The Talisman
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The Talisman (The Talisman #1)

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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  59,509 ratings  ·  1,511 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, 735 pages
Published by Ballantine Books (first published 1984)
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Community Reviews

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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...more
Lisa
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...more
Lou
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
Dustin
Jan 03, 2013 Dustin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: I think everyone should read it, at least once
Shelves: classics, favorites


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...more
Kathryn
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...more
Becky
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...more
Brian
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...more
Stephen
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
Nikki
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
Chris
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...more
HT Goodwill
Jun 29, 2007 HT Goodwill rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Shannon
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
Janie Johnson
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...more
John Wiswell
Aug 11, 2007 John Wiswell rated it 5 of 5 stars 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
sj
I should probably bump this up to five stars, but I'm kind of unwilling to do that for some reason.

I don't even know why right now.

I quote this book to myself all the time ("right here and now," "fushing feef," etc), but I can't quite give it the full five.

I read this for the first time when I was 14. I was a freshman and had a friend that was a few years older than me. A group of us were driving around one day (probably high as hell, not gonna lie) and I was digging through the crap he had in t...more
Dawn
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
Scott Rhee
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,...more
Amy
For people who may not be Stephen King fans, this book may change your mind. Most people think of Stephen King as strickly a horror writer, but some of his best books are not scary (in the traditional "something icky and creepy is hiding in my closet" sense) at all. This book is more about hope and commitment to a cause. Bet you never thought you'd hear someone say that about a King book!!

And those of you who only think of King as a horror author, try reading The Body or Rita Hayworth and the Sh...more
Jeff
Jul 16, 2008 Jeff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: fans of Stephen King and the Dark Tower series
Recommended to Jeff by: Taft Babbitt
I played a game while reading this book: I tried to figure out which author, Stephen King or Peter Straub, had written what I was currently reading. Though both authors have an overly descriptive and sometimes long-winded approach, Straub tends to be more so, while King has developed a unique style that is truly his own.

Another thing I like about King's writing is how he incorporates other works into his stories. Whether it's name dropping or mentioning another town, he has truly created a web-l...more
Kate
I think this is one of Stephen King's best books (maybe Peter Straub had a hand in that, but I haven't really loved anything I've read by Peter Straub, so I'm just gonna chalk it up to Stephen King). The story has an epic feel, and the way the characters move between two worlds--ours and what I consider to be the private nightmare world of Stephen King--is really creepy. The Dark Tower series goes into this territory quite a bit. There are scenes that I can still vividly remember now, 7 years la...more
Rhockman
Es un libro muy extenso con buenos y malos momentos; y al ser tan largo por momentos tuve la impresión de haber estado intercalando libros aburridos y libros entretenidos.

De alguna forma invierte lo que suele ser la literatura fantástica para adolescentes; hay un muchacho héroe pero que lidia con el cancer, el acoso, la corrupción policial, el fanatismo religioso, y en segundo lugar viaja por el mundo, lucha con seres fantásticos y recoge objetos mágicos.

Más allá de todo, este libro refuerza dos...more
Lowed
This has the making of a really good novel. But to say that this is "the most compelling, and most frightening book of the decade." Well, maybe from 2 decades ago! Don't get me wrong, but I love Stephen King. His Tommyknockers and IT kept me occupied for a better two months of my life back then.

There's just something in this book that doesn't feel right. Could it could be because they have paired two "great" authors of the horror fiction genre and crafted a fantasy book instead.?

Well, I'm not s...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Pretty Good.... a good job of universe building with the unmistakable touch of Stephen King in it's painful moments. My wife never got over (view spoiler)

Had to come back and update this. I reread this and found I'd left a major spoiler...sorry.
Dustin
Dec 20, 2008 Dustin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Everyone
By far, one of the greatest Stephen King (and I guess Peter Straub) books ever. I remember liking it a lot when I first read it, but on a second reading, having read so much of his other work, especially the complete Dark Tower, I can see this book in a new light.

A deep and thorough exploration of one of the multiple universes that comes into play in the Dark Tower, the drama and excitement, twists and turns make reading this book almost a compulsive exercise. Instead of saying 'it was hard to...more
Crissy
Remember when you were a kid, and there was a special other world that you could go to any time you wanted, just by concentrating really hard? Maybe in your other world your best friend was a dragon, or an old oak tree that told you secrets, or your detachable shadow... or some other thing that the adults in your world chalked up to "an active imagination." It didn't matter what the grown-ups said, though, because you knew your other world was real.

The Talisman knows about that secret world, and...more
Olethros
-Escrito a cuatro manos ofreciendo algo más (y distinto) que la suma de las partes.-

Género. Narrativa Fantástica.

Lo que nos cuenta. Jack Sawyer, de doce años, ha cambiado de residencia varias veces en los últimos tiempos de la mano de su madre, actriz madura y venida a menos, y ahora reside en un hotel de la costa de New Hampshire. Jack siente cosas, las nota, y cuando entabla amistad con Lester Speedy Parker comenzará a saber (o tal vez recordar) que hay otras realidades muy relacionadas con l...more
Emily Landry
I'm not sure where to even begin with a review. I'm oddly speechless. What an epic, epic journey this book has been. I feel like my copy IS a Talisman that transports me into the Territories. This makes me extremely excited for The Dark Tower novels, because wow. The first few chapters were extremely slow going, but once Jack flips for the first time, it's ON. I feel like I personally walked across the country myself. This story grabs you and doesnt let go until the very last page. There's so mu...more
Jonathan
I thought I would give fantasy a shot, plus it was co-written by another author. Interesting story, but would probably be better as a twilight zone episode cause the writing, of course sucked. Boring all together.
Jane Stewart
Weak 3 stars. One long quest/journey. I was not enchanted. At best I was curious. The parallel universe was interesting.

Jack is twelve years old. A wise old man “Speedy” tells Jack about an alternate world called the Territories, with many of the same people called twinners. Jack’s mother Lily is dying of cancer. Lily’s twinner in the Territories is Laura who is Queen of the Territories. Laura is also ill. Speedy tells Jack he can save the lives of Lily and Laura if he gets the Talisman which is...more
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...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
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Stephen King Fans: Part 1 Talisman-Jack Lights Out 34 268 Jan 24, 2014 08:33PM  
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Stephen King Fans: Part 4-The talisman 31 203 Dec 18, 2013 08:46PM  
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FUTURISTIC PERSPECTIVE OUTLAWS TECHNOLOGY 4 60 Oct 01, 2013 02:40PM  
Stephen King Fans: The Talisman *Beware - Here Be Spoilers* 34 288 Jul 27, 2013 12:44PM  
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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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“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.” 23 likes
“Wolf! Right here and now!” 19 likes
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