Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Talisman (The Talisman, #1)” as Want to Read:
The Talisman (The Talisman, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Talisman

(The Talisman #1)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  118,866 ratings  ·  4,162 reviews
Two of the world's bestselling authors have combined their unique talents in an unforgettable epic of fantasy, adventure, odyssey - and spine-tingling terror.

You are about to take a journey... a terrifying trip across America where young Jack Sawyer is searching for the Talisman, the only thing that can save his dying mother. His quest takes him into the menacing Territori
Hardcover, 656 pages
Published September 15th 2001 by Random House (first published 1984)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Talisman, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Vanessa Haynes I helped raise my sister, & I gave this to her to read when she was around 11-12. She loved it, because it's a story of a self-reliant kid, going on a…moreI helped raise my sister, & I gave this to her to read when she was around 11-12. She loved it, because it's a story of a self-reliant kid, going on an adventure. Was he scared? Sure. But he faced his fears, & carried on with what he had to do. It taught her that you're more capable than you realize, face your fears and carry on. I think most kids today in the 10-12 year old age range would be able to handle this book.(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 conside…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)
The Stand by Stephen KingIt by Stephen KingThe Shining by Stephen KingMisery by Stephen King'Salem's Lot by Stephen King
Best of Stephen King
143 books — 3,658 voters
The Shining by Stephen KingIt by Stephen King'Salem's Lot by Stephen KingDracula by Bram StokerPet Sematary by Stephen King
Best Horror Novels
1,870 books — 5,509 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  118,866 ratings  ·  4,162 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Talisman (The Talisman, #1)
Nov 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Mario the lone bookwolf
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: king-stephen
I wish King would have more often cooperated with other authors, this one is in some parts so different than his general work and I would really like to know who wrote which parts and how it must generally be to have the honor of working together with the King. You lucky person, Mr. Straub, you lucky person.

King writes far too few dark high fantasy with worldbuilding and in this one, we see the potential of the (view spoiler)
Mar 06, 2018 rated it liked it
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
Feb 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, 2017, 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
4.5 to 5 stars

The Talisman is quite epic and not necessarily for the casual King fan. If you happen to try and make this your first King book ever, you may not want to try anymore - and you might not even make it through this one. But, if you have read several of his "shorter" books, dabbled in some of his bigger offerings (The Stand, IT, etc.), and maybe even taken in a Dark Tower book or two, I think you will be ready to graduate to The Talisman.

It doesn't quite feel like a King book. That mak
A 12 year old boy has to cross the United States from East to West coasts to hopefully save his dying mother's life. He can go by the conventional route or via the alternate world of the American Territories(!). Not only must he find the Talisman to save her life, but also to subvert an emerging and growing evil. You get the gist, it's in the book blurb.

More a fantasy story than a tale of horror, I'll just call it supernatural horror. A typical King (and Straub) venture with countless sub-arcs,
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

“You don’t own a thing unless you can give it up, what does it profit a man, it profits him nothing, it profits him zilch, and you don’t learn that in school, you learn it on the road, you learn it from Ferd Janklow, and Wolf, and Richard going head-first into the rocks like a Titan II that didn’t fire off right.”
The Talisman ~~ Stephen King


Believe it or not, THE TALISMAN is the first Stephen King novel I have read. I wish I hadn't put reading King off for so long. I would have loved him in my t
Dec 07, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A really bad book. Strange, because it belongs to the "old" King, the one pre-2000, the one who still wrote because he liked it, not just to make money. And yet this book is really bad; slow, not very incisive, not very intriguing, with zero inventiveness. King probably has to write alone, because when he tries to write with other authors it becomes really unreadable. Proof of this is when he writes with his son ... To forget. ...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!)
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
Pantelis Andreou
‘Everything has consequences, and some of those consequences might be on the uncomfortable side.’

I finally made it... that was a huge book.. Look I’m all in for big books but this one surely didn’t have to be that long...

Some parts surely were very exciting and filled with high tension but some other parts were moving like a slug and i felt like i was drifting to some other territories of my mind.

I kept saying to myself that this is not a dark tower book, this is not a dark tower book but I coul
Sep 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror, fantasy
Review talisman

There is a running debate among King fans whether the early Stephen King books (first published during the 70s and 80s) are better than the post-millennium modern King. Like all such debates, there is no right answer, as it is entirely subjective. Of his post-2000 books I have only read 11/22/63 which I think is very good, but it did not leave a deep impression like his “classic” works, The Stand, The Shining etc. The Talisman (first published in 1984) is King’s first collabor
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
Oct 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: king-books
I really enjoyed reading this! I thought it was pretty good. It was my first time reading it so I had no idea what to expect. Basically, it's the story of Jack who is 12 years old. He has to go on an epic quest across the country so he can try to save his mom from dying of cancer. I've always thought King writes from the point of view of children really well. This story is no exception. While there are a few horror elements, I wouldn't necessarily call this a horror story. I'd call it more of an ...more
Jan 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Truly wondrous. My memories of my first read of The Talisman definitely do NOT do the original justice. The re-read also comes on the heels of a vast re-read of all the other SK reads with their connections to DT and the fact that everything follows the beam.

Of course, I may have judged this book entirely on its merit compared to all the other SK books I had read up to that point by 1989 when I read this last.

The obvious: this is a straight adventure novel that takes place half the time in 1980
May 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Sadie Hartmann
Jan 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: king
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 a ho
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Genre: Fantasy + Horror

Jack Sawyer is a twelve years old boy who has to go on a long journey to find a crystal called The Talisman. He needs it to save his mother who is dying from cancer. Through this journey, he faces some hardships and enemies. He also makes some friends who will support him on his mission. This fantasy story is set in parallel worlds. The other world is called Territories and the parallel individuals there are called Twinners. These Twinners can migrate to the ot
Kevin Bessey
Jun 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
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
Chelsea Havard
It took me a while to get through this one. It had moments that kept me captivated but then I would lose a bit of interest on some parts.
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.

Marnie  (Enchanted Bibliophile)
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
HT Goodwill
Jun 04, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
Sara the Librarian
I defy you to find me a greater, more perfectly attune, collaborative duo than Stephen King and Peter Straub.



I'll wait.

See! You couldn't do it!

These are two men who traffic in the dark. Authors who have spent their careers crafting nightmares. One prefers the harder stuff, brutal, bloody, lots of cursing and (for some reason) more references to shit and farting than have ever made me entirely comfortable (anyone else remember the book about people shitting out aliens? "Dreamcatche
Leo .
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Classic! Epic! Timeless! Two of my all time favourite authors. 🐯👍
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Peter Straub did not write "The Talisman"... 1 3 Sep 20, 2022 05:44PM  
Stephen King Fans: Part 1 Talisman-Jack Lights Out 57 553 Sep 09, 2022 09:09AM  
Stephen King 2022...: Already August?! 3 12 Aug 07, 2022 08:13PM  
2022 Reading Chal...: This topic has been closed to new comments. The Talisman #1 20 35 Aug 03, 2021 09:22PM  
Stephen King Fans: The Talisman Coming To Netflix 13 80 Mar 09, 2021 01:41AM  
YA Buddy Readers'...: The Tailsman by Stephen King (The Talisman #1) - Restarting January 8th 2021 32 63 Jan 19, 2021 08:28AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Thinner
  • Roadwork
  • The Regulators
  • The Running Man
  • The Talisman: The Road of Trials #1
  • The Long Walk
  • Blaze
  • Gwendy's Magic Feather (The Button Box, #2)
  • Rage
  • Ghost Story
  • The Road to the Dark Tower: Exploring Stephen King's Magnum Opus
  • Floating Dragon
  • 20th Century Ghosts
  • The Body
  • Satan Wants Me
  • Charlie the Choo-Choo
  • The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King - Summary & Study Guide
  • The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born #1
See similar books…
See top shelves…
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

Other books in the series

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

Related Articles

  Connoisseurs of horror fiction can tell you: The genre is much more sophisticated and generous than its reputation might suggest. There...
63 likes · 5 comments
“Wolf! Right here and now!” 68 likes
“He began to cry, not hysterically or screaming as people cry when concealed rage with tears, but with continuous sobs who has just discovered that he's alone and will be for long. He cried because safety and reason seemed to have left the world. Loneliness was a reality, but in this situation madness was also remotely a possibility.” 47 likes
More quotes…