When I first found out about this series, I wanted to read it all in one go. And then I found out that Stephen King built a whole universe around this series – in his other fiction. So I decided to take it a bit more slowly and delve into other King books as well. So far, reading any Stephen King has paid off, and some books have fairly obvious references to the Dark Tower series that made me giggle as if I’d found an easter egg. Nowadays, it’s all on the internet, easy to be found. Which doesn’t make the hunt any less thrilling.
published: New English Library 2003 (1997)
series: The Dark Tower #4
my rating: 9/10
first sentence: “ASK ME A RIDDLE,” Blaine invited. “Fuck you,” Roland said.
Wizard and Glass picks up where the last book left off, with our hero, Roland, and his unlikely band of followers escaping from one world and slipping into the next. And it is there that Roland tells them a story, one that details his discovery of something even more elusive than the Dark Tower: love. But his romance with the beautiful and quixotic Susan Delgado also has its dangers, as her world is tom apart by war. Here is Roland’s journey to his own past, to a time when valuable lessons awaited him, lessons of loyalty and betrayal, love and loss.
And the broken record continues. This is awesome!
This book differs a lot from the others in the series, because 90% of it are a flashback into Roland’s past. 14-year-old Roland is sent to Mejis with his friends Alain and Cuthbert – both of which I came to love very easily. It is in a small town called Hambry that he doesn’t only discover first love but also a plot that could threaten his own home and people. One might think that after the enormous cliffhanger of book three, I’d be annoyed that we only spend enough time with Eddie, Jake and Susannah to get them settled around a fire where Roland can tell his tale. But, to be honest, I got so drawn into Roland’s past and this new cast of characters that I wouldn’t have minded reading another book solely about Roland’s former ka-tet.
While our well-known (and more and more beloved) characters still feature in this novel, we are introduced to a lot of new ones. New for us readers, not for Roland. His first love, Susan Delgado, the extremely scary with Rhea (I shudder to think of her), the despicable aunt Cord, or the Big Coffin Hunters – they all come to life on the pages of this novel and manage to evoke some emotional response from be, be it fear, disgust, compassion of love. In a flashback told by the progatonist, you can be sure he’ll survive. This does not mean, however, that there wasn’t a myriad of moments where I feared for him and his companions. King is truly the master of suspense!
We do learn new things about the quest to the Tower, despite spending most of the novel in the past. The new themes and ideas were mindblowing and kept me hooked for hundreds of pages at a time. I keep my reviews spoiler-free, so all I’m going to say is that the title of this instalment in the series is well chosen.The flashback also made Roland more human to me. While in the first book he comes of as this perfect hero without much going for him except his obsession for the Tower, he has grown more likable and more real in subsequent novels. After this, I care for him as much as I do for Jake and Oy (he’s still my favorite) and Eddie and Susannah. In my reader’s heart, this is the book that cements them as ka-tet.
What surprised me was how beautifully the love story was told. Sure, Stephen King is great at shocking and scaring his audience, but I know believe that he could write anything he sets his mind to. I was drawn into Roland’s love story, I completely understood how his 14-year-old heart could beat for nothing but his beloved and how preoccupied a teenage mind gets when in love. Despite King’s worries in the afterworld, I think he’s done an extraordinary job and written a better love story than many romance authors manage.
After Roland has finished telling his story, we do shortly return to our present day ka-tet. And they deliver one of the most awesome show-downs I can remember. There is no mean cliffhanger this time but I loved how King decided to weave in more references to literature and pop culture. He manages to conjure up childhood memories and scenes from famous books and twist them so they’re utterly scarey and make you feel just as frightened as Eddie, Jake, and Susanah. I also feel the urge to read The Stand very soon because it is the novel that feeds most heavily into this part of the Dark Tower series.
Stephen King’s afterword is well worth reading as well. He is not just a brilliant writer but he’s also so damn likable! In my opinion (and it may only last until I’ve read the next book) this is the best novel in the series so far.
THE GOOD: New characters, an amazing story that gives Roland more personality and keeps you hooked on every page. A beautiful love story and an awesome ending.
THE BAD: There is one passage that got drawn out a bit too long for my taste.
THE VERDICT: Yet another fantastic instalment in this series. I am growing fonder and fonter of the story, the characters and the quest for the Dark Tower. More please!
RATING: 9/10 Pretty close to perfection!
- The Gunslinger
- The Drawing of the Three
- The Waste Lands
- Wizard and Glass
- Wolves of the Calla
- Song of Susannah
- The Dark Tower
- The Wind Through the Keyhole