SK Saturday: Wolves of the Calla

It took quite a bit longer than expected, but I’ve finally finished reading The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla. To say it was a large book is an understatement. I had a lot going on in my life this past couple of weeks that kept me from reading every minute I wanted to. I also picked up an erotic romance to read at the same time to temper some of the ick I felt when reading about Susannah’s ever growing chap.

In this one we find Roland and his ka-tet growing much more in tune with each other. They’re still traveling along the beam toward the Dark Tower and find themselves in the town of Calla Bryn Sturgis. This town has a serious problem and a quartet of gunslingers (and one billybumbler) is just what they need to aid them.

We learn a bit more about each of the characters in this book. Roland can dance, Jake is really still a boy despite all he’s been through, Eddie can be quite the politician when needed, and Susannah hides yet another within her skull. This book is almost three stories in one binding.

I had forgotten much about this installment of The Dark Tower series. Most importantly, that it ends in a cliffhanger. I hate that. SK also does a lot of foreshadowing with ominous single lines at the ends of chapters. I kind of hate that too. But for all his little idiosyncrasies I still really liked this book. It gets us further along the path to the tower and Roland is given the chance to be a little more human.

On to the next!  

SK Saturday: The Wind Through the Keyhole

And so I finished reading this one with time to spare, amazingly. It was…different. A story, within a story, within a book. I don’t know that I really liked the format. I guess it was a little too much storytellin’ for me. 

This book is listed as installment 4.5 in The Dark Tower Series. In it we find the ka-tet of Roland, Jake, Oy, Eddie and Susannah still traveling along the path of the beam, heading toward the Dark Tower. They come to a river and meet a friendly man to get them across. He reminds Roland of a horrible storm that appears out of nowhere and is easily predicted by the billy-bumblers. Oy has been acting strangely and Roland has a “duh” moment as he realizes it’s for this reason.

That’s my first problem with this book. It’s one of those things (if there’s a term I’m not certain) that’s too contrived by the author to mesh well for the reader. Perhaps deus ex machina? Except there was no real reason for this book to happen in the first place. I don’t think I learned anything new about the characters that I needed to know so long after Roland’s journey ended. He does have a few tidbits about his mother, some introspection that makes him more human. However, I don’t think this book did that justice. In the book Roland tells everyone a story. That story is mostly about a situation where Roland tells someone else a different story. That story takes up most of the book. It’s not a bad story. I was actually quite enthralled. I just don’t know that it was worth taking up the thread of The Dark Tower series again, and getting my hopes up that it would be another piece of the puzzle. 

So, taken at face value as a stand-alone book, this is a good read. Depending on my mood I might even say a great read. But as a part of this series, being placed where it was, I just don’t know. Keep in mind that I began reading this series again solely because of this book. I received it for my birthday and wanted to remember every detail that came before this story took place. I’m in the thick of it now so will continue on with the series. But of course, I remember how it ended and know that’s not going to change.

SK Saturday: Wizard and Glass

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.

SK Saturday: The Wastelands

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.