Posts Tagged ‘the dark tower series’

Book Review: The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King (Series, #4.5)

July 26, 2012 4 comments

Tiger in a cage overlooking a gorge.Summary:
There’s a tale we have yet to hear about the ka-tet in the time between facing the man in the green castle and the wolves of the Calla.  A time when the ka-tet hunkered down and learned a special billy-bumbler talent, an old tale of Gilead, and the first task Roland faced as a young gunslinger after the events at Mejis.

When I heard there was going to be a new Dark Tower book, I had basically three reactions. 1) Yay! 2) Shit he better not ruin them. 3) Guess I didn’t actually finish that series after all, did I? May have written the series review a bit too soon…..

But mainly my reaction was a skeptical excitement.  I love the world of the Dark Tower and was ecstatic to be able to get more of it (yes, I know there are the young gunslinger comic books, but they feel slightly less the same to me since they are in a different format).  However, I was also terrified because well we’ve all been in an instance where we mess with something that was good to the point where it’s not good anymore, right?  I was worried King was going to do that to the Dark Tower.  I am so so so happy to be able to say that worry was unfounded.

This book goes to show just how clearly the entire world of the Dark Tower series exists in King’s mind.  The format is a story within a story within a story.  The ka-tet have to hunker down to wait out a storm, so Roland starts to tell them a story from when he was a young gunslinger.  Within that story, the young Roland tells someone else an old story of Gilead.  The Gilead story wraps up, then the young gunslinger, then the ka-tet.  A writer must know his world very well to be able to handle such a structure smoothly without confusing his reader, and King does just that.  There was no confusion and each story felt fully told. Or as fully told as anything is in the world of the Dark Tower.

I’ve said before that every book in the series basically is a different genre, which is part of what makes it so fun.  So what genre is this one?  I’d say it’s fairy tales. Once upon a times.  And fairy tales generally have a lesson to be learned within them, so what is it in these three?  Well, they vary, but I would say overall it’s about leaving aside childish things and childish ways to become an adult.  (And, I might add, that happens much much earlier in the Dark Tower than it does in our particular world).

I will say, although I certainly had the impression that this book was going to be about Jake and Oy, it really isn’t.  It isn’t much about the ka-tet at all.  It’s about Roland and the role of billy-bumblers in the world.  Although, personally I wanted more billy-bumblers, but I *always* want more billy-bumblers, because they are definitely my favorite fantastical creature.  I’m still holding out hope that King will write something sometime entirely about Oy or billy-bumblers.  But this book is not it.

That said, I was oddly not disappointed to see far less of the ka-tet than I was expecting, because the two stories within the frame of the ka-tet are so strongly told.  They are just….wow. Terrifying, horrifying, unpredictable, and hilarious simultaneously.

That’s the thing that makes any Dark Tower book fun.  It contains all of those things.

Lines can go from laugh out loud humor (with a touch of truth):

Turn yer ears from their promises and yer eyes from their titties. (page 43)

To the starkly sad truth:

Those were good years, but as we know—from stories and from life—the good years never last long. (page 110)

To the simply universal:

“What if I fail?” Tim cried.
Maerlyn laughed. “Sooner or later, we all do.” (page 255)

*shrugs* I admit I’m a bit of a fan girl of the series, but even a fan girl can be sorely disappointed, and I was really and truly not disappointed at all.  I laughed, I nodded, I wondered, I quaked, I wished for an illustration sometime somewhere of billy-bumblers dancing in a clearing in the moonlight.  Although, speaking of illustrations, how gorgeous is the US kindle cover?! So fucking gorgeous, that’s how.

Back to the point, I was not disappointed at all. I was ultimately elated and wishing for more. And other fans will be too.

5 out of 5 stars

Source: Amazon

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Books in Series:
I’m listing all of the books so you can easily see where The Wind Through the Keyhole falls.
The Gunslinger (review)
The Drawing of the Three (review)
The Waste Lands (review)
Wizard and Glass (review)
The Wind Through the Keyhole
Wolves of the Calla (review)
Song of Susannah (review)
The Dark Tower (review)
Series Review (written before we knew there would be more)

Book Review: The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King (Series, #2)

November 18, 2009 8 comments

After finishing the first stage in a long series toward finding The Dark Tower, Roland knows he must now “draw the three.”  He will recruit three people to assist him in his quest.  Now past the desert and mountains, he has reached an ocean beach where dangerous creatures lurk.  As he walks up this beach he gradually finds doors to other realities where his three assistants reside, completely unaware they are about to be drawn into a quest in another world.

The Drawing of the Three makes it abundantly clear that The Dark Tower series is all about plot and not about character development.    The characters do things that work for the plot, but make zero sense from a character stand-point.  I’m not talking about mistakes here.  I know in the real world people do stupid things.  It’s more akin to say a Nazi suddenly deciding he loves a Jew.  (That doesn’t happen in the book, but similar things do).   I personally find this jarring, but if you’re more of a plot person than a character person, it won’t bother you.

My other issue, and bare in mind that I’ve now read three Stephen King books, is that his writing tends to be misogynistic.  Sometimes it’s subtle.  An example in this book is when a pharmacist who hates his job is on the phone with a complaining female client.  Instead of thinking that he hates these people who complain, he thinks that he hates all these bitches who complain.  I, as someone who works with the public, am certain that he has had men and women complain, so why did King specify only women?  It seems whenever there’s an opportunity for a character to slur against women, they do.  I’m not saying no character should be misogynistic.  That’d be like saying no character should ever be racist.  I am saying that King shouldn’t take every opportunity to be misogynistic and run with it.

*spoiler warning*
An even better example of this is the only female character in this book, the second assistant, Odetta.  She has Dissociative Identity Disorder.  (King wrongfully calls this Schizophrenia, which is an entirely different illness).  Stereotypically, one personality is “good,” and the other is “bad.”  The good personality is grateful to the men for helping her.  She is quiet, submissive, intelligent, and strong inside.  Naturally one of the men instantaneously falls in love with her.  *rolls eyes*  The bad personality attempts to defend herself, is physically strong, and vehemently protects herself against suspected rape.  She actually tells these men that she will kill them with her cunt.  The only women I know who use that word are raging feminists attempting to reclaim the word, and that is not the context here.  She is also described as an ugly hag.  Granted later these two personalities merge into one, but the implications are there.  Men love women who act appropriately feminine.  If you behave in any unfeminine manner, you are an ugly hag they naturally want to kill.
*end spoiler*

In spite of that, though, I do still like King’s stories.  I’m mostly willing to overlook the bouts of misogyny, because the man can certainly write plot-driven horror.  The plot here is excellent.  We have doors that lead into people’s brains, horrifying creatures called “lobstrosities,” drugs, shoot-outs, infections, murderers, and more.  There is literally horror on almost every page.  I couldn’t put it down.

If you like plot-driven horror and don’t mind overlooking character development weakness, then you will enjoy this entry into the Dark Tower series.

3 out of 5 stars

Source: Borrowed

Previous Books in Series:
The Gunslinger, review

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