I have been consistently conflicted about “The Dark Tower” series. Somehow, in spite of my frustrations, annoyances, aggravations, and declared boredom, I cannot put it down! This book, Book Four, Wizard and Glass, is a perfect example of this conflict: I am in love with the characters who come from “our” world: Eddie, Susannah, and Jake, the normals with whom, of course, we’re meant to identify, are the perfect hook for me. And then there’s sweet and loyal and probably brilliant, Oy, the billy bumbler for whom I’d probably step into traffic. But meanwhile, there’s Roland, who is a thrilling hero, but hard to get behind because he’s the least sympathetic of the bunch, and the reason why I almost put down The Gunslinger, which would have meant avoiding this whole mess in which I’ve found myself. And this book… this book is a prequel in sequel’s clothing!
When I realized this was happening, I immediately started counting pages. The edition I was reading has 1010 pages (THANKS, STEVE!), and according to the Table of Contents, the section called “Susan” is 338 pages. I thought to myself, I can make it. And then I hit the Interlude (I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, these books are remarkably and perfectly structured), after which, it turned out the NEXT section was another 416 pages of the continuing Chronicles of Roland and Susan. And I will be damned, but by the time I realized it was happening, I was completely and totally hooked. I delayed meals. I avoiding walking the dog. I put my reading glasses on, and went full Rhea of Cöos over the Wizard Glass.
He got me again.
Quick but big spoilers after this…
I will also note that I rage-texted a friend – the same very patient friend who got the “The Shining” text from me when I was reading The Drawing of the Three – when I got to Topeka and suddenly read the words “Tube-Neck” and “Captain Trips.” I’m making my peace with it. With Randall Flagg, with the Wizard of Oz, with all of it. If Stephen King wants all of his universes to take place on the head of an acupuncture pin in the middle of Castle Rock, so be it. I’m not going to fight him any more. He can do what he wants, and I’ll just have to keep reading to figure out why the Kansas City Monarchs stopped playing because everyone got the exact same strain of flu that killed the world in “our” world. And, obviously, my irritation with King’s refusal to acknowledge the likelihood of a multiverse (from my review of The Waste Lands) is fully and energetically rescinded.