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Blaze is an early novel written by Stephen King that predates even Carrie. Finding it to be overtly sentimental, King shelved it. He later rediscovered it in the attic and, with much revision, published it in 2007 under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman.

Clayton Blaisdell, Jr., also known as "Blaze", is a mentally challenged con artist. Under the guidance of the 'ghost' of his dead partner, kidnaps the infant son of a wealthy millionaire for ransom. The plan begins to crumble as Blaze begins to bond with the baby.


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This work contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: When he was a child, Blaze's father threw him down the stairs three times for interrupting his television, giving him permanent brain damage in the process.
  • Accidental Murder: Blaze is caught in the act while kidnapping Joe by the baby's great-aunt, and knocks her out cold. She succumbs to her injuries the following day.
  • Adult Fear: Your infant son is abducted from your own home, in the middle of the night. And adding insult to injury, the kidnapper gained access through your own bedroom window.
  • Badass and Baby: Blaze and Joe.
  • Beardness Protection Program: Barely a day after the kidnapping, a police sketch of Blaze is put in the newspaper. While the sketch isn't that accurate, Blaze still decides to shave himself bald in order to avoid recognition.
  • Benevolent Boss: During his teen years, Blaze worked for a man named Harry Bluenote, who hired troubled teens, paid them fair wages, and treated them well, even fighting public opinion to give them a good chance at life. He even offered to keep Blaze on, but died the next day.
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    • George was one too. While he made no bones about seeing Blaze as a tool, he treated him well regardless.
  • Brains and Brawn: George and Blaze.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: Blaze went to one.
  • Cut-and-Paste Note: Chapter 13 sees Blaze putting one of these together, starting over a few times.
  • Dead Person Conversation/Spirit Advisor: Blaze is guided by his dead partner in crime, George.
  • The Dog Bites Back: For years, Blaze put up with the abuse of Martin Coslaw, the head of Hetton House (the state orphanage where Blaze spend most of his youth). But after his friend John Cheltzman dies because he was send to work in the field despite having a weak heart, Blaze finally snaps and gave Coslaw a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
  • Downer Ending: You weren't expecting a happy ending with a Bachman novel, were you? Blaze never collects the ransom and he kills several innocent people before being gunned down himself. The only bright spot is that Joe survives unharmed and returned to his parents.
  • Dumb Muscle: Blaze functions as this to George, before and after the latter's death.
  • Gentle Giant: Blaze.
  • Had to Come to Prison to Be a Crook: True, George was already a con artist before he got caught, but during a 20 months stay in Walpole prison, he picked up an assortment of new cons, including his most succesful one. It was also here that a fellow inmate gave him the idea to kidnap a baby for ransom.
  • Homage: To Of Mice & Men, according to the author.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: King actually wanted to avoid this and wanted to publish it under just Bachman's name. In the end, the hardcover has both names under equal size and the paperback has "Stephen King writing as..."
  • In Medias Res: Throughout the novel there are flashbacks from Blaze's childhood all the way to his current situation.
  • Lighter and Softer: By King's standards, especially when compared to the rest of the Bachman canon. It's a heartbreaking novel, but it's not as nihilistic as Rage or The Long Walk.
  • Lima Syndrome: Blaze eventually falls in love with the baby and doesn't want to let it go.
  • Manchild: Blaze.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Is George really assisting Blaze from beyond the grave as a ghost, or is he just a figment of Blaze's imagination, speaking what Blaze's subconscious already knows? The novel isn't really clear on this. On one hand, Blaze already began to imagine George assisting him when he was serving a prison sentence, while George himself was still alive. On the other hand, "George" knows things that Blaze can't possibly know, not even subconsciously, such as the plan George picked up in prison to have the ransom dropped from a plane.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Chapter 14 is entirely about a nightmare of Blaze, in which he and Joe are at a carnival where they run into Joe's mother, who recognizes Blaze. She and all other visitors chase after him, and during the chase Joe's mother transforms into The Bride of Yorga (from a horror movie Blaze saw years ago). Blaze and Joe flee into a Hall of Mirrors, where George awaits them. After giving Blaze the advice to demand that the ransom for Joe is dropped from a plane, George too turns into a monster and insists Blaze gives Joe to him, which Blaze refuses. That is where the dream ends.
  • One Last Job: What Blaze is on; if the kidnapping goes well, he'll be settled for life thanks to the ransom money. If it fails, he will either be killed or get sentenced to life in prison.
  • Rasputinian Death: In the climax, Blaze takes a bullet to the calf, a bullet to the leg that blows his kneecap, and a bullet in the buttock that shatters his hip and tears open his large intestine, but he keeps running and doesn't even feel it. It takes a bullet in the lower back that severs his spinal cord to finally make him stop.
  • Reality Ensues: In just a day after the kidnapping, the police already identifies Blaze as the culprit. He left tons of tracks behind, a lot of which aren't hard to trace back to him (like fibers from his trousers, which are of a brand only sold in a handful of stores, and marks from the ladder, which again is of a brand only sold in a limited amount of stores), and people easily recognize/remember him due to his large physique and the dent in his skull.
  • Saying Too Much: When on his way to post the ransom note, Blaze is offered a ride by a pulp truck driver. During the ride, the driver brings up the kidnapping (which is prominently featured in the news), and Blaze casually wonders if Joe's parents will really pay the 1 million dollars in ransom before realizing he shouldn't know about that since he hasn't even send the letter yet, let alone that the media reported about the ransom. Fortunately for Blaze, while the driver is surprised Blaze knows about the amount of money the kidnappers are asking, he doesn't put one and one together enough to deduce Blaze might be the kidnapper.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: A strange case. At the end, after Joe is returned to his parents, he begins to cry because it's the "wrong face".
  • Stocking Mask: Blaze robs a grocery store but forgets to put the stocking on. Fortunately, he scares the salesclerk so much that he can't remember anything to identify him. Blaze later comes back to the same store, this time wearing the stocking, and even points it out to the clerk.
  • Tinkle in the Eye: Blaze finds himself on the receiving end of this the first time he has to change Joe's diaper.
  • Villain Protagonist: Well, he does kidnap a child.
  • Vorpal Pillow: When George warns Blaze that the police is on to him, he urges Blaze to kill Joe in this manner since the kid would only slow him down. Blaze comes close to doing it, but ultimately can't bring himself to kill the baby.
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