I couldn’t tell you whether it’s because I have finally given in to this journey, or whether it’s that the telling gets stronger as King’s writing matures, but riding this wave has become comfortable, easy, and more and more thrilling.
I probably should (but choose not to) brace myself for the next book, Wolves of Calla (Book 5), because this one, The Wind Through the Keyhole (Book 4.5) was written eight years after the final book of the “The Dark Tower” series. I had a choice to make: read it where it fits chronologically with the story, or chronologically with its writing. I chose “story,” which I own as a choice that I didn’t know I could make when I started with The Gunslinger (Book 1), rather than The Little Sisters of Eluria (Book 0.5), which coincidentally was written between the writing of Wizard and Glass (Book 4) and Wolves of the Calla (Book 5). I know. I can’t do it without Wikipedia, either. Stephen King: he gets you coming, or he gets you going, but he gets you eventually.
But I’m done with being annoyed. The real point is that I loved this book, and I’m glad I chose to read it at the time I did. It’s another wonderfully structured story in this series, telling THREE stories at once. The framing story is an interlude of not much consequence other than character enrichment starring our regularly scheduled heroes: Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy. In it, Roland tells an awesome tale of his younger days, which both deepened my understanding of the nature of the gunslinging mythology, while also serving as a kickass horror story in and of itself. And in that tale, Younger!Roland tells a fairy tale to a young boy who needs comfort, and this fairy tale, as with all of the mythology in “The Dark Tower” series, can’t help but seem more like history. It also fleshes out more of the themes that King borrows from Arthurian legend, gives even further context to Roland’s legacy, hints at some Narnia stuff, continues fleshing out Walter and the Crimson King, and keeps on knitting Randall Flagg into the mix.
It’s a very clever piece of writing, and I’m thrilled by how it will inform the coming books, particularly knowing that it was written after all of them. Onward!