So after having loved the third volume in Stephen King’s amazing The Dark Tower series, I just continued straight on with the fourth book, Wizard and Class. The third book, The Waste Lands, sees the ka-tet fully formed with Eddie, Susannah and finally Jake (and Oy) as Roland’s partners on his quest to reach the tower. And it ended with a cliffhanger so I just needed to keep on reading – even though Wizard and Glass is the longest in the series with it’s 845 pages (my edition).
And it continues right where The Waste Lands left off. Our group of unlikely heroes have boarded Blaine the mono rail and are ready to try their luck at outsmarting him in a game of riddles, thus preventing him from killing himself while they’re still on board. Not an easy task since Blaine has seen it all and heard it all – he knows any and every riddle. Luckily – and necessarily because otherwise this book would not be 845 pages long – they manage to outsmart him and after having stepped out of the train, they find themselves … in Kansas, of all places.
But our group decides not to press on on their quest but instead, sit down, take it easy and listen to Roland tell the story of his youth, the story of why he is emotionally stunted and unable to love, the story of Susan.
And that’s pretty much the rest of the book. As young teenagers, Roland and his two best friends, Cuthbert and Alain, are sent away from home to keep them safe. But of course, they find themselves in even greater danger because they end up in a city strongly supporting the good man, John Farson; the man, the boys’ hometown Gilead is fighting against. The boys pretend to be send to count horses, fish nets and other things that can support in the battle against John Farson and quickly finds out that they are lied to by just about everyone in town.
Roland and Susan meets accidentally one night and Roland walks her home – and that’s it. Roland is lost and in love. But Susan isn’t exactly free to fall in love and she comes with a past which may be important in the job, the boys are trying to do. So pretty soon, the young teenagers are sneaking off and making love all over and Susan is helping the boys with their attempt to prevent John Farson for getting what he wants.
But being young and in love isn’t always the best way to be when you are also trying to sneak around some very dangerous men and a whole town, in fact, so Roland’s friends are extremely worried. And for good reasons because if the men in town aren’t dangerous enough, there’s also a witch to take into account. A witch who finds herself the guardian of a pretty pink stone; a stone, which has powers – and a will! – of it’s own.
Even though it’s nice to get some backstory to Roland, I would have preferred it to be shorter, I think. I really like spending time with Eddie, Susannah, Jake, Oy and Roland and their attempt to get to the tower and in this book, we hardly get any closer. Well, we do a bit, but not much. And knowing Roland, we know that the love story will not be a happy one – and to add to this, King uses so so much foreshadowing to let us know that things will not turn out the way the young lovers want them too, that it actually gets to be a bit too much.
One think I did like was the riddle game in the beginning, played between Blaine the mono rail and our group of heroes. I’m pretty sure that King was inspired by Tolkien when writing this – the riddle game played by Bilbo and Gollum in The Hobbit (read an interesting post about it here), especially since both authors seem to emphasize the history of riddles and the tradition of riddle contests.
I also really liked the shout-outs to The Wizard of Oz even though I have to admit that I have neither watched nor read it. I have watched a little bit of it and I did like what I saw (and not only because Toto is a cairn terrier just like my Kayleigh (except a different color)) but I didn’t finish watching it because I hadn’t seen it from the beginning. Anyway, I liked how King incorporates elements from The Wizard of Oz into the book – and how Kansas apparently has a special connection to magical worlds!
I think if this book had been anything but a part of the Dark Tower series, I would have liked it a lot more – it just didn’t fit quite in to the series for me. Or maybe it will be a better read when one rereads the series and does know how it all ends and isn’t all eager to find out. All I know is that I didn’t feel the need to just read on in the series after finishing this book as I did after finishing the third volume. But it’s not a bad book, mind you – I realize this review makes it sound like a bad and boring book and it’s really not. It’s just not as good as The Waste Lands and that is very obvious when you read them back to back.
- Title: Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower #3)
- Author: Stephen King
- Publisher: New English Library – Hodder & Stoughton
- Year: 2003 (original 1997)
- Pages: 845 pages
- Source: My boyfriend’s collection
- Stars: 4 stars out of 5