If you asked me before I started this reread what my favorite Dark Tower book was I would have said either The Drawing of Three or the third book in the series; The Wastelands. While the second entry of the series sees Roland begin to form his Ka-tet, The Wastelands has Roland adding the final member of his ka-tet and begin, in earnest his journey toward the Dark Tower. Prior to this, first on his own and then with only Eddie and Susannah by his side, Roland was questing for the Tower but once he adds Jake and Oy to his group, they are able to follow the path of the beam and continue to move forward to the Tower.
As I talked about in my last Dark Tower review, this book and The Drawing of Three basically run into each other and tell the same story. The same is true for the beginning of Wizard and Glass, as it completes the Blaine the Mono story that begins during The Wastelands. I love this book for many reasons. There is a tremendous amount of action in it and it doesn’t really slow down from the beginning to the end. From Eddie killing the bear at the beginning and starting to see himself as a Gunslinger for the first time, to pulling Jake into Midworld, to saving Jake from gasher and the Tick-Tock Man to the showdown without Blaine the Mono, the book is chock full of action. While it is the longest of the first three Dark Tower books, it is also the easiest to get through with all of that going on.
The plot for the rest of the series starts to come together in this book as well. In the first two books, it isn’t necessarily clear where the series is headed other than the fact that Roland is headed toward the tower and he is bringing people from our world along the way with him. But in this story King sets the stage for events that will happen later on in the series. When Jake is drawn, for example, Susannah is forced to hold off the monster trying to attack Eddie by having sex with it. To do this, Susannah calls on her alter ego Detta Walker. The result of this is Susannah becoming pregnant with the child that would become Mordred, who plays a larger role later in the series. There is other foreshadowing throughout this book, including many times when Eddie questions if Roland is truly a part of their ka-tet or if he is just using them all to achieve his ultimate goal of getting to the dark tower.
This book also includes my favorite single scene in any of the dark tower books. I loved the scene the first time I read the book and I loved it again this time through, even knowing the outcome. I don’t think I’m alone when I list the Blaine the Mono scene at the end of the book as my favorite. King does an incredible job for much of the book building up Blaine the Mono as an all-knowing supercomputer. He also set the scene by having Roland, Eddie, Susannah, and Jake talk about riddles throughout most of the book. When you get to the final showdown with Blaine, it isn’t really that surprising that the group will be trying to stump Blaine with riddles.
The tension builds throughout the final scene of the book and ends on a cliffhanger because we don’t know how the battle with Blaine will end up. If there is a complaint about this book, it’s that it doesn’t really give the reader a payoff in the showdown with Blaine. The end of that comes at the very beginning of Wizard and Glass. That being said, the book is still my favorite one of my favorite series. While King may not have known all the details that were to come from the series at this point in its writing, it is clear that he had a pretty good idea where the series was going and what he wanted to do in future books.
I find as I read through these books again that my perspective has changed. I was probably 14 or 15 when I first read The Wastelands and while I enjoyed the book I found Jake to be the most interesting character. The dynamic between Eddie and Roland is something that didn’t register much with teenage me but now that I’m closing in on 40 (a little too rapidly in my opinion) that relationship is by far the most intriguing within the dark tower series.
That’s all I have on The Wastelands, as always, long days and pleasant nights.
Check out book one HERE
Check out book two HERE
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