Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “The Dark Tower”

Scootsa1000’s #CBR4 Reviews 50 & 51: Wolves of the Calla (Dark Tower 5) and Song of Susannah (Dark Tower 6) by Stephen King

For anyone out there that has made their way though Stephen King’s Dark Tower opus, you know that the last three books have definitely split the Constant Reader’s opinion. Many feel that King went way over the top by inserting himself into the narrative, while others didn’t mind it so much, and just wanted to go with the flow of the tale. Personally, I didn’t care. I just wanted to know what was up on at the top of the Dark Tower, and who from Roland’s Ka-Tet would make it there.

The first time I read Wolves of the Calla, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. And I found that I still enjoyed it this time around. Its a much lighter (and shorter) book than some of its predecessors, that takes place over a short 30-day time period. A quick refresher: Roland and his friends find themselves in the small, idyllic town of Calla Bryn Sturgis. The townspeople need the help of the gunslingers: in 30 days, “wolves” from Thunderclap will come and take half of their children away, only to have them returned “roont” (i.e., mentally and physically changed, and not for the better). The good folks of the Calla want the gunslingers to help them stand against the Wolves and save their children. Its a classic western tale — taking many plot points from The Magnificent Seven/The Seven Samurai, as well as Star Wars, Harry Potter, Marvel Comics, and even King’s own ‘Salems Lot (with the re-introduction of Father Callahan, the vampire-fighting Pere of the Calla).

Song of Susannah, however, was my least favorite Dark Tower book when I first read it. And I can safely say that it will always be my least favorite.

As a character, and a member of Roland’s Ka-Tet, Susannah Dean has never been all that interesting to me. And having an entire book be more or less about her doesn’t help. A quick refresher: Susannah finds a new personality has taken over her body — that of Mia, who is pregnant with a child that belongs to The Crimson King. Mia and Susannah are transported through the  magic door in the Calla to deliver the baby in New York. The Ka-Tet splits up: Roland and Eddie go to Maine to find Calvin Tower and make sure he sells them his vacant lot, and Jake and Pere Callahan (and Oy!) go to New York to find and help Susannah (and really, only appear briefly in the book). And oh, its also when Stephen King becomes a major character in the story.

I’m about to start the last — and most controversial — Dark Tower book. I remember not minding the ending the first time I read it…we’ll see if that hold true this time or not.

Lastly, recently Aaron Paul announced that he’d love to play Eddie Dean if these books ever really get turned into a movie. How perfectly wonderful would that be?

Four stars for Wolves of the Calla.  Two stars for Song of Susannah.  Five stars for Aaron as Eddie.

You can read more of my reviews on my blog.

Scootsa1000’s #CBR4 Review 46: The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King

When I first took on the challenge of last year’s CBR3, I decided that I’d attempt to re-read the massive Dark Tower series.  I finished the first three books in no time at all…and then, well, there was the fourth book.

The fourth book took me so long to finish, that while I was reading it, Stephen King went ahead and wrote a brand new Dark Tower book.  Supposedly, this new book would fit nicely between Wizard and Glass and The Wolves of the Calla.  And while I was eager to get back to the story of Eddie and Jake and the path of the beam (and Oy!), I decided to give the new book a quick read and see how it fits into the DT universe.

The Wind Through the Keyhole is actually three stories in one.  In the first, Roland and his ka-tet have just left the emerald palace where they find themselves at the end of Wizard and Glass.  They come to a huge river that they need to cross, and meet a lovely older man who has a ferry, and is happy to take them across.  And then he warns them about the coming storm…a “starkblast” and tells them to take shelter sooner than later.  Roland and friends find shelter just in time — the wind starts whipping and freezing, killing everything in its path.  As they wait out the storm, Roland tells them another story from his past…

Roland tells them of an adventure he had (not long after the affair of Susan Delgado), where he and his fellow gunslinger Jaime were sent to a nearby town to look into the mystery of what has been killing and terrorizing the locals.  Some report they had seen a bear, and some say a wolf.  Roland’s been told that perhaps it is a “skin man” — a cursed man that can shift shapes at ease.  When the skin man kills dozens at a local ranch, Roland and Jaime find the lone survivor, a young boy who is scared to death.  While waiting for a posse to round up some suspects, Roland tells young Bill his favorite story from when he was Bill’s age: The Wind Through the Keyhole.

This is a fairy tale, a story of a young boy named Tim who has lost his father and is suffering at the hands of his cruel stepfather, and who risks everything to save his mother.  Fans of Stephen King will see many details connecting this simple, yet pleasant tale, to the world of the Dark Tower…North Central Positronics, nineteen, gunslingers, dogans, and our old friend Randall Flagg.  Tim journeys through a dangerous land to find the famous Maerlyn the magician, looking for help for his mother.  He also finds himself stuck in a starkblast, along with a tiger and a bit of magic. And Tim himself grows up to become a brave gunslinger, the stuff of legends.

Not the most exciting Stephen King book out there, but a nice bit of storytelling, and it fits nicely between books four and five of the Dark Tower series.

Scootsa1000’s #CBR4 Review 44: The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King

Another super quick review from the huge pile of finished books on my desk…

A few weeks ago, while reading TylerDFC’s review of The Night Circus, I was reminded of how much I love Stephen King’s criminally overlooked The Eyes of the Dragon.  I’ve read this book a few times, first in high school, then again while I was waiting for the last few Dark Tower books to come out (I went through a phase while I was waiting…I read everything I could get my hands on that had a tie to the Dark Tower universe…Insomnia, Salems’ Lot, Rose Madder, short stories, etc.).  I just finished reading it for the third time, and it holds up just as well as ever.

What I love most about this book is that it was written specifically for his young (at the time) daughter, Naomi (who also features as a heroic character in the story).  Naomi King had complained to her father that he had written all of these famous books, but that she hadn’t been allowed to read any of them yet.  And so her dad wrote her this book — a bit of a derivation from his normal writing, this story is a fantasy-based fairy tale.

The Eyes of the Dragon tells the tale of King Roland of Delain, his beautiful young wife Sasha, his two sons Peter and Thomas, and his evil magician Flagg (as in Randall).  King Roland is getting older, and his power is slowly being handed over to his chief advisor, Flagg.  When Queen Sasha (a major vocal opponent to Flagg) is about to give birth to Prince Thomas, Flagg arranges her murder, leaving Roland to raise the boys on his own.  Prince Peter is smart and brave and strong, and will someday make a wonderful King, which of course threatens Flagg. But Thomas is a different sort of boy — a bit bitter, definitely jealous, and not as smart as Peter — all traits that Flagg finds much more appealing.  Flagg engineers the murder of good King Roland, and frames Peter for his death, leaving young Thomas to become a puppet King, while Flagg runs the Kingdom.

All of this is simply the background for a wonderful tale of bravery and friendship, as well as a classic battle of good vs. evil.  Not your typical King story, but a fun fantasy.  A must for anyone interested in the world of The Dark Tower.

Scootsa1000′s #CBR4 Review 40-43: Wizard and Glass by Stephen King and the first 3 Dark Tower Graphic Novels

Last year, during the CBR3, I swore I was going to re-read all 7 books in the Dark Tower series, along with other books and stories that fall under the Dark Tower umbrella.  I read and reviewed the first three books and was cruising right along, until I got to the flashback section of Wizard and Glass.

For those who are familiar with the Dark Tower, I’m talking about Susan Delgado and the Big Coffin Hunters.  For those not familiar, sorry to bore you with my Dark Tower ramblings.

I had read this book two or three times before, and had always loved the insight into Roland’s early life.  I enjoyed the details of the sleepy, southwestern town of Mejis, and was heartbroken by the outcome of Roland and Susan’s tragic love affair.  But this time, it just didn’t click for me until the last 100 or so pages (when the young gunslingers obliterate Farson’s army) — in particular, the amazing scene that takes place in Eyebolt Canyon, where the thinny lives.

I read this book on and off for almost an entire year.  Horrible, I know.  I really wanted to finish it, I wanted to get back to the world of Eddie, Jake, Roland, and Oy (oh, and Susannah, too, I guess.).  I just didn’t have the patience for the drawn out story of love and evil in the flashback that makes up the bulk of the story.  No fault of Stephen King — I think this book is some of his finest writing.  I just wasn’t into the story this time around.

However, over the past few months, I also picked up the three graphic novels that correspond with Wizard and Glass: The Gunslinger Born, The Long Road Home, and Treachery.

These I found much easier to get through, and appreciated all of the extra detail added to the story in order to give better understanding of future events to long-time Dark Tower fans.  For instance, we find out that Roland was rescued from Maerlyn’s Grapefruit by Sheemie, and that Sheemie received his special “breaker” powers accidentally when he stumbled upon a Dogan (similar to those in Wolves of the Calla), and was “experimented” on by a robot.  We also get a much more detailed breakdown of the events concerning the death of Roland’s mother and how Farson’s men infiltrate Gilead.

Don’t get me wrong, Wizard and Glass is a great book and a wonderful story (and these companion comics are pretty good, too).  I just really wanted to get back to the “path of the beam” and leave the past behind.

You can read more about my obsession with all things Stephen  King on my blog.

Alli’s #CBR4 Review #38: The Wastelands by Stephen King


All I have to say is that I am very glad that I have the next book in the series and I don’t have to wait 6 years for the next chapter in this engaging story. “The Wastelands” is the third book in the Dark Tower series by Stephen King. See here for my reviews of the first two books in the series.

Read the rest on my blog

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