I’ve read 41 Stephen King books, and none are more simplistic or convenience-driven than The Eyes of the Dragon. King explains in the afterword how he wrote it for his young daughter, but didn’t want to dumb it down and question her intelligence; unfortunately, he seems to have done exactly that, as each plot point hinges on a moment that caused me to ask “well, now isn’t that convenient?”
Even the best stories have some elements of convenience. Breaking Bad’s detractors will be quick to point out dozens of them in the show’s run, for instance. The Eyes of the Dragon goes beyond the necessary amount, however. If everything hadn’t happened just so, the story would’ve ended before it even began.
Once again, I’ll admit that this could be said of most stories. In the screenwriting course I took at Pitt, my professor defined a plot point as something that must happen in order for the plot to continue on. Isn’t that all it’s guilty of then, following normal story conventions, you ask? Yes and no.
The sort of moments I’m taking issue with are the ones where everything comes together way too nicely for me to buy it as mere coincidence, such as the role that Peter’s dollhouse comes to play later on in the book. I can’t buy that everything would slot into place so perfectly.
In addition, it’s not an overly complicated story. Flagg seeks to run Roland’s kingdom to ruin. To do so, he must first get Roland out of the way, and he does so by poisoning him and setting it up so the weaker-willed of Roland’s sons will become king. The rest of the book is then about how and when his treachery will be uncovered and him punished. That’s about the gist of it.
Strong characters could counteract the negative effects of so simplistic a plot, but no one, save Flagg himself, stood out to me. The only thing that did was, as usual, King’s writing itself. Even when the story he’s telling isn’t that impressive, King tends to do an above-average job of telling it, and The Eyes of the Dragon is no exception. With that in mind, I can really only, in good conscience, recommend it to people who are already fans of his work.