In the third installment of the Dark Tower series, the gunslinger and his companions (Eddie, Susannah) continue their journey towards the tower. Roland feels like he’s slowly losing his mind, as he struggles to reconcile the events of the first book and the second — in one, Jake the boy dies and in the other, he lives. Meanwhile, in New York in the 1970s, Jake, too, feels like his mind has split into two separate narratives that he cannot combine.
“Roland grabbed Jake and hauled him to his feet. “You came!” Jake shouted. “You really came!” “I came, yes. By the grace of the gods and the courage of my friends, I came.”
The book breaks into two main parts. First, the story of how Jake makes his way to the others: the rose in the parking lot, the two books (one about a train, the other about the riddles), the constant feeling that what he needs is just beyond a door. Once Jake makes it into Roland’s world, the ka-tet (now joined by a semi-tame Billy bumbler named Oy) makes its way towards the abandoned (or is it…) City of Lud. In Lud, there’s a train that Jake knows to be significant — and evil.
The story of Jake coming into the gunslinger’s world is the best part of the novel. The characters all work together to make it happen, and it’s wonderful. The City of Lud is good and creepy, inhabited by evil gangs fighting each other to please a god that doesn’t exist. But the latter part of the novel, once they get to the train, feels mostly like set up for the next book (since it is). Luckily for me, I read the series once they had all been released; others who read them as they were published had to wait six years to see our ka-tet get off that train.