The Dark Tower series is a much beloved book series, written by the biggest author of our generation and belongs in my favorite reading genre,i.e fantasy fiction , and yet my experience while reading this series has been very Topsy-curvy.Some of the books in the series have been a hit and some a big miss .This one felt pretty average, and certainly a miss.
Following the events of the 3rd book , The Wastelands , Our Protagonist , Roland and his ka-tet (companions) , are on a train . The train can talk , ride at the speed of sound,loves riddles , is actually controlled by a computer and is psychotic.This train Known as Blaine is set to commit suicide , and wants to do it with Roland and his ka-tet as his companions , unless Roland and his ka-tet can beat him in a game of riddles before the train reaches his final destination , Topeka.
But on reaching Topeka, they face new spectrum of troubles but while facing these said troubles events transpire to make Roland recount events of his past to his ka-tet and finally reveals his reasons for traveling to Dark Tower and how his journey truly started, What made him the Roland of present day, what was his first act as a gunslinger ,and how his heart was broken .
What I Liked:
The book starts from where it left off at the previous book and the thrilling conclusion to the whole Blaine the mono’s riddle contest was entertaining . This led to our protagonists reaching a different dimensional Topeka* , which has already been destroyed due to certain mysterious cause.
*What’s entertaining however is the fact this is the same Topeka , that King wrote in another one of his novel, the stand.
King hence smartly creates a multiverse in which each and every novel he has worked on is interconnected . And King doesn’t stop there as he proceeds to further create connections to other old novels and gives away plenty of homages , one of the most entertaining one being to the Wizard of Oz.
While the whole series is set in a western setting , Wizard and Glass is the first book in the series to truly focus on this setting , exploring the various traditions , mechanisms , customs and style of the spaghetti – western genre .
“and now, all these years later, it seem to him that the most horrible fact of human existence was that broken hearts mended”
King also for the first time* writes a romantic tale and despite my lack of enthusiasm and experience with the Romance genre , it did feel like a job well done by the brilliant author.As King weaved a fantastic tale of forbidden love which ends with some heart breaking conclusions
*as far as i know , at least
But , Bottom line the best part of the book has to be the revelations of the past adventures of Roland and his former companions , the tale of Roland’s first love & the tale of the beginning of Roland’s journey to reach the Dark Tower. For Four books readers have been left wondering about the Gunslinger’s past and this book finally details it and even explains plenty of details about the antagonist of the series
What I Didn’t like:
being a near 850 pages long book the truly entertaining parts were somehow limited to the first and final 100 pages each . As the multiverse , the interconnections , the homages to the likes of salem’s lot , the stand , Insomnia & wizard of Oz , all were only seen during those pages .And these were the pages where the actual quest for Dark Tower was carried out.
The remaining majority of the pages were about the previously praised western setting and past of Roland and although they were both important and exciting to read at the onset they soon feel like a dragged on affair . The book starts getting a dull vibe and as a reader made me less enthusiastic to read on.With anticipation for action and something meaningful to happen growing with each page , when things finally start heating up they last for very small amount of pages and definitely leaves much to desire.
“It’s alright to feel fear, but sometimes a very bad idea to show it.”
Then there was the problems with the characters. Throughout the book series we have been given Hints about Roland’s former companions and their traits and how they resembled his new companions and yet all through the book all characters felt un-relatable to the new companions of Roland . The Character of Susan in particular felt very uni-dimensional , only present for being groped at , lusted and being Roland’s sex buddy *.
*However that problem was somewhat resolved towards the end when Susan takes part in one chapter of actual useful action .
There were also plenty of moments when the book made you feel excited about something truly big and of a grand scale only later to turn all anti-climatic, for e.g [minor spoilers] at the beginning we learn that a witch has put a spell on Susan to do something horrible when she loses her virginity , all through the book it felt as if it could be something catastrophic , but as it turns out , when she loses her virginity the horrible deed she was supposed to do was cut her own hair and turn bald. This is just one example of the many other such moments which deflated all the excitement.
“Panic is highly contagious, especially in situations when nothing is known and everything is in flux.”
Meanwhile I get the feeling that King was still unsure on whether he wanted reader to hate or like Roland as whatever pity points Roland’s character received in the last book are lost in this one , And until the final few pages of Roland’s misery , I for one started being more annoyed at Roland’s character and even after reading the tragedies of Roland’s life during the final few pages didn’t really changed much and Roland finally came across as a self-absorbed , selfish & obnoxious character.
And finally the thing that made it worst for me was the fact that at the end of the day the book completely derailed from the journey to the Dark Tower , right when it was getting exciting .It now feels like the series as a whole is at a stand still and not moving forward , Hopefully it will change with the next book .
While the first book in the series felt weird and awful at first , it became a magnificent work of genius following further reading and a little hindsight into the series and coming into this book I was riding on the excitement express like I have seldom done before. But sadly this book derailed that fast paced train with a fairly average and at times stale 4th book in the series.