Jack's mother is sick. Very sick. Worse, they're both on the run from friendly old uncle
Morgan in New York, former business partner of Jack's father. But an old black wino lets him in on a little secret: That there is something he can do about it. Jack's going to have to go on a little trip, though. All the way back to California, though not quite 'his
' California. And he's going to have to go on foot looking for something called The Talisman. Only a lot more seems to be at stake than just his mother and some parties are very
interested in Jack as well as the Talisman itself.
Cowritten by Peter Straub and Stephen King
, it touches on elements of King's Dark Tower
series. It also has a sequel called Black House
Tropes found here include:
- Agent Scully: Richard Sloat goes through elaborate lengths to explain away the incresingly supernatural events that Jack brings into his life, ultimately concluding that the blatant magic he encounters is hallucinations caused by dementia. This is broken when he sees an absurdly simple Territories clock (a giant hourglass), and realized that he was incapable of imagining something that simple -if he were to imagine a primitive clock, it would be full of giant gears and extremely complex- that he accepts what happened. This extended, for his entire life up to that point, to an extreme disdain for all forms of fiction (he was a voracious reader, but exclusively in non-fiction), and an ambition to become a research chemist.
- A God Am I: Subverted. The Talisman offers Jack godhood when he first touches it. Terrified, he immediately rejects the opportunity— he'd only wanted to use the Talisman to save his mother's life.
- Alternate Dimension: We only see our world and the world Jack flips to, but there are a lot more than that.
- Alternate Self: Our world has a lot more people than the Territories do, so you can't quite say 'everyone' has one (except maybe for a third world) but quite a lot do. Alternate selves do not necessarily look the same and can in fact be very different. Personalities may not be the same either, such as Morgan of Orris being much more ruthless than Morgan Sloat. However, fundamentally they are you.
- Ambition Is Evil: Morgan Sloat. Though he wasn't as bad as Morgan of Orris.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Most of them are either evil or cowed into submission.
- Badass: Parkus
- Berserk Button: You do not hurt Wolf's herd. Since Jack has essentially been adopted as Wolf's new herd, that means Jack's enemies had better be very cautious.
- Big Bad: Morgan Sloat/Morgan of Orris.
- The Brute: Heck Bast.
- Bury Your Gays: Played with. Jack's Uncle Tommy wasn't killed simply because he was gay, but because he had been entrusted to take care of Jack and his mother, and that threw a wrench in Morgan's plans. That didn't stop Morgan from using Tommy's homosexuality as a convenient way to explain away his murder, though.
- Canon Welding: Later made part of the Dark Tower continuity.
- Cold-Blooded Torture / Cool and Unusual Punishment: Sunlight Gardener is very fond of this, especially when it comes to Jack and Wolf.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Morgan
- Dark World: The Territories. They are not quite bad and in fact often very beautiful, but it tends to be a lot more savage and things that happened in our world tend to be much nastier on that side.
- Dead Alternate Counterpart: If you have an Alternate Self in "The Territories", you can flip into their mind when you travel between worlds. But if you don't, like Jacky, whose Twinner was murdered as a child, you remain yourself.
- Departure Means Death: Wolf gets sick and listless the longer he spends in our world. Eventually he's killed by Jack's enemies, though it's not clear if just living in our world would have killed him by itself.
- The Dragon: Osmond/Sunlight Gardener.
- The Dreaded: Morgan of Orris. Even his followers are terrified of him.
- Dumb Is Good: Wolfs
- Dying Moment of Awesome / Heroic Sacrifice / Papa Wolf: Wolf dies saving Jack from Sunlight Gardener's lackeys while trapped and weakened in our world.
- Dying Town: Oatley, New York.
- Establishing Character Moment: The psychotic Osmond gets one in his first appearance— he whips Jack's back to shreds when Jack doesn't answer his questions, and then moments later does the same thing to an unfortunate carriage driver who has displeased him. Jack notes with horror that Osmond is actually laughing as he whips the man to death.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Sunlight Gardener and Morgan Sloat genuinely love their sons. For Morgan, Richard acted as something of a restraining bolt. However, Morgan of Orris' son had already died and does not give a shit about Richard and thus takes over in the end.
- Even the Guys Want Him: Debatable. After he visited the Territories, practically every male Jack has met was stricken by his beauty. However, this is attributed to the inhabitants of Earth just being drawn by the power of the Territories they felt in him. The use of this trope also crosses over into Stupid Sexy Flanders several times.
- The Fundamentalist: Sunlight Gardener.
- Gang of Bullies: Several of the Sunlight Home residents are this to Jack and Wolf. Which leads to them becoming Asshole Victims later on.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Morgan
- Hell Hotel
- Here There Were Dragons: Our world. Wolf notes that the magic isn't entirely gone, but it's very, very weak.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Oh god, poor Wolf...
- Involuntary Shapeshifting: If Wolfs become too upset, they will turn into their werewolf forms even if it is not the full moon. It's painful to do it like this. Wolf eventually transforms, saves Jack and dies.
- Jerkass: A very, very charitable description of Smokey.
- Kid Hero
- The Lancer: Wolf and Richard.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Practically everyone who has ever hurt Jack gets their comeuppance in some way after Jack finds the Talisman. Yes, that extends to minor characters as well.
- Magical Land: The Territories.
- Magical Negro: Speedy Parker. Only he's really basically just acting. Parker is really Parkus, a gunslinger and faithful retainer to the queen and all around badass. Morgan of Orris' side appears to be quite scared of him, but he doesn't do anything directly.
- Magic Feather: The 'juice' that Parker gives to Jack doesn't do anything but make it easier for him to think he can flip into the other world.
- Maximum Fun Chamber: The Box.
- Mistaken for Gay: Happens to Jack and Wolf in the Sunlight Home. It doesn't go well for either of them.
- Offing the Offspring: At the end of the book, Morgan of Orris takes over the less evil but still ruthless Morgan Sloat and 'they' decide that if Richard stands in their way, then they will kill him as well.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: Wolfs are basically the royal shepherds and are actually very nice except at the full moon itself. They don't seem to be terribly bright.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Osmond/Gardener frequently refers to Speedy as "the nigger".
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: The queen would if she wasn't, you know, dying. The former king was apparently an awesome guy and very popular. He traveled a lot around his kingdom doing kingly stuff.
- Sacrificial Lion: Ferd Janklow.
- Silver Bullet: Sunlight Gardener's horrible, monstrous son is dealt with through use of a silver coin shoved in his forehead. Subverted with Wolf, who is killed by conventional bullets.
- Tempting Fate: A boy proudly proclaims, "When you're strong in the Lord, there's no reason to ever be afraid!" just before being decapitated by Wolf.
- Textual Celebrity Resemblance: A sinister Oatley Tap patron is described as looking like Western movie actor Randolph Scott.
- Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Richard Sloat followed his father to The Territories one night on vacation. It didn't end well...
- Verbal Tic: Wolf: "Wolf! Wolf! Right here and now!"
- Victory Guided Amnesia: Richard begins to lose all memories of his time in the Territories soon after their quest is over. Considering his best friend killed his father, he'd been forced to accept that his father deserved it and that the Territories do exist in reality (almost going insane in the process), this could be seen as a more merciful example.
- Villainous Breakdown: Gardener and Sonny have this during Wolf's rampage.
- Gardener/Osmond have an even bigger one when their sons are killed by Jack. They don't recover.
- When Trees Attack: Type 1. The reason why Morgan of Orris doesn't bother to search the forest for Jack. (OUR boy? YESSSSSS!)
- Wham Line: "Dat Poiple Jesus you drinkin', boy?"
- The Wise Prince: Jack is the twinner of the dead prince who 'helps' as the story goes on. As someone identical to the dead prince, Jack himself qualifies.