One of the things I like about Stephen King is his versatility as a storyteller. Yes, he focuses on horror and the supernatural -- telekinetic teenagers, vampires, creatures from other dimensions and even a really "killer" flu -- and is therefore not considered to be a "serious" writer. However, considering the vast output of King books and his longevity as a bestselling author, if nearly 30 years of novels, short story collections, screenplays, original teleplays and a loyal fan base doesn't make him a serious writer, I don't know what would.
I used to buy each new King novel either in paperback or, when I could afford it, in hardcover. Gradually my tastes shifted to military fiction by Tom Clancy, Stephen Coonts and Harold Coyle, but I never stopped liking King's books.
One of my favorites is his 1987 excursion into fantasy, The Eyes of the Dragon. Essentially a story for younger readers -- aimed at kids 12 and up -- and beautifully illustrated by David Palladini, it's a classic story of sibling rivalry between the sons of King Roland of Delain. Peter, the bright and handsome first-born, is heir to the throne, while Thomas, who is not as smart and takes after his short and stout father, tries hard to cope with the knowledge that his status in life is secondary to Peter's. Worse, even though he tries hard to gain the love of his father, Thomas is clumsy and not very skilled with his hands. (In one sad scene, Thomas spends a whole day making a small wooden sailboat for his father the King, only to hear his dad remark that it looked like a dog dropping with a handkerchief attached to it.)
Thomas' only friend is the court magician, a pale and brooding fellow named Flagg. He takes a keen interest in Thomas, but not for altruistic reasons. For Flagg is an inhuman entity in the guise of a man, and he has a dark agenda of his own: to rid Delain of both Roland and Pete so he can take the reins of power for himself. Knowing that the late Queen Sasha was too smart to be manipulated by any of his spells or shrewd manipulations, Flagg set in motion both Thomas' conception and his mother's murder. Slowly, surely, the evil wizard feeds upon and helps stoke Thomas' resentment of his smarter, handsomer brother....all the better to manipulate the well-meaning but weak-willed Prince Thomas when Flagg pulls off his evil scheme.....
The Eyes of the Dragon is decidedly different from King's normally huge novels, but his tone is remarkably evocative of an oral storyteller. I like the way he sometimes goes back and forth in the story to show a seemingly trivial detail (such as Sasha's dollhouse) and then reintroduce it later as a critical plot device. The story itself is charming, and even though it is a story for older children, adults will enjoy The Eyes of the Dragon's mix of fairy tale and classic King supernatural chills.