The Book Cook Look Club is a small Australian based book club combining three much-loved activities: reading, cooking and films. Declan, a member of the club, will be recapping his experience each month right here on The Nerd Daily!
BOOK | One person selects a book for everyone to read over the next month.
COOK | The book selector hosts a dinner party with a themed meal related to the book.
LOOK | We compare the film adaptation to its source material.
Ninety percent of the time when you hear the name “Stephen King”, your next thought would likely be The Shining, Carrie, It, Misery, or any number of his other famous pieces of horror/thriller fiction. Perhaps lesser known, but still quite popular, are his fantasy novels – namely The Dark Tower series, or as we discussed tonight, the medieval fantasy story The Eyes of the Dragon.
As I entered the dining room tonight, I was greeted by perhaps the most elaborately themed evening yet. The entire table and surrounding furniture was decked out in medieval decorations – a deep red tablecloth, goblets, candles, and even a looped video of a roaring fire playing on the television. Traditional spiced mead was the drink of choice tonight, and Richard served up pomegranate salad with haloumi and walnuts as our entrée.
It took us a while to settle into the discussion as we were pretty blown away with the remarkable effort that Richard had put into the night. Alec led the way, smoothly shifting into our discussion on The Eyes of the Dragon.
This mead is lovely… just like the potion Flagg made.
Subtle. Not an entirely accurate comment considering that Flagg’s poison led to King Roland’s horrible, torturous death, but at least now we were on track.
Speaking of Flagg, I had to raise a point that had really been bothering me for a while. This month, for the first time ever, I decided to listen to an audiobook to see how it would impact my experience of the novel. It’s certainly something I would try again for other books as it helped me get through it a lot faster than I would have otherwise, and Bronson Pinchot’s reading was invested and engaging. But I just could not get past his voice for Flagg, which sounded like Voldemort and Snape eloped and produced an evil hissing, droning wizard. This was particularly distracting and, at times, even incoherent.
It wasn’t long until we had a roast lamb with peas, potatoes and pumpkin served in front of us. A very traditional meal, but one that often appears as the king’s choice of dinner in medieval settings.
We started to broach upon personal opinions of the book as a whole, and Alec was vocal in his distaste for the book’s slow pace. Cassie similarly disliked King’s over-explanation of simple details, although she also told us that this is one of her common gripes about his writing in general.
On the other side of the table we had Jillian, Richard, and Heath, who all read the book when they were younger and were huge fans of King’s world building. The Eyes of the Dragon is partially connected to The Dark Tower series with some common characters and locations, and there was a near-unanimous agreement that King’s ability to construct a fantasy world in just this one, single book was very impressive.
Alec even went so far as to throw out yet another controversial opinion that caused a bit of tension:
In terms of world-building, I would have to say that The Eyes of the Dragon is richer than the Harry Potter series.
Whoooooaaaa, hold up there buddy. As a millennial, Harry Potter is of course always going to be close to my heart. In spite of its flaws, it is a phenomenal book series with a richly detailed world that I personally think The Eyes of the Dragon can’t hold a light to.
I found The Eyes of the Dragon to be simplistic in its narrative structure, playing off medieval fantasy stereotypes. It dwelled too long on Peter’s plot of weaving the napkin threads, and I never really grasped a sense of the entire world that was being set up. I can’t speak for The Dark Tower series, but I just didn’t feel like The Eyes of the Dragon lived up to its hype.
Richard told us that he chose this book for similar reasons to why I couldn’t get into it. It was part of his childhood, and he appreciated the traditional approach of telling a medieval fantasy story.
Finally, dessert arrived. A hot blackberry tart, with some ice cream on the side. There is no current film adaptation of The Eyes of the Dragon, so we started to branch out into a broader discussion of high vs low fantasy. For the sake of convenient definitions:
High Fantasy: Set in completely a different world or universe with its own laws and monsters, mainly focusing on an epic adventure or battle (eg The Lord of the Rings, Dungeons and Dragons, Eragon)
Low Fantasy: Set in a seemingly rational world where supernatural or magic forces are not supposed to exist, and mainly focusing on personal struggles (eg Harry Potter, The Mortal Instruments, Supernatural)
The Eyes of the Dragon, like Game of Thrones, seems to blend the two a little. It is not a completely familiar world, but it still largely resembles life in medieval society.
Scott chimed in and expressed his love for high fantasy – a sub-genre I can appreciate, but not one that I ever got into as much as I did with low fantasy. I find that low fantasy often makes a comment on our society and is easier to connect to, whereas high fantasy is a wholly immersive experience that requires complete suspension of disbelief. Stephen King strikes a balance between the two of these in The Eyes of the Dragon, although I felt like he didn’t end up adding anything new to either sub-genre.
Don’t just listen to me though. Perhaps my opinion is heavily flawed, and you shouldn’t let that stop you from reading Stephen King’s fantasy writing if you are genuinely interested in it. Sarah and Richard’s love for his world building was well justified, and it is likely their familiarity with The Dark Tower series added greatly to their experience of the book. However, this did affirm in my mind that sometimes it is better to ease into a new style of writing than to jump in headfirst.
What are your thoughts on The Eyes of the Dragon? Let us know in the comments below!