The next three novels of the series is where things gets bumpier just when you thought things were getting better.
Wizard & Glass
A sixteen year old Roland pisses a lot of people.
Stephen King put his fans at the edge of their teeth with The Wastelands’s cliffhanger, only to write its sequel after six years. Fortunately, I did not have to wait for too long before I got my hands on Wizard and Glass, which later on became my favourite novel in the series as well. I think this is where King has completely become comfortable with his series. If The Gunslinger and the Drawing of the Three were outlines and The Wastelands were the details and colors, Wizard and Glass are the final touches, completing not just Roland’s character but a picture of Roland’s old world too.
Wizard & Glass sets off with Roland and the gang trapped in a riddle-loving, sociopath train. Remember in the Hobbit movie where Bilbo and Gollum throw riddles to each other with their lives at stake? It was pretty much like this one but far more awesome. Eddie shines as the group’s wisecracker and the Ka-Tet’s relationship continues to grow as a team and family.
Awesome riddling aside, Wizard & Glass is mostly about Roland’s younger days with his previous ka-tet, Cuthbert and Alain, as they arrive at the seemingly peaceful town of Meijis. At Meijis also lives the beautiful and tragic Susan Delgado who becomes Roland’s first love and later, a member of his Ka-tet as well. The romance was a bit dragging and I wasn’t invested in it at first. One thing is that I never did like King’s love stories, even while I was reading the Stand. It feels forced and there were far more pressing matters to read than the romantic relationships of his characters. The romance in Wizard & Glass was predictable and cheesy but surprisingly heartfelt in the end.
The book has the series’s most fun yet compelling villains ever. Jones and his Ka-tet rival Roland’s own and their little games were amusing to read. More so, the sequences before the reaptide festival was a vivid and enchanting read that I could have been joining the festivities as well. King painted the picture of Meijis and its citizens with so much life and color so when he finally brought down the final stroke where everything falls apart, it leaves a strong handprint.
While I enjoyed Roland’s backstory, I think it could have made a different novel of its own. Hell, Roland’s childhood could have made a series of books itself. Instead, it was smashed into this novel and didn’t actually move us any closer to the Dark Tower. We only met half-baked characters of Cuthbert and Alain and seen but a slice of Roland’s world. Something bigger could be made out of this and it disappoints me that it’s nothing more but one of Roland’s many backstories.
Wolves of the Calla
Roland saves a town from your not so average child trafficking.
The Wolves of the Calla was another stop-over book where so much is happening and not happening at the same time. It was also the book where events take a huge turn as it gradually wraps up to the final novel. I find myself thinking that Wolves of the Calla was a relatively good novel. It had the right dose of palavers and action and it also has Father Callahan in it so it bothers me why I did not exactly like this novel
The reasons I could think of is 1) The Wastelands and Wizard & Glass were too good 2) I couldn’t see the book’s relevance to the series. There were major scenes that I did not find necessary, quite like Roland’s cathartic not-so-prequel Wizard and Glass. Father Callahan’s solemn adventures was an amazing read but I don’t understand why it had to take so long. Write a different novel dammit.
But then, King crafts a slow but solid suspense-thriller as Roland and the others prepare their battle against the Wolves. While they’re at it, the Ka-tet struggles as a team as they grow more distant to one another. I think this book served as means to develop the Ka-tet’s relationship more intimately and put them in a situation where they have to face problems with trust and honesty instead of guns and blows.
Song of Susannah
Roland does his thing while Susannah gives birth to a spider.
I’m not sure what happened in this novel.
I practically dragged myself reading SoS, not that it was terrible. SoS worked well as the second-to-the last book, adding more plot points to make things interesting and prepare us for the finale while keeping the action intense.
The novels puts Susannah in the spotlight as we see her struggling and working with Mia, who is pregnant with Roland’s spider baby. They terrify pedestrians, stash evil balls and sharp objects in hotel safes, and turn themselves over anthropomorphic creatures and vampires so they could deliver the anti-christ. Sounds reasonable.
Whilst Susannah is having the time of her life, Roland and Eddie blow up convenience stores and shoots gangsters in Maine. They meet a local man who’ll conveniently hitch them a ride, hide them in his snazzy boathouse, and give them a car with cigarettes and cash inside. They meet Stephen King and shakes his collar so he could stop procrastinating and finish his freaking novel. At this point, I had to put down the book and whisper the f-word.
Meanwhile, Jake and Callahan are touring the streets of New York doing nothing much in the story. It’s as if King didn’t know what to do with them. You don’t know how much I anticipated to see Callahan pull out a gun and start shooting vampires so it disappointed me that I have to finish this book without any of that.
I don’t know. This book feels so weird. It was weird. It’s where everything just explodes and you’re unsure of what’s going on.