This week I read the third book in The Dark Tower series, The Wastelands. I had almost completely forgotten the events of this book from my first reading a few years ago until I began reading it again. Who can forget Shardik, the maggot infested seventy-foot bear? Then there’s Blaine the Mono, Oy the billy-bumbler and the older than dirt people of River Crossing. This is the book where Jake comes back into the fold and Roland swears to never let him drop again.
Stephen King is the master of foreshadowing. I’m not certain that’s a good thing as it often starts to grate on my nerves by the middle of his books. However, in this one Roland’s constant worry about just how much he’ll sacrifice for the Dark Tower feels more like introspection on the character’s part than foretelling by the author. It works. It colors Roland’s innermost thoughts and gives the reader another aspect of the gunslinger to consider. Will he let Jake drop if it comes down to it? I honestly don’t remember but have a bad feeling about it.
In this installment Eddie and Susannah grow closer and she has adopted his last name. They can’t have had an actual marriage ceremony of course, though I think that might have been a nice touch. Surely Roland should have the knowledge of how to bind them in his world according to his customs. But SK doesn’t go that far. He lets them share a last name and sleep together. He mentions them making love at least once that I recall but doesn’t dwell on it. They share a few kisses though intimate moments are hard to come by in their circumstances. Roland notices them growing closer and remarks on it to himself with the knowledge that they’ll need the link to be as strong as possible. More foreshadowing.
In my opinion this book can almost be read as a stand alone. A lot happens to further the group on their journey, but it can almost be taken as its own complete story. Until you reach the end. There is a cliffhanger that isn’t horrible, but definitely unsatisfying. Will they get off of Blaine the Mono alive? Since there are more volumes to the series we know they must. But the journey is still worth the read.