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The Talisman

(The Talisman #1)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  99,067 ratings  ·  2,913 reviews
Twelve-year-old Jack spends his days alone in a deserted coastal town, his father gone, his mother dying. Then he meets a stranger - and embarks on a terrifying journey. For Jack must find the Talisman, the only thing that can save his mother.

His quest takes him into the menacing Territories, a parallel world where violence, surprise and the titanic struggle between good a
Kindle Edition, 785 pages
Published July 5th 2012 by Orion (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)
Stephen Just because something is great doesn't mean there needs to be a movie. Take "The Catcher in The Rye," e.g., IT doesn't have a movie, but it's…moreJust because something is great doesn't mean there needs to be a movie. Take "The Catcher in The Rye," e.g., IT doesn't have a movie, but it's considered to be one of the greatest fiction ever written.

It was very popular in the eighties and became the #1 National Bestseller. It made people become more interested in fantasy, and without it, the huge fantasy spark in the last decade may have never happened.

Perhaps the reason you've never heard of it is BECAUSE there isn't a movie, because it seems like today, the only way you hear about books in mainstream media is if there's a movie based off of it. Its a fact that a book sells quickly when people hear about a new movie based off of it. This year, The BFG is a summer movie, and the book by Roald Dahl became a new Amazon bestseller because of it.(less)
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4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  99,067 ratings  ·  2,913 reviews

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Nov 04, 2007 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
Dan Schwent
Feb 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, horror, 2017-books
Twelve year old Jack Sawyer's mother is dying of cancer and the only thing that can save her is The Talisman. Can Jack cross America and The Territories to claim it and save his mother?

I first read The Talisman while waiting for the last three Dark Tower books to be published. Thanks to the magic of getting older, I forgot 95% of what happened. When the ebook fell into my lap, I was ready for a reread.

Brief Side Bar: This book fell into my lap because Goodreads offered me an ebook of my choice
Mar 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weird book.

The great thing about us residents of the country of READING is that we are a diverse, eclectic bunch. We like and dislike all sorts of different books and for different reasons. Sometimes a few of us will like a book or writer, but for completely different motivations and coming from different perspectives altogether.

“It had great action”

“There was wonderful characterization and dialogue”

“It was a clever allegory and well written.”

Etc. etc.

And so we come to Stephen King’s 1984 collab
Johann (jobis89)
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Everything goes away, Jack Sawyer, like the moon. Everything comes back, like the moon.”

Only the Talisman will save young Jack Sawyer’s dying mother and he must embark on a quest across America (and into another world) in order to obtain it.

I had been anticipating The Talisman since forever, I can’t even put my finger on why, I just had the feeling it would be a book I would fall in love with. And if I’m completely honest, it just wasn’t what I had hyped it up to be in my head. I still REALLY e
4.5 Stars. Can't classify this one as horror, but THE TALISMAN is one wild and woolly action-packed fantasy ride!

"Traveling" Jack Sawyer is a good kid and 12 years old when he and his mother flee Los Angeles for New York ultimately ending up in an empty, creepy hotel in New Hampshire; and while Jack questions the moves, he knows deep down his mother is not well.

As the days pass and his mother's rest periods become more frequent, a worrisome Jack explores a closed amusement park nearby and is soo

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
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
Sep 16, 2010 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
May 09, 2010 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
Guess who finally finished the World's Longest Buddy Read?


Twelve-year-old Jack Sawyer has one mighty task ahead of him. He must make a journey across the country in order to save his mother. A quest? Aye, you bet. A quest worthy of another young lad we know and love- Jake Chambers. Twinners? Mayhap, mayhap not.

Jack’s father died leaving him with his b-list movie star mother. She’s dying of cancer. Sucking on cigarettes and living the good life, she knows her son must go. Even if she doesn’t
Sadie Hartmann Mother Horror
In 2019 I'm going to go back and review the King books I love and cherished but never fully reviewed for Goodreads because Goodreads wasn't a thing when I was reading King's work in the 90s. You can follow along on Instagram #ReviewKing2019

The Talisman is my favorite author collaboration. Two of my favorite authors, Straub & King, combined their unique storytelling voices to pen one of my all time favorite, dark fantasies.
I first read this on a family vacation to Dillon Beach, CA. We rented
Marnie  Krüger
2018 Reading Challenge
2018 Subjects Specific Reading Challenge
I have 30 books with specific subjects that I need to read

Book 16: A book by two or more authors
Stephen King and Peter Straub

Magical adventure

First Sentence: On September 15th, 1981, a boy named Jack Sawyer stood where the water and land come together, hands in the pockets of his jeans, looking out at the steady Atlantic.

Having read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn just recently; it is easy to see what have sparked the i
Jan 17, 2014 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
Edward Lorn
2.5 stars.

In many ways this book reminds me of myself. A bullet train at each end couldn't convincingly carry its massively distended midsection. Only way to get that bloated middle moving would be to tear it out and fashion a sail out of its pages. Still, the beginning and the end could bald new tires tearing ass out of the gate and across the finish line. That middle tho...that shit's a pitstop when you've got a full tank and four new shoes.

Leo .
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Classic! Epic! Timeless! Two of my all time favourite authors. 🐯👍
HT Goodwill
Jun 04, 2007 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
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
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
Oct 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I was reading this book I kept thinking about The Dark Tower series. There were a lot of similarities. And don't these horror writers love their old hotels and fairgrounds as settings. King makes use of both in The Talisman to great effect. I enjoyed this book very much but it was a labour of love to read it. At times it became very wordy and occasionally even a little overdone. Too much gruesome stuff and the reader eventually becomes blasé. I liked the main character, Jack, particularly whe ...more
Alrighty, well, this is going to be a short and sweet review, because I've read this book 73 times and have already reviewed it twice on Goodreads previously, and I'm feeling rather review-lazy today.

If you want to check out either of those previous reviews, here are links:
2010 read:
2016 read:

That is all. :)
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
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
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
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
Jan 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Rebecca McNutt
Dec 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, fiction, fantasy
Stephen King is well-known for his work in the horror genre, but his fantasy works are even more impressive, as evident in this modern story with extraordinary themes.
مشاري الإبراهيم

Horrible experience. I literally stopped reading the book 3 chapters before the story ends. I just couldn't.

There was an excessive use of unnecessary side characters and side 'quests'. The whole part of Jack Sawyer in the tavern was useless and so painful to read.

The transitions between certain scenes were unclear in many cases. One minute someone is completely well, the next page they are sick and dying. I felt the flow wasn't seamless.

Stephen Ki
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,
Samantha Leighanne
Jack Sawyer is 12 years old, and his mother is dying in a hotel on the other side of the country from sunny California, where there are from. Then he meets Speedy Parker and he is thrown into a mission and another world, the Territories, that is much different from his own. He has set out to find the Talisman and must travel from one coast to another to bring it back so he can save his mother and Queen Laura, his mother's "twinner", from death.

If you have read the Dark Tower series, I suggest t
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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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The Talisman (2 books)
  • Black House (The Talisman, #2)
“Wolf! Right here and now!” 57 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.” 41 likes
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