Oh, this is definitely one of the best Dark Tower books. We’ve known all along that something terrible happened to a girl named Susan Delgado, and that this terrible thing affected Roland deeply, turning him into the man he is now. And here, in Wizard and Glass, we learn the whole story.
“True love, like any other strong and addicting drug, is boring — once the tale of encounter and discovery is told, kisses quickly grow stale and caresses tiresome… except, of course, to those who share the kisses, who give and take the caresses while every sound and color of the world seems to deepen and brighten around them. As with any other strong drug, true first love is really only interesting to those who have become its prisoners. And, as is true of any other strong and addicting drug, true first love is dangerous.”
Wizard and Glass begins on Blaine the Pain, but when our heroes escape him, they find themselves somewhere rather unexpected: Topeka, Kansas, sometime in the late 1980s. It’s not the 1980s Kansas of Eddie’s world however — this Kansas has been ravaged by a superflu called Captain Tripps, which appears to have taken out the whole country (and also makes me wanted to reread The Stand, but it’ll have to wait!). After exploring this world for a bit, they settle down to hear Roland’s tale.
The majority of the rest of the book occurs as a flashback. 14 year old Roland and his two friends, Alain and Cuthbert (who is basically Eddie, which is good because Wizard and Glass definitely lacks in the Eddie department), have been sent to Hambry under the guise of a punishment — counting inventory for the Alliance. In reality, they’re sent from Gilead for their own protection. Two major things happen in Hambry — they stumble across a plot involving “the Good Man”, and Roland meets Susan. Susan Delgado, who is just lovely and one of my favorite Stephen King heroines, has been promised as concubine to the mayor, after the Reap in 3 months. When she and Roland fall in love, things get very, very complicated.
Wizard and Glass allows us a viewing of Roland as a young man — full of passion and more than capable of making mistakes. It’s difficult to watch everything he goes through, knowing how much more pain and suffering lies in his future. But it’s wonderful to see him in love, and his camaraderie with his original ka-tet really rounds him out as a character.