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The Talisman | [Stephen King, Peter Straub]

The Talisman

On a brisk autumn day, a 13-year-old boy stands on the shores of the gray Atlantic, near a silent amusement park and a fading ocean resort called the Alhambra. The past has driven Jack Sawyer here: His father is gone, his mother is dying, and the world no longer makes sense. But for Jack everything is about to change. For he has been chosen to make a journey back across America - and into another realm. One of the most influential and heralded works of fantasy ever written, The Talisman is an extraordinary novel of loyalty, awakening, terror, and mystery.
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Publisher's Summary

On a brisk autumn day, a 13-year-old boy stands on the shores of the gray Atlantic, near a silent amusement park and a fading ocean resort called the Alhambra. The past has driven Jack Sawyer here: His father is gone, his mother is dying, and the world no longer makes sense. But for Jack everything is about to change. For he has been chosen to make a journey back across America - and into another realm.

One of the most influential and heralded works of fantasy ever written, The Talisman is an extraordinary novel of loyalty, awakening, terror, and mystery. Jack Sawyer, on a desperate quest to save his mother's life, must search for a prize across an epic landscape of innocents and monsters, of incredible dangers and even more incredible truths. The prize is essential, but the journey means even more. Let the quest begin....

©2001 Stephen King and Peter Straub; (P)2001 Simon & Schuster Inc., Recorded with the Permission of The Ballantine Publishing Group, a Division of Random House, Inc.; AUDIOWORKS Is an Imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division, Simon & Schuster Inc.

What the Critics Say

Audie Award Winner, Fiction (unabridged), 2002

"A classic...rare and dazzling...a journey to rival the greatest adventure stories ever told." (New York Daily News)

"Extraordinary...makes your hair stand on end." (The Washington Post)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (3503 )
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4.2 (1563 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Swad Los Angeles 03-24-10
    Swad Los Angeles 03-24-10 Member Since 2006

    swadmeister

    HELPFUL VOTES
    148
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    129
    58
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    4
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    Overall
    "Still Good"

    I read this book when it first came out in the 80s. This was before the sci-fi world took the theme of multi-dimensionality to it ad-nauseumal limit. (I know, not a word.) Even so, it's still an excellent story by these two excellent authors.

    I love the fact that when you read these reviews you get both ends of the spectrum and everything in-between. One compared this to Beyond the Dome which I thought doesn't even come close to The Talisman.

    I also suggest Audible listeners get used to Frank Muller. He's all over this place and you're going to miss out on a lot of great books if you try to avoid him. His style always puts me off at first, but it always ends up growing on me.

    18 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennie LOTHAIR, MT, USA 04-25-03
    Jennie LOTHAIR, MT, USA 04-25-03 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
    30
    ratings
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    8
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    "Simply a classic"

    This story has it all: evil men, magic, adventure, a boy and his mother who are linked to another world and a dying queen, creatures of wonder as well as horror, and the best and worst of humankind. All of these headed across the continent on a collision course to the California coast.

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rich MILLINGTON, MI, United States 01-31-10
    Rich MILLINGTON, MI, United States 01-31-10 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    37
    ratings
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    456
    7
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    "Great"

    I don't know what some people are complaining about; Frank Muller is one of the best narrators I've listened to, and he doesn't let us down in this great novel.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peggy Baltimore, MD, United States 02-14-04
    Peggy Baltimore, MD, United States 02-14-04

    After nine surgeries on my brain and looking at a tenth, audio is the choice for me to feel whole again. I am myself in the world of books!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    111
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    23
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    "This is The Greatest Adventure Story Ever"

    Looking for Adventure?...need suspense?...want to have fun?...need a vacation?..Well this is the book for you. It is long but the action and the different adventures inside one. You will find the strange and the funny so charming that you will not want to miss a thing. The beginning sets up the story and you may want to skip ahead. Don't do it this book builds you up to the task. You will need to hold on to your seat at times and remember some of the early charpters to get the full impact of some events. You will want the story not to end! It does end but... At that time get the book "Black House" to go on yet another adventure with Jack out hero.

    35 of 37 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taffy Tyler, TX, USA 12-14-09
    Taffy Tyler, TX, USA 12-14-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
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    4
    1
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    "Awesome!"

    Awesome! I read this book when I was 16 and I loved it then... so now I'm 40 and listened to the Audiobook and still loved it!

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Megan Branford, CT, USA 05-09-03
    Megan Branford, CT, USA 05-09-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
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    1
    1
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    "I have read this book, and listened to it."

    This story is my all time favorite, I have read the book a few times and could not wait to listen to some one read it to me. This was my first audiostory ever and I would recommend it to anyone.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Woodbury, MN 04-10-03
    Amazon Customer Woodbury, MN 04-10-03 Member Since 2003

    Dan

    HELPFUL VOTES
    54
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    104
    5
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    "On a mission."

    This is the first Steven King novel I have read and I plan to read many more. I couldn't stop listening. The book was not what I expected. There is a connoisseur like after taste that is liberating. From the reviews of others it bothered the politically correct crowd; however, theirs is not the last word. What an adventure Jack Sawyer had compared to his name sake of Tom. If you liked Tom Sawyer and his adventures you will find this listen intriguing. Just like Tom Sawyer disturbed the people of his day, Steven King's Talisman makes the same impact. I love it and want more of it.

    39 of 42 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Amesbury, MA, USA 12-27-03
    Michael Amesbury, MA, USA 12-27-03 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
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    136
    2
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    Overall
    "Wonderful..."


    Disgard the few bad reviews -- this book is wonderful, and Frank Muller was one of the greatest readers of all time...This isn't your "typical" King book, but if you loved the Dark Tower books, you will love this (and vice versa). I have forced over a dozen people to read this book, and have given away 4 tape copies over the years. I'm buying it on Audible so I won't lose it again ;-)

    16 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Marietta, GA, USA 09-10-04
    Michael Marietta, GA, USA 09-10-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
    46
    ratings
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    34
    5
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    Overall
    "An Adventure"

    I will agree with two comments that others have made:

    1) The book is probably a little longer than it has to be. Nevertheless the book kept my interest and I did not find myself tuning out.

    2) The reader's style is very distracting at first. The way he would draw out the last word of almost every sentence nearly drove me crazy. A couple of times I almost gave up on the book for that very reason. But, I noticed that after about 180 minutes in to the book I got used to the sound of his voice and, in fact, the rhythm of his style became very pleasing.

    If you like stories of adventure and you don't mind a dose of fantasy thrown in, you will enjoy this book.

    19 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erik K Austin, TX United States 09-26-04
    Erik K Austin, TX United States 09-26-04 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
    91
    ratings
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    2
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    Overall
    "There was a little girl..."

    This book is like the little girl from the nursery rhyme: When she was good, she was very very good, but when she was bad she was horrid. Slow to start, it starts to get good just before you might think of giving up. Quite exciting for long sections, but with just plain dull sections stuck in for good measure. Imaginative in places, quite flat in others.

    Many characters are stock King (and possibly stock Straub, though I haven't read as much of his work). Old black people are wise and somewhat mystical (see also The Shining and The Stand). Folks in small rural towns are ignorant and racist (see most anything). Large slow witted people are good and loyal friends (see also The Stand).

    And the book is long. Much too long. Filled with characters saying the same things over and over again in a long string (literally: see the main villains "what does it gain you to win the world" inner and interminable monologue and Jack's "I am the herd" stuff). Characters talk in irritating ways (Speedy's old bluesman patois gets old quickly, and Wolf's need to say "right here and now" and "wolf" in the middle of sentences gets old very very very quickly."

    Finally, there's the narration. Good in places, but sometimes the narrator sounds like he's trying out for a Clint Eastwood role, with breathy drawn out sibilants at the end of sentences. But overall good.

    28 of 32 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 235 results PREVIOUS1224NEXT
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  • David
    Uttoxeter, United Kingdom
    3/24/10
    Overall
    "Too long"

    I like Stephen King, but not this book at least in this version. Far too long, large swathes of uninteresting drivel. The story at times borders on the ludicrous; but at others in typical King style it fascinates.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Tim
    leighton buzzard, BDF, United Kingdom
    4/21/09
    Overall
    "can't stand the narration........."

    I love Sephen King and have enjoyed some terrific audiobooks of his books from Audible, BUT I just could not cope with this narrator's ponderous delivery - almost every sentence ending in a breathy whisper. I note the reviews of the book itself and may try listening again at some future point, but this time I couldn't stand it and gave up after the 1st half hour of gritted teeth!!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Lorna
    1/12/09
    Overall
    "Disappointing fantasy"

    I'd previously downloaded Cell and Lisey's Story, my first introduction to the Stephen King oeuvre, and was looking forward to listening to this. If you enjoy Lord of the Rings type fantasy, this might suit you, but I found it very juvenile (maybe I was missing the point and this was a kid's book, in which case apologies). Also, a minor point but an irritating one - the reader finishes most sentences on a drawn-out sigh, so even the most banal of statements sound ludicrously melodramatic: "he ran himself a hot baaaaaaath". Thumbs down generally.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Keith
    Peacehaven, East Sussex, United Kingdom
    7/12/07
    Overall
    "Could have been about 10 hours shorter"

    Stephen King manages to incorporate some novel ideas into the age old battle of good versus evil. However The Talisman is overly long and detailed. I found myself wishing he could have moved it on just a little bit quicker. Though it is written in a fantasy style it is not suitable for children due to bad language and horror elements.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • A User
    4/17/09
    Overall
    "Worth persevering"

    This book is really bloated on detail that can make you want to skip ahead to move the story on. There was countless times I found my concentration drift but the idea that there was more good stuff to come kept me interested. Which I?m glad to say does come eventually.
    I found the narrator very annoying at first as every sentence ended in flair that gave the impression of over exaggeration.
    However, after persevering I noticed that when this flair was not present ( and you notice less as the story goes on ), the narrator is very gifted.
    The story builds to an excellent climax and always leaves you wanting to know more about Jason the history about him and the territories. I just hope the Black House is a good sequel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tom
    West Wickham, United Kingdom
    3/19/09
    Overall
    "A great story and BRILLIANT narration"

    I have never read any of Stephen King's books before so this was a first for me. What a tremendous storyteller he is! The structure of the book is half "quest", half "road movie", as it were, and it takes a lot of skill to maintain the pace and the tension throughout such a long book. Generally the authors succeed very well, though at times the pace is a little slow. If the book has a weakness it is over-reliance on the hero always to carry the plot; that said, he is an attractive character - a kind of American Harry Potter with attitude, perhaps. A plus point is that the baddies are REALLY bad, and be aware there is a lot of gore and violence, all carried off I should say with great verve.

    What makes to book is the narration - an absolute tour de force in my view. Frank Muller's style is so perfectly matched to the authors' that it is almost that the book was written for him to read. Great stuff indeed.

    There is a sequel, also available from Audible - "Black House" which is a much better book, which I've reviewed separately. Both are highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Stuart
    Ryde, Isle Of Wight, United Kingdom
    12/28/07
    Overall
    "Will your nervous system stand this book"

    This was a roller coaster of thrills and emotions right from the start. Stephen king does string your nerves out on a tight wire of excitement, deliberately drawing out lurid and frightening descriptions while you are screaming inside for the action to continue. Very clever man this King. I sometimes hate him whilst reading but realise that this is part of the fun.
    Buy this and the sequel 'black house' if you like a good long gut wrenching ride.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • David
    St Helens, Merseyside, United Kingdom
    5/31/06
    Overall
    "Good but bloated"

    A good and interesting story spoilt by a labourious and over detailed narration. Despite which is enjoyable.

    3 of 8 people found this review helpful
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