What would you do if two of your main characters turned up on your doorstep and asked you why you haven’t completed their story? You’d no doubt take a long look at your alcohol and drug habit, thinking it might just be a hallucination.
This is exactly what happened to Stephen King in the/his novel Song of Susannah, the sixth in The Dark Tower series. I had been told that this was the weakest of the saga; the least liked and most hated. I didn’t think that at all. Colour me prejudiced, but I’ve taken to King’s epic like a Jesus to a child. But this was the one where it all went a bit weird.
Characters, like Father Donald Callahan, found out that they, in fact, creations of King’s imagination. But it goes much deeper than that. Because there are an infinite number of multiverses, all centred around the Dark Tower, it makes sense that even universes of the imagination would co-exist along side our own. It’s a concept that takes some getting used to. One has to think so far outside the box that the box doesn’t exist anymore.
Susannah Dean becomes Susannah-Mia, an entity created by a Crimson King-designed pregnancy – a ruse brought about to frustrate and ultimately bring down Roland Deschain’s quest for The Dark Tower.
Our heroes are separated and find themselves in the United States at different times: in 1999 Susannah-Mia are about to give birth; Jake, Father Callahan and Oy set out to save her; in 1977 Roland and Eddie meet their “creator” and somehow convince him to carry on with their story. King writes himself very well. He acknowledges his burgeoning alcoholism as well as the accident that so nearly killed him.
So, by no means is Song of Susannah the weakest link in The Dark Tower chain; it’s a necessary step King took in order to bring about the climax which comes in volume seven. I loved it and will defend it until I reach the path at the end of the clearing.