Return to the Dark Tower saga

Last year I took part in Teresa & Jenny’s Dark Tower readalong at Shelf Love, but I dropped out after book four in the series. I didn’t have the time to get through the increasing page-count then, but was definitely hooked by the genre-busting dystopian western cum SF & fantasy series.

I always intended to return the following summer to read the remaining couple of thousand pages!  However, events prompted me to pick up book five sooner; more of that below.

The Dark Tower #5 – Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King

This is a series of books which you have to begin at the beginning, it would be nigh on impossible to join in successfully partway through, despite the author’s summary at the beginning of each volume.

The Wolves of the Calla introduces a major new character. Pere Callahan is an ex-drunk priest from New York who, like the rest of Roland Deschain’s ka-tet (fate-bound compadres), found his way into Roland’s world when life got too hot in his own.  The ka-tet make his acquaintance as they stop in Calla Bryn Sturgis on their quest to the tower, and we soon find out that he will become essential to the story.

Meanwhile the folks of the Calla are expecting something awful to happen, and  believe that the Gunslingers could be their salvation. Once every generation, the ‘Wolves’ arrive in force and carry away half the children, who return to their families years later as mutant idiots. They can’t let it happen again…

This traditional Western guns-for-hire against the bandits story forms the back-bone to this chunkster, but the real plot developments are in all the other bits. It gets quite complex but holes get filled in and back-stories expanded, and more strands start. Such is King’s skill though that it all hangs together really well. The final battle is everything it should be, and the cliff-hanger coda left me dying to open volume six.  (8.5/10)

Or should I read the new volume 4.5 instead?  

King’s latest novel is another in the Dark Tower series set between books 4 & 5 called The Wind Through the Keyhole.  Jenny and Teresa have already read and reviewed it here.

I only really mention it because I entered a Facebook competition to have my photo included in a photo montage on the back cover of the UK hardback – and I’m on there – somewhere!

I was sent a link to my exact location – but the link is now broken and I can’t remember where I am (serve me right for not printing it out). There are over 7000 photos on there, so it may take some time with an enlargement and a magnifying glass to find me again if I bother.

I bought my copies. To explore further on Amazon UK, please click below:
The Dark Tower #5 – Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King, Pub Hodder 2003, 771pp.
The Wind Through the Keyhole: A Dark Tower Novel by Stephen King, pub Hodder & Stoughton, April 2012, Hardback 352pp

6 thoughts on “Return to the Dark Tower saga

  1. Alex says:

    I always have a problem coming back to series because even with the help of a summary there are important details I seem to have forgotten. There was a time when I would have gone back and re-read the previous books, but when you get into a fifteen novel sequence that really isn’t that practical!

    • gaskella says:

      I know what you mean, but here there’s only about eight months between reading books 4 & 5, and it was all still there luckily.

  2. sakura says:

    That is SO cool, Annabel. Especially since you are such a fan of the series! I have the first book in the series and am tempted to start it since so many people have said good things about it including yourself (and now I’ve completed Steven Erikson’s Malazan series). I hardly read westerns so it’ll be a new thing for me.

    • gaskella says:

      It’s much much more than just a western Sakura, although that is the main underlying milieu. There’s some very dark fantasy, steampunky SF, and urban fantasy in it, with some horror edges, and – because I didn’t want to bore people with the plot, I didn’t mention the metafiction twist that came in at the end!

      So if you do embark on the Dark Tower quest, I hope you enjoy it too! I’ll take me some time to finish this series, but I might well have a look at the Malazan books afterwards.

  3. Teresa says:

    That is so cool about the book cover!

    I’m really glad you’re continuing to enjoy the series so much. I liked Wolves a lot too, but I know many people did not. I recommend going right into Song of Susannah, instead of back-tracking to Wind Through the Keyhole. I’ll warn you that SoS is probably the weakest in the series, but it has some great moments. Wind is wonderful, but it’s practically a stand-alone book that just happens to be set in Mid-World, so I’d finish the series first and then go back.

    • gaskella says:

      Thanks for the advice Teresa – I shall save WTTK for a treat after the end. It’s a shame the weblink key to the faces appears to have broken, but I recall I was near some lightning, so that could narrow it down (unless I’m wrong 😉 )

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