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Graphic Novel Review

Book Cover

The Talisman
Volume 1
The Road of Trials


Authors: Stephen King and Peter Straub
Artists: Tony Shasteen
Titan Books
RRP: £9.99, US $25.00
ISBN: 978 1 84856 877 8
Available 23 July 2010

The Talisman: The Road of Trials, is volume one of the graphic novels which collect together the original comics based on the New York Times bestselling novel, The Talisman, which was penned by the writing partnership of Stephen King and Peter Straub. Published by Titan Books, there are around 160 pages, with the story split into a prologue and five chapters. The adaptation is by Robin Furth, with artwork by Tony Shasteen, colours by Nei Ruffino & JD Mettler, and lettering by Bill Tortolini. An added bonus for purchasers of this product include, the comic issues cover artwork, concept sketches for three characters, and a very brief interview with Stephen King and Peter Straub.

I'm not a fan of Stephen King's writing. Admittedly, he has some very good horror ideas; however, they are seriously marred by too much exposition, and descriptive passages laid on as thick as a Scooby-snack sandwich. You could comfortably tear most of his books in half and not miss any of the plot. I don't want to know about floral wallpaper and Regency furniture. But the guy's an international bestselling author several times over, so that huge a readership can't be wrong, can they? Yes, they can actually. This graphic novel suffers from the SK syndrome from the outset.

From what I can gather, the story follows a young boy who dreams about another fantasy-like reality, only to later discover that it is a real place. Everyone has a double, but the boy's doppelganger has died, allowing him to span realms by means of a bottle of drink he is given. Evil schemes are at play, so it is the boy's quest to seek out the Talisman, which can save his mother from cancer, and revive her double, the queen who lies close to death in bed.

I realise that this is only the first part of the story but, whether it is the fault of King himself or the adaptation for this graphic novel, the plot crawls along maddeningly slowly, and early on meanders all over the place as if seeking direction. You can't blame the artwork, which is of high quality; it needs a powerful tale with plenty of action and peril to draw in the reader. But it just doesn't happen. Whilst appreciating the product, you just don't care about anything that's going on - which is very little. Furthermore, this parallel reality scenario was written significantly earlier and to much better effect by Piers Anthony's Split Infinity trilogy - which later expanded into his Phaze series.


Ty Power

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