“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.”
King used a unique narrative style for this fairy tale, where he flexes his writing muscle and offers something much different than his usual fare. Fans of the Dark Tower series will see some name similarities and tributes here like King Roland (much different personality than our beloved gunslinger) and Flagg, who is as evil as always. Set in historical fantasy-land times, it's a story about two young brothers rising to become Kings while the kingdom is really being ruled by a demented magician.
I loved how King tied in two childhood habits into the story later as major game changers. I enjoyed the characterization - Peter and his allies were formidable forces for good, Roland and Thomas among many who struggle between right and wrong, and then finally Flagg - pure evil badassness with his laboratory and potions. It follows fairy-tale tropes with kingdoms, towers, betrayals, and the day old struggle of brotherly love/envy and living up to a father's ideals.
It's not gory, but there are disturbing scenes, such as the use of a certain dragon-influenced poison. King again indulges in weird body humor - scenes with the King farting and picking his nose. King does this often so I guess it's a humor he enjoys, although I could have done without some of the scenes. Gross!
Overall it's a well written book and easy to follow, but the pacing lags after the first 1/4th. While the story is a good one, there's just not enough action and variances to justify it's length. Not ridiculously long at 380 pages, but my interest started waning.
“I think that real friendship always makes us feel such sweet gratitude, because the world almost always seems like a very hard desert, and the flowers that grow there seem to grow against such high odds.”