And so it is done! Yes it took me three weeks instead of one, but I am finally finished with the fourth installment of The Dark Tower series, Wizard and Glass. Why did it take me so long? Well, it was a longer read than the three before it, and life has been a little busier. But the real reason, I finally confessed to myself as I wiped the tears away, is the story itself. In this book we learn what a true tragedy Roland’s life has been and what he has sacrificed in the name of The Tower.
Most of this book is a flashback to Roland’s youth, a time when he becomes a gunslinger and passes his test of manhood. He learns many harsh life lessons, kills for the first time and meets the love of his life. Just knowing what we do of his future self tells the reader this love is doomed. After all, there is no love present at his side in his quest. It is a tragic tale that must be lived through as he tells it again to his ka-tet in one endless night around the campfire. As Eddie tells Jake, it’s a western just like all of Roland’s stories. It’s a love story and a tragedy. It’s also a huge chunk of Roland’s personality. It explains much about his motivation and to me is the best of the entire series in revealing just how he thinks. SK often accuses Roland of having a romantic spirit, but I hadn’t really seen or understood what he meant by that until this book.
The very end of the book, once everyone wakes from Roland’s story telling of his past, is awkward and unnerving to me. They find the emerald city without following a yellow brick road and the Wizard isn’t of Oz. It’s such a strange twist that it felt tacked on as an afterthought to me. It’s the only one of the series so far that has SK’s bad habit of ending the story by whatever means necessary whether it makes any sense or not (see Needful Things, etc). I can’t say I like it. I understand the part where Roland must face the final tragic act of what happened in his youth. I understand SK creating a dramatic exhibition for the telling of that part of the tale. I just don’t understand what all the scenery was for. Did we really need that connection to Jake’s, Susannah’s and Eddie’s worlds? I don’t think so. It kind of sort of worked, but almost took away from the story itself. In short, I didn’t like it.
Now I will finally pick up a fresh installment. Book 4.5 of the series, The Wind Through the Keyhole, is the only one I haven’t read before. No promises on the time-frame at this point.