The Stand is perhaps Stephen King's most popular work. It's long: in the paperback of the Complete and Uncut edition, there are 1141 pages. In other words, it's big, it's heavy, and it's epic. And it's very, very good.
A virus under experimentation for possible use in biological warfare is accidentally released upon the guards at a secret base. The base is put under quarantine, and the virus is almost contained with few deaths. But one of the employees escapes. He runs as far as he can get before the virus kills him and his family.
And the virus spreads.
A small percentage of Earth's population finds themselves immune to the virus. A group containing Frannie Goldsmith, Stuart Redman, Larry Underwood, Harold Lauder, and Mother Abigail, a mysterious black woman who appears in the others' dreams. Also in their dreams is the truly evil Randall Flagg, a man-- or perhaps something else-- who crucifies those who go against his will. And Flagg has followers, such as the Trashcan Man, a man who delights in the burning of things.
So the stage is set for a clash between good and evil of staggering importance, Mother Abigail's forces on one side, Flagg's on the other. It is time for a final Stand.
The book starts gripping and ends gripping. And everything in between is gripping, too. But that's not to say that the story is at the expense of the characters. The hefty page count gives Stephen King all the room he needs to tell the story at its fullest extent, with every aspect of the story playing out as King intended in his mind. There's very little criticism I can give to the masterwork of a master writer.
So enjoy, Constant Reader. Enjoy.
My rating: 10/10