The Eyes of the Dragon

The Eyes of the Dragon  
First edition cover
Author(s) Stephen King
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Fantasy
Publisher Viking
Publication date February 2, 1987
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 326
ISBN 978-0670814589
Preceded by It
Followed by Misery

The Eyes of the Dragon is a novel by Stephen King published in 1987. Previously, it was published as a limited edition hardcover by Philtrum Press in 1984. The mass-market version had been slightly revised for publication. At the time it was a surprising deviation from the norm for King, who is best known for his horror fiction. This book is a work of classic fantasy, with a clearly established battle between good and evil, with magic playing a lead role.


Plot summary

Title page from the original 1984 Philtrum Press edition (book issued without cover)

The Eyes of the Dragon takes place entirely within the realm of Delain (which itself is located within In-World from The Dark Tower series). It is told from the perspective of an unnamed story-teller, who speaks casually and frankly to the reader, frequently adding his own commentary on characters' motivations and the like. At the beginning, Flagg secretly attempts to assassinate Queen Sasha. He finally succeeds in forcing the Queen's maid to cut the queen while she was giving birth to Thomas, her second child, making her bleed to death. As time passes, and Peter, the older brother, grows older, it becomes more obvious to Flagg that the Crown Prince is a far greater threat to his position as royal wizard than was Sasha. Therefore Flagg has King Roland poisoned and Peter framed for the murder. Thomas witnesses this through the glass eyes of the mounted head of Roland's greatest trophy, the dragon. After a brief trial, during which the judge decides Peter is guilty, he is locked up in the enormous tower called the Needle in the center of the city. Thomas is then crowned King, although he is only twelve years old; due to his youth and his fearful inexperience, he allows Flagg enormous amounts of power. At the start of his long stay in the Needle, Peter manages to send a note to the judge who convicted him, Anders Peyna, with instructions by which to help rescue him. Peter escapes, with the help of his mother's dollhouse, and napkins which he asked for. After the escape he and his allies rush to get Roland’s bow and arrow. However, it is not to be found because Thomas had it once they got into the king's "sitting room". Flagg, now revealed as a demonic being, is about to kill them when Thomas reveals himself and tells Flagg that he (Thomas) watched Flagg poison Roland. Thomas shoots Flagg in the eye, but Flagg uses magic to disappear and escape. At the end of the novel, Peter is declared to be the rightful king. Thomas, who has become deeply hated in Delain, sets off alongside his butler Dennis to find Flagg. They find him and they confront him, but the outcome is never told.


Flagg (pictured right) with King Peter from Eyes of the Dragon. Art by David Palladini.
  • King Roland- The King of Delain. While renowned for slaying a dragon in his younger, more virile days, he has now become somewhat infirm and addled. He trusts Flagg, his advisor, but little does he realize that Flagg intends ill will toward Roland. However, early in the story he does favor his wife's advice more than Flagg's. He also is the father of both Thomas and Peter.
  • Flagg- The Advisor to the King. Flagg is a powerful magician and has been around for centuries. In his incarnation in Eyes of the Dragon, he has served as an advisor to four successive monarchs: Roland's grandparents and parents, Roland himself, and Thomas. Though he has lived in Delain for roughly seventy years, he has only appeared to age ten. Later in the story, it is revealed that he has appeared in Delain multiple times, under multiple guises, the oldest of which that is mentioned in the book took place over five hundred years in the past. His ultimate goal is to cause Delain to overthrow the monarchy and be plunged into "a thousand years of bloody anarchy, give or take a few years". Flagg, whose first name is not identified here but is Randall in other books, can be found in some form in quite a few of King's novels. In The Stand, he is the personification of evil. He plays a part in the Dark Tower novels as well. Coincidentally or purposefully, the initials R.F. are used randomly in the names of antagonistic characters in a number of other Stephen King works.[1]
  • Peter- Roland's older son and the heir to the throne. Peter is a tall, lithe, handsome young man who has inherited his mother's good looks and his father's love of the common man. He is the clear favorite among the people to be the next King.
  • Thomas- Roland's younger son. Thomas takes after Roland in that he is slow and heavy even in youth. He (rightfully) feels overshadowed by Peter and resents his brother in the knowledge that Roland clearly loves Peter more. He is, however, a talented archer like his father, and in this he can outstrip even Peter. As Thomas gets older, Flagg becomes his only friend and sole source of comfort. Crowned "Thomas the Light-Bringer," he soon receives the nickname "Thomas the Tax-Bringer" due to the merciless 80% tax increase he imposed upon the people of Delain at the urging of Flagg.
  • Queen Sasha- Roland's wife and the mother of Peter and Thomas. Sasha was chosen for Roland because she was an innocent girl from a lesser noble family and seemed to be the shyest of the lot that Flagg had selected for Roland. Flagg also believed she posed the least long-term threat to his authority. Roland chose her since she seemed the least likely to frighten him. However, she revealed herself to be a strong, independent woman, who truly loved (and was loved in return by) both Roland and the kingdom. She was murdered under Flagg's orders while giving birth to Thomas.
  • Ben Staad- Peter's best friend. The Staad family is described as the most unlucky family within Delain; but Ben and Peter strike up a close friendship. Ben is strong, handsome and loyal.
  • Dennis - Peter's butler. Dennis' family has been butlers to the royals of Delain for centuries, and Dennis takes great pride in his work. He is complicit in Peter's imprisonment. This is because he found the poison that killed King Roland inside of Peter's room. He was then later transferred to serving as Thomas' butler upon his father's death. He then aids in Peter's escape. He later goes with Thomas on his quest to find Flagg.
  • Naomi- A peasant girl who is with the exiles (a developing resistance group). Who helps Ben to find where Dennis is with the aid of her dog, Frisky. She later marries Ben.
  • Anders Peyna- The Kingdom's High Judge. The people are far more afraid of Peyna than they are of the King. It is Peyna who condemns Peter to his imprisonment, but later believes in the prince's innocence. Along with Dennis and Ben Staad, he helps Peter escape from the Needle by funding for the napkins which he escaped with.

Crossovers and allusions

  • Flagg (Randall Flagg), the villain of this story, is directly involved with the Dark Tower series, appearing as one of Roland of Gilead's main antagonists. He is also the main antagonist in The Stand. King hinted, in the afterword to The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass, that the "wandering youths from Eyes of the Dragon" (presumably Thomas and Dennis, who had gone on a quest to find and destroy Flagg at the end of the novel) would make an appearance in the Dark Tower series; but they were only briefly mentioned in The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three where Roland says that he encountered both Flagg and Thomas and Dennis.
  • King references H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos when he mentions that Flagg's spellbook was "written on the high, distant Plains of Leng by a madman named Alhazred", is bound in human flesh, and can cause madness by too much exposure.
  • In The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah, when asked about his grandfather Alaric, Roland says that Alaric went to Garlan, the land next to Delain, to slay a dragon but got there too late because the last dragon in that part of the world had already been killed by another king who was later murdered.
  • Delain is scathingly mentioned in another King short story, The Little Sisters of Eluria, as a country of liars.
  • In a passage where the narrator is describing a profoundly hurtful, jealousy-rousing experience for Thomas, King references a Stephen Crane poem when he writes [emphasis added]:

    He felt as if someone had reached into his chest and cut off a tiny piece of his heart and made him eat it.
    His heart tasted very bitter to him, and he hated Peter more than ever, although part of him still loved his
    handsome older brother and always would.
            And although the taste had been bitter, he had liked it.
            Because it was his heart.

    The Crane line reads:

    In the desert
    I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
    who, squatting upon the ground,
    Held his heart in his hands,
    And ate of it.
    I said, "Is it good, friend?"
    "It is bitter bitter," he answered;
    "But I like it
    Because it is bitter,
    And because it is my heart."

Animated movie

Approximately ten years ago The Eyes of the Dragon was optioned by a French company but the option lapsed.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Alissa Stickler, The (Mid)Evil Nightmare of Yesterday and Tomorrow: Flagg as the Immortal Monster in Stephen King's The Eyes of the Dragon and The Stand," in: The Year's Work of Medievalism 15 (2002), ed. Jesse Swan and Richard Utz.

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