Tag Archives: The Dark Tower

Wolves of the Calla

The Dark Tower Volume V: Wolves of the Calla

The Dark Tower Vol V: Wolves of the Calla

So as I head straight into volume five of Stephen King’s magnum opus, I wish to share some thoughts with you about the previous one, Wizard and Glass. Each volume so far has offered something special to me, the first-time reader.

With The Gunslinger, it was the introduction to a world that was somewhat like ours, but not quite. I still don’t know if there was a nuclear war that destroyed a modern civilisation, and thereby creating a world that Serge Leone would have been proud of. It is, to me, The Good, The Bad, The Ugly…and the Fucked-up. Roland Deschain is an enigmatic a protagonist as you’re ever likely to read in modern fiction.

With The Drawing of the Three, I was captivated by Eddie Dean and the woman who would eventually become Susannah Dean, Odetta Holmes. It also pointed out that our heroes were not guaranteed to come out of any given situation intact. I felt their pain, their joys and their terror. It was the start of what was going to be a long, long journey – a journey that might end in death for each of them.

With The Waste Land, it was the return of Jake Chambers, the introduction of Oy the billy-bumbler, and the enormity of the quest ahead of this disparate group of travellers. It was my favourite of the three book so far. Scenes of intense and horrible violence permeated through each section; scenes that still cause me to sit back and marvel at King’s artistry.

Susan Delgado

Susan Delgado: Loved and Lost.

Wizard and Glass was something else altogether. Contained with its passages of action, heroism, sacrifice and more violence is perhaps the most romantic love story I’ve read since The Prince of Tides. Here Roland told the tale that had haunted him for god knows how many years (time flows differently in Mid-World): how he met – and lost – his one true love, Susan Delgado. The word “heartbreaking” can be overused and indeed, in the wrong hands, one such story can come across as sentimental, irrelevant and trite. One of the reasons it took King so long to write this volume was that he wasn’t sure if his talent could handle romance in its truest form. But the mark of a good writer is when he or she can follow a path, work through their fear and uncertainty, and arrive at their destination having learned a valuable lesson.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy Wizard and Glass. King was sidelining Eddie, Susannah, Jake and Oy for an extended flashback. But it was a story that needed to be told and I’m very glad that he did. I can say with hand upon heart that I will shiver, as my friend Liz Czukas does, at the mere mention of the phrase “Come, Reap” for many a dark night to come.

But the killer touch comes at the end of this volume; when Roland and his friends take one further journey into the Wizard’s Glass and see…well, if you haven’t read it yet, I recommend you do so now. I’m not going to spoil it for you. I’d be doing the book and its author a disservice.

Wizard and Glass

The Dark Tower Vol IV: Wizard and Glass

I think if we look back on our childhood, we will remember that book. You know the one I mean: a book for kids that frightened the living daylights out of you. It was supposed to be a bright, breezy, carefree sort of book. But you, as a young reader, saw only darkness. What was meant to entertain and make you feel good only served to feed your fears and mess up your sleep for a long time. For me, it was Enid Blyton’s Noddy in Toytown; for Jake in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series, it was Charlie the Choo-Choo.

Volume III of the series, The Waste Lands, is my favourite so far. Now, we all know that no one writes horror quite like The King. But what I didn’t know is that he’s more than a dab hand at fantasy, too. The Dark Tower is quickly becoming top of my list of all-time fantasy faves. Why? As I said before, it’s the characters, stupid! We have our good guys – Roland, Susannah, Eddie, Jake and Oy the Bumbler (Ake!Ake!Ake!) – and in The Waste Lands the bad guys showed their cards. There is Gasher, Jake’s abductor; there is the Tick-Tock Man, the leader of the Greys; and at the end The Ageless Stranger puts in an appearance.

But all of these are shadowed by Blaine the Mono: a super-computer who is also a train. He will take the questing party to the Dark Tower (or Topeka) as long as they keep asking them riddles. If he answers each of them correctly, he will self-destruct, taking Roland and his friends with him to his grave. They need to figure out a way to outsmart Blaine. That’s how The Waste Lands ends; and that’s where Wizard and Glass begins. A friend suggested to me not to read the series in one go. It’s too big, he said. Each book is longer than the last. But I don’t see how I can’t not continue. I’m on this quest with Roland and the others, and I have to follow it through right to its end.

The Waste Lands

The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands

And so it is written: He that has not been converted will forever be cast out. Scratch that! I’m now halfway through The Dark Tower Volume III: The Waste Lands. Consider me converted. After the drama of Volume II: The Drawing of the Three, I feel I know these people: Roland of Gilead, Eddie Dean and Odetta Holmes/Detta Walker, she who was to become Susannah Dean.

I jumped for joy when Jake popped by for a cameo, then became depressed when he went his own way again. I knew he would appear later in the series, but I wanted more of him: the boy who had died not once, but twice.

Roland’s health issues caused me some concern, and I hated the lobstrocities (shiver) for maiming him. But he’s a flexible gunslinger, our Roland is. He can shoot better than Clint Eastwood, even if he’s minus a finger or two.

Eddie Dean confused me. Here was a heroine addict, a drug mule. How could he become part of a quest. He’s no hero, I thought.

And Odetta, sweet, adorable, leg-less Odetta. Her alter-ego, Detta, frightened the bejaysus out of me. I’ve never read a more foul-mouthed, hateful creature in many a long day. Her process, her drawing, in becoming the wonderful Susannah Dean at Vol. II’s climax was/is like nothing I’ve read in many…you get the picture.

Now I’m here, at Vol. III of a seven book sequence and already beginning to think about what I’ll do when the series comes to an end. I may cry.

But I’ve a while to go yet.

The Dark Tower Grabs Me

The Drawing of the Three: The Dark Tower Part Two

I don’t know what happened this time around; but I finished The Gunslinger over two feverish nights. I’ve been reading this way a lot recently. Joe Hill’s Heart-shaped Box and Justin Cronin’s The Passage were read in greedy, super-sized bites. As a result, I’ve lost a bit of sleep – but I’m not complaining. Plenty of time to sleep when you’re dead, right?

Anyway, on the third time of asking, Stephen King’s introduction to the world of Roland of Gilead caught me by the short and curlies, and wouldn’t let go until the last page was turned. When I was done with it, I wanted to know more. I had questions I wanted answered.

Who is Roland Dechain? Who or what is the Man in Black? Is he Marten, Walter o’ Dim, or both? What is the Drawing? What happened between Roland and Susan? Is Jake really dead? Fortunately for me, I had the next book, ready and waiting. I’ve started The Drawing of the Three, and already our hero is in a spot of bother. I see serious problems ahead, Roland thinks. So do I.

The Dark Tower Beckons Me.

The Dark Tower 1: The GunslingerMost readers will know what I mean when I say that there are those books that you just won’t read. The reasons can vary, and at the end of the day, they don’t really matter. It’s all about taste and whatever floats your boat on any given day.

I have no particular genre when it comes to reading. I’ve read the lot: mystery and suspense; horror and ghost stories; science fiction and fantasy; westerns and historical fiction; romance and Young Adult.  I read The Exorcist and The Godfather at the age of twelve. I ‘murdered’ Agatha Christie novels like I was a serial killer. But when my reading really took off, it was Stephen King I turned to. Carrie, The Shining, The Stand and It remain to this day books I would carry with me to a desert island. But I could never take to The Dark Tower series.

I read The Gunslinger when it came out first. I read it again when the revised edition was published in 2003. I didn’t…couldn’t…wasn’t drawn to The Drawing of the Three.

I’ve been badgered (in a nice way) by my writing group to give the series another go. So I will. It’s been seven years since I read the first in King’s seven book sequence. It’s all about the number seven. I’ll start soon with The Gunslinger and – heaven help me – I’ll hit the second book straight after. I’m a reader on a mission, and I’ll keep you updated on my progress. Wish me luck.