I’m still moving through The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I’ve finished the third book.
In the last book, Roland found three doors in the middle of the beach which enabled him to get inside the heads of three different people. He was told by the man in black that he would draw three. Roland causes the death of one of the drawees, and only ends up drawing two.
In the beginning of The Wastelands Roland knows something is wrong with him. He knows he’s going crazy. He can remember the past he has, but the past is watery. Roland saved Jake in New York, but because Jake was saved in New York, he wasn’t able to die in Roland’s world. Roland remembers his death, but because Roland saved Jake in his first world, he can’t die in his second. A paradox is ripping Roland’s mind apart.
The group Susannah, Eddie, and Roland travel on. They camp. Roland teaches Eddie and Susannah how to be gunslingers. He tells them not to forget the faces of their fathers. In a forest they meet a giant bear. The bear is bigger than anything any of them have ever seen. They shoot a satellite coming out of the top of the bear’s head. In the bear’s den they find other small robots. The bear is not a complete robot; it lived and breathed and bled. They don’t know what to make of the bear other than it’s called Shardik. A voice from the bear continues to talk even after it’s dead.
Roland tells the group that the bear was one of the guardians. There had been twelve. They had been made by the old ones. The guardians guarded the twelve portals. Six lines connect the twelve portals. In the middle of those lines is the dark tower. The lines are called beams. The group decides to follow the beams.
Eddie carves a key. He sees it in the fire. He begins having dreams. He has dreams of Jake. In the other world, Jake is still alive. He feels that he isn’t supposed to be. He feels that he too is going crazy. He looses time. He knows he’s supposed to be dead, but part of him says he’s still alive. He realizes that he must leave his own world, but he doesn’t know where to find the door. Jake also finds a key and a rose.
Eddie feels that Jake is going to come through to mid-world. When Jake finally does make it to mid-world, the group comes upon a strange city that used to be called Lud. The city is divided into old people and strange wild people who aren’t very pleasant. Jake makes a friend of a strange animal named a bumbler. Jake narrowly escapes the town alive. The group knows they must meet and ride on a train called Blaine.
It turns out Blaine is more alive than any of them suspected. He’s a pain, after all. The group must soon play their lives in a game of riddles.
What I liked
Stephen, by logic, as a great writer, must also be a great reader. It’s evident in his writing. He references works of literature by other people, citing The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien as an inspiration for this series, but he also references Shardik by Richard Adams. I’ve never read that book, maybe I should. Stephen also references himself. He references both The Shining and Sometimes They Come Back. He may actually reference more of his own work, but I haven’t read enough of Stephen’s work to know for sure. It’s obvious that Stephen is a reader.
Probably one of the more obvious references to Middle Earth in this book is the game of riddles. It is true that Bilbo was not on a death train, but he was still riddling for his life. Gollum was going to eat him. The obvious reference to Middle Earth in the name of mid-world is also there.
I think the characters are becoming more fleshed out. We’re learning more about Eddie. We’re learning more about Susannah. We’re learning more about Roland and about Jake. What we’re able to learn about all of these characters couldn’t really be contained in one book. It’s kind of neat to see them develop across multiple books.
What I didn’t like
Stephen creates an awfully bleak world. The idea of time not being determinable anymore keeps popping up in the series. That may seem like no big deal, but really, what if something happened and we couldn’t maintain our perception of time? What if there was some sort of weird solar flare or misalignment of the Earth that caused our days to be longer or shorter? That may not make any sense at all, but in theory, there are things that could happen to the Earth that could cause our days to become either longer or shorter. The problem is whether or not those things would kill us, most likely, they would, but on the off-chance that they didn’t, the people left behind would have a hard time of life. Our Circadian rhythms are set by the current day/night cycle. Imagine trying to maintain yourself in a world where your Circadian rhythm couldn’t grab a hold of anything. We’d probably all go insane.
Stephen gets really out-there in some of his story plot-lines. He’s Stephen King; he does that. The out-there-ness of Stephen’s stories can make them hard to follow. If you’re a very logically oriented person, you’re simply not going to go for oracles in standing stone circles, ghosts, talking trains, and areas where you seem to pass between two worlds, or more. If you’re a more open-minded person, the idea of all this out-there-ness, may not be so intimidating. I’m kind of on the fence of some of this out-there-ness, but I understand enough of what Stephen is talking about to wrap my head around the story.
Riddle me this, Batman…
blaine, blaine is a pain, bumbler, dark tower, jake, lud, midworld, roland, stephen king, susannah, talking train, the dark tower, the dark tower series by stephen king, the wastelands, The Wastelands by Stephen King, train
Doyle-Sir Arthur Conan, Sherlock Holmes