Recently, a good GR friend agreed that the word ‘magical’ is a great way of describing The Talisman. In turn, she shared a quote by Markus Zusak:
“Sometimes you read a book so special that you want to carry it around with you for months after you’ve finished just to stay near it.”
Only now can I not only fully agree, but appreciate the sentiment behind Zusak’s words.. although it’s uncertain if he was referring to this particular novel. It’s incredibly profound, and they describe my feelings toward The Talisman perfectly. (Thank you, once again, Michelle.)
Yet there’s more to it than mere magical elements. Much more. At the heart of the story is 12-year-old Jack Sawyer, whose sold purpose seems to be his ailing mother’s salvation. In order to acquire that, however, he must venture east.. and beyond.
In the days leading to his departure, Jack meets the truly invaluable “Speedy” Parker. Insodoing, King & Straub expertly introduces the Constant Reader to him, as well. The duo transports you there, right alongside them. They are long-lost friends, indeed!
This being my 3rd reading, they took me on a roller-coaster of a journey which surpassed my considerably high expectations. With that admission, I have another valid confession: I tend to be a very analytical reader, especially compared to my previous experiences with the book.
One scene, in particular, stands out as slightly unrealistic: our protagonist’s leave-taking. I seriously do not recall having this reaction. Perhaps with age and maturity, we perceive things differently, thus reacting in various ways, I really don’t know…
Part II: The Road of Trials, is easily a favorite section of mine. As the title suggests, it chronicles the genesis of Jack’s epic journey. It’s life-altering, as his adventures help form the man he is to become. This is precisely why I love the section so very much.
“..Another light perhaps eight blocks down changed to green before a high dingy many-windowed building that looked a mental hospital, and so was probably the high school..”
The words conveyed to describe the bleak beauty of Oatley are utterly amazing and awe inspiring ..as I believe is evident in the previous passage.
The character of Wolf is very memorable (I haven’t forgotten him since my first reading, in 1999.) He’s beloved, and so masterfully crafted that you can’t help the urge to run toward him with a warm embrace. In times of sorrow, joy, or imminent danger, your heart goes out to him. it breaks your heart, really. Well, it did mine, anyway.
As the journey continues, the reader is treated with an attribute rarely given by the so-called “latest and greatest” writers of today. In Jack, for instance, we learn much about his personal character (as opposed to the superficial,) to the point that it almost feels like an invasion of his privacy. King & Straub delve deep, exposing cherished memories, childhood fears, and the like. Most interestingly, the mind-set of the characters.
The juxtaposition between Jack and Richard Sloat still astonishes me. One thought plagued me, relentlessly, and that is, How is it possible for two individuals-who are polar opposite of one another- to be so incredibly close? It hardly seems plausible, even now, yet it’s true. Brilliant work, King and Straub!
I’d never experienced this before, but at a certain point, I had a genuine Eureka! moment, which commenced with the realization that this duo were clearly influenced by C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia and, to an extent, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.
P.491: “..The coats and suits are gone, the floor is gone, but it isn’t crisp white snow underfoot; it’s stinking black dirt which is apparently the birthing ground for these unpleasant black jumping insects; this place is by no stretch of the imagination Narnia…”
492: “.. And later that day, he takes all of his storybooks–The Little Golden Books, the pop-up books, the I-Can-Read books, the Dr. Seuss books, the Green Fairy Book for Young Folks, and he puts them in a carton, and he puts the carton down in the basement, and he thinks: “I would not care if an earthquake came now and opened a crack in the floor and swallowed up every one of those books. In fact, it would be such a relief that I would probably laugh all day and most of the weekend..” “
By the fourth and final section, aptly entitled The Talisman, I absolutely loved every word. I though that it couldn’t possibly get any better, but I was mistaken… by far.
From the Blasted Lands to the very end of their adventures, and virtually everything in between, this one has it all. Excluding the spectacular conclusion, I really enjoyed and have much respect for the chapter centered around Richard’s past, and-ultimately- how he deals with it.
On a side note, Jack’s mother, Lily Cavanaugh, felt very distant throughout most of the novel. I had the impression that she was, in a way, detached from reality. And aside from her debilitating illness, I barely felt anything for her at all. That is, until the end. This development impacted me greatly!
If I had a critique to give, I’d comment on the novels’ wordiness. And it can be a bit long-winded in places, but its innate visual enhancements make them almost necessary. Hardly a critique at all, eh?
Up next, Black House. I haven’t read it since the initial HC publication, circa 2001. I remember practically nothing of the text, so as you can probably imagine, I am very much looking forward to this one!