, this has no scene. But I do think it has the elements of a great beginning. I haven't actually read The Eyes of the Dragon, but this makes me want to. I love the fantasy element here. It's very fairytale-like. Seeing as this is a novel of "archetypal heroes and sweeping adventures" (as Amazon says) it seems like a great opening.

Joseph Finley said...

Leslie,

Thanks for the comment! I think Stephen King intended a fairy-tale opening, so in that sense it works wonderfully. I also think Stephen King is one of those rare, great authors that can pull off anything, whether conventional or not. In any event, the book is a good read!