Roland and his ka-tet (all the protagonists who are on the quest) have been delayed in their path to the Dark Tower with the need to save the town of Calla’s children from being stolen and then returned “roont” (ruined both mentally and physically.)
This is the fifth book in the Dark Tower series, there are currently a total of seven books, and Stephen King announced in 2009 that he is currently working on the eighth book, The Wind Through the Keyhole which will be released at some point in the future. Stephen King is primarily known as a horror author, but this book does not fall into that genre. Instead it is in the fantasy genre and it is sometimes considered a western. The story is told with a third person narrative and focuses primarily on Roland Deschain of Gilead. Although at times it also focuses on some of the other characters who have joined Roland on his quest to find and heal the Dark Tower. They are all Gunslingers and his fellow questees are Eddie Dean of New York (from 1987) and his wife Susanna Dean of New York (from 1964) as well as their adopted son, Jake Chambers of New York (from 1977.) The Dark Tower is at the centre of the universe and connects all the varying worlds and time-lines together. These books take place in a post-apocalyptic world where things are running down and time has become inconsistant.
This book deals primarily with the Gunslingers working with the towns people in the hopes of saving the children of the Calla from the “Wolves”. Once a generation the “Wolves” come to steal half the children and send them back “roont”. When the children are returned, they are mentally retarded to the point where they can barely do much for themselves. They also grow to become giants and in the process they suffer great pain. They have short lives and when they pass away, they also suffer great pain.
While they are working on a plan, there is derision and divisiveness within the town. We get to know the town folk and we learn more about our characters, although there is not a lot of character development. But there is a climax building up to the point of the arrival of the wolves and the story Stephen King weaves is told very well and it is extremely interesting. There are also a couple of other storylines going on simultaneously which keeps things intriguing.
It is interesting to note that the main character from Salam’s Lot, Callahan reappears in this book as a preacher known as the “old fella” and this book ties Salam’s Lot to the Gunslinger’s quest in a very interesting manner. I really enjoyed reading this book as well as all the previous books in this series. The story is masterfully told, it was particularly touching to read about Jake’s challenges between his loyalty to his new friend and his gunslinger duty. It is fun to read how the people of this town talk with “the thank-ye big, big” (as they say in the Calla.) The big battle scene at the end was exciting but pretty straight forward without any surprises.
Although this book did a good job of resolving the Calla’s problem with the wolves, it did not do a good job of resolving the other story-lines which were unfolding at the same time. This book ended with a cliff-hanger. I personally prefer a book that ties up all the story-lines by the end of the book, so in this area the book fell short for me. For this reason and for the way the wolves were dealt with at the end of the book I gave the book a 3 Treasure Box rating.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good story, but please read the prior books first as this book is not really a stand-alone book. If you enjoy reading fantasy/science fiction books then you will definitely enjoy this book since it has a bit of both within it.