Stephen King’s The Stand - Review

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“The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that you were there...and still on your feet.” 

The Stand is a Stephen King book that can truly be classed as a masterpiece. All Stephen King books have complex and intertwined subplots that slowly lead to a climax, but The Stand has so many, you can read it over and over again and still find something new each time you turn a page.

Stephen King’s The Stand is your basic epic tale of good versus evil. It was published in 1978 and it was Stephen King’s fourth full length novel. It had been preceded by Carrie, Salem’s Lot and The Shining, which were published under king’s own name, and Rage, which was first published under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman.

The story begins with a man escaping from a government biological weapons facility following an accident that has infected him with a deadly flu virus, known as Captain Trips. It is a virus that, in just a few weeks, wipes out the vast majority of the population. In the aftermath of the epidemic, the remaining survivors are drawn to Boulder, Colorado by a 108 year old black woman named Mother Abagail, or to Las Vegas by Randall Flagg, who is an evil being with supernatural powers.

Flagg, of course, appears in other Stephen King books; eight for sure, and maybe he is lurking in the background of others too, because Flagg has been a character in Stephen King’s mind for many years. Flagg appears in The Eyes of the Dragon as an evil Wizard, we all suspect that Raymond Fiegler in Hearts in Atlantis is Flagg, and Flagg appears in a number of the Dark Tower series in various different guises too.

The Stand develops with the tale of the journeys of the two sets of survivors to their respective locations and the development of each of their fledging societies in the post Captain Trips world.

Ultimately, good must face evil head on, but the confrontation doesn’t come in the form a great battle. Instead, a small group of Mother Abagail’s followers is dispatched to Las Vegas to do battle with the evil Flagg.

Much more of synopsis of Stephen King’s The Stand would give too much away and there are so many surprises in the book that it would be easy to create a spoiler by accident, so we will stop there, just in case you haven’t read The Stand yet. The characters that King creates in The Stand are wonderful and complex. Even the deranged insanity one of the bad guys, Trashcan Man, is somehow disturbingly fascinating.

Stephen King said that he wanted to write a “Lord of the Rings” set in America. As a fan of both books, I can tell you that he succeeded in his aim. There may not be elves, orcs, and hobbits in Stephen King’s The Stand, but he does create a brand new world out of the ashes of the old world that we know today.

Stephen King also does what he does best in the Stand. He creates characters and situations that, however sci-fi or fantastical the scenario may be, you can somehow still relate to them all. You feel protective over M-O-O-N that spells Tom Cullen and you will even relate and feel sorry for Harold, even though he blows up his friends.  What you will do is; you will wonder what you what you would do if you were one of the last few people left alive on the earth. Would you walk the path of the Dark Man, or would you stand?