Literature: The Eyes of the Dragon

The Eyes of the Dragon is a novel written by Stephen King, published in 1987. Contrary to what you might expect from Stephen King, it's a high fantasy novel.

Roland the Good, the king of Delain, has tried to be the best king he could be. As he nears the end of his life, his son Peter will soon take his place — unless the king's magician, Flagg, can make sure Roland's younger son Thomas ascends the throne instead.

Not to be confused with The Eye of Argon.

This work provides examples of:

  • 100% Adoration Rating: Sasha, as well as Peter before he is framed.
  • Action Girl: Naomi
  • Alas, Poor Villain: The narrator is very insistent that Thomas was not a bad child. He was weak, jealous, sensitive, easily manipulated and not particularly bright, but at heart he wasn't evil.
  • All Men Are Perverts / All Women Are Prudes: Entirely inverted with Roland and Sasha. Not only does he have little interest in sex (and usually needs Flagg's potions to have it in the first place), but when he does sleep with his wife it is for her pleasure, not his own.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: Peter manages to make one out of threads plucked from the embroidered napkins given to him daily and woven together on the tiny but functional loom in the dollhouse he requested to keep in his cell over the span of several years.
  • Canon Welding: Flagg first appeared in The Stand.
    • In The Dark Tower series, Roland mentions that he met Thomas and his steward Dennis during their pursuit of Flagg after the end of the book.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Many. The peephole in the dragon skull that Flagg shows Thomas, where Thomas sees Flagg poison his father and Dennis finds out, years later, that Peter was innocent, bringing about Flagg's downfall. Peter's need for a napkin at every meal and his mother's old dollhouse are this as well.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Archery is mentioned as being Thomas's best skill, the one thing he is better at then Peter. He gets a chance to demonstrate it when he puts an arrow through Flagg's eye.
  • Covers Always Lie: Some later editions tried to market the book as being a horror novel. One such cover's tagline is "Once upon a time, there was a terror..."
  • Death by Childbirth: Sasha, while giving birth to Thomas. At least, that's what Flagg set it up to look like.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: As a king, Thomas becomes an alcoholic because he knows that Flagg poisoned Roland and framed Peter for it.
  • Evil Chancellor: Flagg.
  • Eye Scream: Thomas shoots an arrow, the same one that killed Niner, through Flagg's eye. The wound is apparently not fatal for Flagg, however.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Complicated example with Roland and Sasha, and it actually affects the disposition of their children. They have a mostly loving and satisfying relationship, but Roland is older and not particularly interested in sex, so he makes frequent use of Love Potions to be able to perform. One of the few times he doesn't need one - his moment of glory after slaying the last dragon - is the time Peter is conceived. Thomas, on the other hand, is conceived after Roland drinks an extra strong potion and engages in a violent, joyless moment of what is possibly marital rape.
  • Here There Were Dragons: Although magic still exists in Delain, dragons themselves do not; the last one, named Niner, was killed by Roland.
  • The High Queen: Sasha, who is beautiful, moral, and quick-witted. The people of the kingdom adore her.
  • Ironic Nickname: "Thomas the Lightbringer" is the tool that Flagg plans to use to plunge Delain back into Dark Age Europe.
  • Kick the Dog: Almost literally; during his childhood Thomas has a brief, rather evil moment when he finds a starving dog and, while briefly tempted to adopt it as a pet and nurse it back to health like Peter did with his lame horse, instead thinks "what if the dog was Peter?" and stones it to death. No-one witnesses it except Flagg through his scrying crystal, but seeing it pleases him greatly.
  • King on His Deathbed
  • Lemony Narrator: The unnamed storytelling narrator, who often speaks directly to the reader and shares opinions on the characters.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: Was published as such in 1984, three years before the book's official release.
  • Love Potion: Roland doesn't really like sex, so he usually drinks an aphrodisiac potion made by Flagg before having it (at first, because he needs to produce a heir, later because he wants to pleasure his wife).
  • Maternal Death? Blame the Child: Thomas imagines that not only his father, but pretty much everyone in the kingdom is thinking, "We lost your mother, and we got you instead?"
    • In something of a subversion of the trope, it's not clear that anyone actually thinks this- just that Thomas believes they do. Roland at least certainly doesn't.
  • Necronomicon: Flagg has one.
  • Oh, and X Dies: Relatively early in the story, the narrator suddenly reveals that Roland will be assassinated, and Peter will be imprisoned for it.
  • Old Man Marrying a Child: A rare positive example: Roland is fifty when he marries the seventeen-year-old Sasha, but the two seem quite happy together.
  • Parental Favoritism: Roland favors Peter over Thomas, interestingly because Thomas is just like him; not very smart and unattractive.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Flagg persuaded the king to marry Sasha because he believed that she, a very minor noble who was little more than a child at the time of the marriage, would be weak and easily manipulated. He was proven wrong when Sasha turned out to be intelligent and clever, and the king genuinely came to love her so much that Flagg backed out of a murder attempt on her because he felt the king's love for her was so great that he would not have rested until he uncovered her murderer. Although it didn't stop him from eventually figuring out a way to discreetly dispose of Sasha.
  • Portrait Painting Peephole: The titular eyes of the dragon Niner, rather than a traditional portrait; it serves the same purpose.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Thomas to Flagg: "You told me only lies, magician."
  • Puppet King: both Thomas and his father were this.
  • Rightful King Returns: The plot in the latter half of the novel.
  • Sequel Hook: The novel ends with the statement that Dennis and Thomas eventually found and confronted Flagg, but that it is a tale for another day. The Drawing of the Three makes reference to this, but almost three decades after the novel's initial publication the plotline is still dangling.
  • Shout-Out: Flagg's spellbook, which drives you mad if you read it too long, was written by Alhazred, in the land of Leng.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Peter is essentially the golden child, being handsome, intelligent, multitalented and beloved by all, whereas Thomas is a meek boy who feels overshadowed by his older brother, his only talent being archery.
  • Spare to the Throne: Thomas is a textbook case.
  • There Are Two Kinds of People in the World: Or two sides of people: "God" and "dog".
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: Flagg's spell book. It is bound in human skin, and contains spells so terrible that even Flagg won't use them.
  • Unexpected Successor: Thomas
  • Unreliable Narrator: Zig-Zagged. It's unclear if the narrator is an in-universe figure writing a historical document, or an omniscient narrator. At times he acknowledges that he doesn't know something (such as Flagg's origin), but other times he gives information he should have no way of knowing (such as several previous times Flagg visited the kingdom). It could be argued he was simply spice up the story with speculation presented as fact.
  • Walking the Earth: The fate of Thomas and Dennis.


Alternative Title(s):

The Eyes Of The Dragon