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The Talisman (The Talisman #1)

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  80,879 Ratings  ·  2,123 Reviews
On a brisk autumn day, a thirteen-year-old boy stands on the shores of the gray Atlantic, near a silent amusement park and a fading ocean resort called the Alhambra. The past has driven Jack Sawyer here: His father is gone, his mother is dying, and the world no longer makes sense. But for Jack everything is about to change. For he has been chosen to make a journey back acr ...more
Mass Market Paperback, Reissue Edition, 735 pages
Published August 2001 by Ballantine Books (first published November 8th 1984)
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Gordon Ralph all i can say is it depends on the 10 year old !...there's nothing particularly yucky or sexually explicit in it, but a bit of violence now and again…moreall i can say is it depends on the 10 year old !...there's nothing particularly yucky or sexually explicit in it, but a bit of violence now and again ! so if your child has read SK books before there shouldnt be a problem .....i was about this age when i read James Herbert (rip!) and SK probs for me ! (less)
Evan The book is great a kid any age that can read well would like it. it does not have much of that stuff a ten year old can't read. but again it depends…moreThe book is great a kid any age that can read well would like it. it does not have much of that stuff a ten year old can't read. but again it depends on the ten year old.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Nov 28, 2007 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite book of all time! To me, it is just the perfect epic hero's journey story. I love that it takes place in the early 80s; I love the grittiness and ugliness of what happens to Jack as he travels back and forth between this world and The Territories, and I LOVE the character of Wolf.

The first few chapters are a little slow and not very exciting, but they are important and hold crucial story points that will come into play later, so to anyone reading this for the first time, I recommend
Dirk Grobbelaar
Tricksy Review

There is so much that happens in this novel, that any thoughts I can cram into one review will always be woefully inadequate.

Don't you sometimes think there's more to life than order?
Don't you want just a little magic?

It is perhaps a good thing to read this book three decades down the line, separated from the hype that so weighed it down when it was first published. 50% Horror; 50% Dark Fantasy. 50% Straub; 50% King, and yet not anything you would have expected from either.

The quo
Jan 03, 2013 Dustin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: I think everyone should read it, at least once
Shelves: favorites, classics

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 tow
One of the things that I love the absolute best about Stephen King's books (most of them) is that they are immensely re-readable, and depending on where is in one's life, or how many of King's other books one has read, the experience could be completely different each time.

I have loved this book for a long time. It's a quest, it's a great story with great characters, but more than that, it's almost like a prototype of where The Dark Tower series would eventually go... An alt universe mini micro
Jul 24, 2012 Lou rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-reads
Heartwarming journey of self discovery and triumph. Travelling Jack is on a quest to save his ailing mother through worlds within worlds. The story's playing within worlds reminds me of dr Seuss Horton hears a who movie, where actions in one world have repercussions in the other. Jack meets familiar faces and both worlds fate have an effect on each other. He is only 12 years old and he starts to embark on experiences that are painful and heartwarming that mold him into someone unique. He bonds w ...more
David "proud Gleeman in Branwen's adventuring party"
Dave's Quick Judgement -

- Book is so cohesive, it feels like it was written by one author instead of two.
- Horror and fantasy elements are blended together perfectly.
- Story is astonishingly original and unpredictable.
- Prose is lush and magical.
- Events are very exciting (particularly the climax).

- Gruesome moments are not for more gentle readers
(Of course, chances are gentle readers avoid any book with the words "STEPHEN KING" on the cover anyway!)
- Plot
Franco  Santos
Jul 08, 2015 Franco Santos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stephen-king
Este es uno de los libros más difíciles de conseguir de King; sólo se consigue usado, e incluso así es complicado hacerse con él. Por suerte llegó a mis manos su más valuada edición: en tapa dura, editorial Plaza y Janés. Es uno de mis libros más importantes.
Sí, quería presumir.

—¿No piensas a veces que en la vida hay algo más, aparte del orden? —Miró la cara de Richard, inocente y escéptica—. ¿No te gustaría un poco de magia, Richard?

Es una novela de la cual esperaba mucho. Había leído muchas
Feb 15, 2014 Brian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was bound to happen at some point in my reading aloud to my wife that I would finish a book and we would let out a collective groan. I just wish it had been on something less than 670 pages.

I began to stitch together a longish review pinpointing all of the things that didn't work in this book, but I decided that since 2014 hasn't yielded me much precious reading time so far, I'd much prefer to spend free hours lost in another book and not thinking any further on this one. I've not read anythi
For about a three month period, we follow a twelve year old Jack Sawyer on a journey which will take him across the country, but also to other worlds unknown. Jack Sawyer has had a life unlike most kids his age, and his wisdom, determination, and just all-around kick-a$$ness throughout the entire novel, show even a twelve year old boy shouldn't be underestimated.

I think one of the things I liked best about The Talisman was Jack Sawyer. He's the type of character you can't help but love, not onl
HT Goodwill
Jun 29, 2007 HT Goodwill rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Stephen King fans, those who like feeling bad when they read
Well written? Yes. Good story line? Yes. Creative? Yes. Worth reading? No.

The problem I have with this book (and many of the Stephen King books I've attempted to read) is that everything in it is presented as being mean, petty, twisted, angry, cruel, etc.

When I read, I'm willing to wade through sad, oppresive, heart-wrenching difficulties with the main characters if necessary, but ultimately, I read fiction in the hopes that it is going to help me feel good about life, forget my troubles, forget
This has always been one of my favorite Stephen King books, as well as one of my favorite books in general. It's one that I've read numerous times, so I was thrilled when the sequel Black House was chosen for the June 2010 group read in the Stephen King group here on Goodreads, because it gave me an excuse to reread this one. Again.

I love Jack. Love. He's so good and pure and honest and brave and willing to do what is needed to do the right thing. I love the way that he starts out scared and un
Adam Light
I have wanted to reread The Talisman for many years, and I did it! I was worried that it wouldn't be as good as it was the first time around. It has been at least twenty five years since I first read it.
I am happy to say the intervening years did nothing to diminish this epic story's capacity to engage and absorb me. A boy hits the road, on a mission to cross the country and find the mystical object which has the power to heal his cancer-stricken mother.
More coming of age tale than anything else
4.0 stars. Stephen King knows how to tell a story and this is another good example of his talent for world-building and plotting. Having read this, it is amazing to me that this story was not originally intended as part of the "Dark Tower" universe because the tie-ins are "in your face" for most of the story. In fact, as a huge fan of the Dark Tower series, one of the only reasons that I did not enjoy this story even more is because it wasn't expressly connected to that larger story and so read ...more
This is one of those rare moments when I bump a 4-star that I read many years ago up to 5-star. Usually a book isn't quite as magical on the second read, though with authors like King the rating normally stays the same as before.

But here, I realize that I underestimated just what The Talisman did for me. More than once I thought that it felt like Tolkien. I was often reminded of The Dark Tower (which I had not yet read during my first visit to the Territories). A Mark Twain boy's adventure even
Thomas Strömquist
This review is really breaking my heart, and I've put a lot of thought into doing it. I decided that, while I of course stand by my earlier review (, I want to urge you to recognize that that one was written by a much younger reader and that, keeping with the Goodreads grading, I finally felt forced to drop the Talisman down to a silly two.

As you can already tell, I do not do this lightly, and I'll be sure to justify my decision...

The main problem is tha
Apr 30, 2016 Arnis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
David Sarkies
Aug 10, 2015 David Sarkies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like Stephen King
Recommended to David by: A friend I was living with
Shelves: horror
The Horror of Vulnerability
8 August 2015

Well, this is my last night in Phuket and even though I wrote this review a couple of years ago I still need to go over it again just to iron out all of the little spelling and grammatical mistakes that I may have made. Okay, you are probably asking me why, since it is my last night and it is a Saturday, why I am not off having fun. Well, I just spent the day cruising around Phang Na Bay looking at all of the awesome islands, including the island that was
Kevin Bessey
Maybe I had too high of expectations, but I can’t say that I was overly impressed by “The Talisman”. From the very beginning of the story, I could not get into the plot or even any of the plot devices. It wasn’t that the story was hard to believe, and I don’t have a problem with fantasy, it’s just that the execution and premise of the story was really hard to get in to.

Overall, it felt like a patch-work quilt where a collection of short-story adventures were sewn together with 12-year old Jack
Oct 27, 2008 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I've never read anything written solely by Peter Straub, so I didn't really know what to expect from a collaboration between him and Stephen King. Honestly, in the end, it just felt mostly like a Stephen King book, but maybe that's because I haven't read any Peter Straub. In terms of the writing on a basic level, The Talisman is a pretty easy read. The flow is pretty good and there aren't any stupidly show-offy words or anything like it. At times it does feel a bit like it could do with some edi ...more
Ruth Turner

Audiobook – Narrated by Frank Muller – Excellent narration.

As always Frank Muller gives an outstanding narration.



I can remember the first time I read this book, many years ago, and how I struggled to get into it. Coming on the back of Carrie, ‘Salem’s Lot, The Shining, Cujo, Christine and Pet Sematary, I kept thinking WTF?! What was he inhaling, snorting, drinking or smoking when he wrote this, and where could I get some.

I managed to get through it without the aid of any mind-altering
Scott Rhee
Oct 11, 2013 Scott Rhee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, dark-fantasy
When I first read "The Talisman" I was roughly the same age as, if not younger than, the 12-year-old protagonist, Jack Sawyer. I remember it being a pretty good adventure story about a young boy on a quest to save his mother, and I remember enjoying it, but I couldn't remember much about it.

I'm in my 40s now, older and hopefully a bit wiser, and I happened to stumble upon a paperback copy of the book amongst my vast collection of tomes, so I decided to pick it up and zip through it. I figured,
May 30, 2008 Shannon rated it it was amazing
My only problem with this book is that I can totally tell which lines were penned by the pretentious and long winded (yes, even compared to Stephen King) Peter Straub. I'm fairly certain he wrote most of the first chapter or two, which is why I had this book on my shelf for a couple years before I could ever get into it. Finally one day I decided to power through the bleak and wordy beginning. After that, I only stopped reading for bathroom breaks and food, even foregoing sleep to finish this am ...more
How to review a Stephen King masterpiece? A beautiful story of an extremely brave boy who embarks on an epic, life changing expedition. His true, lion heart provides him with the drive and determination to complete an adventure that is fully beyond his widest imagination.

As always King's writing jumps off the page and right into your own imagination. He takes us on a journey through unbelievable lands that pull us from one extreme to another, twists and turns our hearts with beautifully, perfec
Feb 06, 2012 Dawn rated it liked it
I went back and forth for a while with my rating for this book. Some sections were a solid five. Some a pretty solid four.. But then everything in between those.. It sort of dragged. There was just so much journeying, so so so much on the road type crap. Which I get! It's just that kind of book, a hero with a quest, obstacles along the way. I like that, it's classic fantasy. But it just got to be too much.. It seemed repetitive in a lot of ways. The stops along the way were interesting.. But the ...more
Janie Johnson
Jan 15, 2015 Janie Johnson rated it really liked it
This could easily be one of King's greatest novels. It seemed to be one of his most poetic novels IMO. It felt like going back home at times to The Dark Tower novels. You could feel that same magic flowing across the pages. The magic that consumes you as you read.

I know that Straub is involved in this novel. I am not too familiar with his work, but I can say that this book felt mostly King to me. It did get very very wordy at times and I felt myself saying just get on with it please. LOL But as
Michael Cairns
Mar 21, 2016 Michael Cairns rated it it was amazing
I feel biased reviewing anything by Stephen King, because he's a genius.
I'm happy to announce that the Talisman doesn't disappoint. I'd love to sit in on the writing sessions, to see how the two authors work together. I've not read anything by Peter Straub but whatever his contribution to the story, it worked.
The story is simple, as many of King's are. A young boy is tasked to cross America to save his mother. However, there's another country, called the territories, which the boy can jump int
Ms. Nikki
Aug 09, 2015 Ms. Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, audiobook
Whoever would have thought that I would have liked anything else by King? Not me.

This read had a Dark Tower vibe with the worlds and the "boy with a quest" theme.

Although it could have been shortened a bit, I very much enjoyed my time listening to this read. The narrator did a fantastic job conveying each characters' idiosyncrasies.

Recommended for adventurous coming-of-age fantasy readers.
John Wiswell
Aug 11, 2007 John Wiswell rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fantasy readers, horror readers, Harry Potter fans looking to graduate to mature fiction
This is the closest thing to Harry Potter that I'll ever love. King and Straub don't treat their child protagonist like Rowling, Funke or Barker - this kid is in for some real hardship, quickly meaningful companionship, and a truly ingenius world-hopping adventure. Jack Sawyer's mother is dying, and the only way to save her is to retrieve the magical talisman, an artifact in another world - the world Jack lost his father to. That world ("The Territories") turns out to be a microcosm of our own, ...more
Asghar Abbas
Jun 14, 2016 Asghar Abbas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

No Kingly review, but I'll enthrone this with one word; fantastic. What modern fantasy is all about by two if not one, seasoned masters.
Jul 04, 2015 Marc-Antoine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm looking forward to passing this one on to my son when he is old enough.
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Timeline question 1 23 Feb 25, 2015 06:26PM  
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Stephen Edwin King was born the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his father left them when Stephen was two, he and his older brother, David, were raised by his mother. Parts of his childhood were spent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father's family was at the time, and in Stratford, Connecticut. When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, M ...more
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Other Books in the Series

The Talisman (2 books)
  • Black House (The Talisman, #2)

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“Wolf! Right here and now!” 39 likes
“But he had never seen Myrna in practice...never that close up. He had been impressed and a little frightened by the contrast between seeing ballet on stange, where everyone seemed to either glide or mince effortlessly on the tips of their pointes. and seeing it from less than five feet away, with harsh daylight pouring in the floor-to-ceiling windows and no music- only the choreographer rythmically clapping his hands and yelling harsh criticisms. No praise, only criticisms. Their faces ran with sweat. Their leotards were wet with sweat. The room, as large and airy as it way, stank of sweat. Sleek muscles trembled and fluttered on the nervous edge of exhaustion. Corded tendons stood out like insulated cables. Throbbing veins popped out on foreheads and necks. Except for the choreographer's clapping and angry, hectoring shouts, the only sounds were the thrup-thud of ballet dancers on pointe moving across the floor and harsh, agonized panting for breath. Jack had suddenly realized that these dancers were not just earning a living, they were killing themselves. Most of all he remembered their expressions- all that exhausted concentration, all that pain... but transcending the pain, or at least creeping around its edges, he had seen joy. Joy was unmistakably what that look was, and it scared Jack because it had seemed inexplicable.” 33 likes
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