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The Talisman by Stephen King

The Talisman (1984)

by Stephen King, Peter Straub

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Recently added byprivate library, jaymds, kybunnies, Kerri2194, JessicaofAbbey, haribo002, cls1000, bhd147
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Amazon book description: "Why had twelve-year-old Jack Sawyer’s mother frantically moved the two of them from Rodeo Drive to a New York City apartment to the Alhambra, a fading ocean resort and shuttered amusement park in New Hampshire? Who or what is she running from? She is dying . . . and even young Jack knows she can’t outrun death. But only he can save her—for he has been chosen to search for a prize across an epic landscape of dangers and lies, a realm of innocents and monsters, where everything Jack loves is on the line."

To answer the opening question, they're running from Jack's "Uncle" Morgan, Lily Cavanagh's deceased husband's business partner. As many times as I've read this, I've never quite figured out why a nearly-abandoned New Hampshire resort is Lily's choice of hideout, but no matter. It serves as the jumping-off point for Jack's quest for the Talisman, a mysterious object that can only be found in The Territories.

And what are The Territories, you ask? A world that parallels ours, not only in its similar, if compressed, geography, but in its people. With few exceptions, each of us here has a "Twinner" over there. Jack's mother's Twinner is the Queen, Morgan's Twinner is Osmond, a nobleman; and other people Jack encounters along his path exist in each world. Jack is one of the exceptions: his Twinner, the Queen's son, died as an infant. At any rate, at the resort, young Jack is befriended by Speedy, a handyman who also happens to know about The Territories, and the need for Jack to go there.

It all seems a little far-fetched, and the set-up is slow, but go with it. Once Jack accepts Speedy's story (and accepts his own faint memories of a place he called the Dreamland) ("...when Jackie was six...yes, Jackie was six..."), he's off and running, often literally, to save his own life and that of his mother. And it's truly an epic journey, from coast to coast, through pastoral valleys and grimy villages, with each moment, whether here in our world or there in the Territories, filled with danger and magic and wonder and terror.

I've read this book probably a dozen times over the last 30 years, and it never fails to astonish me. King has a gift for creating remarkable young characters -- he gets inside the mind of an adolescent boy like no one else I've ever read; and his and Straub's differing prose styles blend so well, I can't really tell who wrote what. I will agree with a couple of other reviewers that a fearless and ruthless editor could have done The Talisman some good by excising a little repetitive exposition, but you know what? I don't care. It's a damn good story regardless. ( )
  avanta7 | Oct 5, 2014 |
God pound it, that was a tedious read! There is an awesome 300 page book in this behemoth! Jack Sawyer takes on a Herculean task and must cross the country/Territories to achieve it. Part Tom Sawyer, part Jack Kerouac, and even a bit of Jesus in this 12 year old! A good tale, but stretched out much too long. Makes me nervous about the sequel. Wolf! ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Aug 22, 2014 |
Jack Sawyer was my first character crush. Ok, maybe not my first. But what an awesome adventure. It has everything. Horror, mystery, thriller, fantasy, love - mostly familial love, but still. After all this, it is just an amazing story of friendships and the journey.
( )
  tiddleyboom | Jan 6, 2014 |
A young boy goes on a quest across the United States and its parallel world, the Territories, to save his mother.

I have such mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it's an early attempt to tackle some of the themes that I grew to love in King's books, such as the idea of linked worlds. On the other hand, I think it's bloated and the execution is clumsy. I also didn't feel a real connection to these characters. Perhaps that was Straub's influence, a writer I tried to like but could never connect with either.

Contrariwise, the sequel Black House is a much better read.

Read ages ago because Stephen King is one of my favorite authors. Reviewed from memory. ( )
  sturlington | Nov 28, 2013 |
3.5 stars

13-year old Jack's mother is dying. He finds himself on a quest from New Hampshire to California to find a “talisman” to cure his mom. This quest will take him back and forth between worlds, this one and the “Territories”.

I waffled on this one between rating it ok (3 stars) and good (3.5 stars). I'm not even sure what genre to call it – it was a mix of horror, science fiction, and fantasy, maybe? I'm not always a fantasy fan, and what I did find in this book was that the parts that I lost interest in where mostly the parts in the Territories, the other world. My mind did wander at times, but there were other times where I was interested. In a way, some of the parts felt a little like short stories (which I'm also not a fan of), but more fleshed out short stories, where there would be some focus on the people Jack met and what he was doing for a time, then he'd move and on there would be new people and another “story” before he moved on again. Overall, I'll rate it “good”, but I don't think I'll read the sequel. ( )
  LibraryCin | Oct 13, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stephen Kingprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Straub, Petermain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Well, when Tom and me got to the edge of the hilltop, we looked away down into the village and could see three or four lights twinkling, where there was sick folks, may be; and stars over us was sparkling ever so fine; and down by the village was the river, a whole mile broad, and awful still and grand. -Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn
My new clothes was all greased up and clayey, and I was dog-tired. -Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn
The book is for Ruth King, Elvena Straub
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On September 15th, 1981, a boy named Jack Sawyer stood where the water and land come together, hands in the pockets of his jeans, looking out at the steady Atlantic.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345444884, Mass Market Paperback)

On a brisk autumn day, a thirteen-year-old boy stands on the shores of the gray Atlantic, near a silent amusement park and a fading ocean resort called the Alhambra. The past has driven Jack Sawyer here: his father is gone, his mother is dying, and the world no longer makes sense. But for Jack everything is about to change. For he has been chosen to make a journey back across America–and into another realm.

One of the most influential and heralded works of fantasy ever written, The Talisman is an extraordinary novel of loyalty, awakening, terror, and mystery. Jack Sawyer, on a desperate quest to save his mother’s life, must search for a prize across an epic landscape of innocents and monsters, of incredible dangers and even more incredible truths. The prize is essential, but the journey means even more. Let the quest
. . . .

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:21:40 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Twelve-year-old Jack Sawyer braves the mysterious dangers of the Territories, a surreal parallel world, in his cross-country quest through the U.S. for the Talisman, the only hope for his dying mother and for his own survival.

» see all 10 descriptions

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