Book Review: Wizard and Glass

Wizard and Glass by Stephen King, The Dark Tower #4

Wizard and Glass picks up where the last book left off, with our hero, Roland, and his unlikely band of followers escaping from one world and slipping into the next. And it is there that Roland tells them a story, one that details his discovery of something even more elusive than the Dark Tower: love. But his romance with the beautiful and quixotic Susan Delgado also has its dangers, as her world is tom apart by war. Here is Roland's journey to his own past, to a time when valuable lessons awaited him, lessons of loyalty and betrayal, love and loss.

Earlier this year I decided that I was going to continue with my earlier proposed reread of The Dark Tower series. I was left at The Drawing of Three, the second book in the series two years ago. I read The Waste Lands a month ago, the fourth book in line is Wizard and Glass. And as I had mentioned in the review of the first graphic novel of The Dark Tower, The Gunslinger Born series they are the same. But only a few pages into Wizard and Glass I came to understand just how much more wealth, ambiance and overall feeling the novels have. Not to say that the graphic novels are bad, no they are good ( I plan to review them aswell) but the novels are just a class apart. 

So anyway, where was the story left? The Waste Lands ended with Roland's ka-tet on Blaine-is-a-train-is-a-pain the Mono. Blaine was transporting them across the desert waste land to Topeka. However there was a catch. Blaine would not self destruct if Roland's ka-tet would offer him a riddle he couldn't solve in a the time it took Blaine to travel. If they couldn't he would destoy himself.. with his passengers of course... 

The story of Wizard and Glass picks up smack middle in the riddling contest. If I want to review the story a bit more I do have to say that in the end (small spoiler) Roland and his ka-tet manage to beat Blaine, how they do it I wont tell you, you should ask the chicken...  After making it out of the ruins of Blaine somewhat unscathed Roland starts to spin a story. A story about his troubled past. For the most time the focus has been solely on Roland, Jake, Eddie, and Oy and their quest for the ever illusive Dark Tower. In Wizard and Glass, Stephen King stirs away from the current track and tells a past story. We have vaguely heard references of some of Roland's friend, Cuthbert and Alain and Susan Delgado has also been mentioned. Now we get to experience them for our own. 

When Roland was a young lad he was trained to become a gunslinger. Due to some (un)foreseen events by Steven Deschain's councilor Marten Broadcloak , Roland was forced into taking his test of aptitude with Cort (his trainer) early on so he could confront Marten. However as tension starts to mount, Steven send Roland together with two of his childhood friends Alain and Cuthbert to the Barony of Mejis to the town of Hambry, for safety and for other things. They are send in a disguise to count inventory in the name of the Affiliation, but something bigger might be in play with keeping an eye on The Good Man, John Farson. No one knows that they are a gunslinger and gunslingers in training. Roland, Alain and Cuthbert are viewed upon as just rich kids, they did adopt cover names though William Dearborn, Richard Stockworth and Arthur Heath respectively. Soon after arriving in Hambrey, Roland meets Susan Delgado, the promised girl to the towns Mayor Thorin. Roland and Susan get on the right foot but Susan has made a promise with implications if not uphold, and their relation becomes difficult and awkward at times. Coinciding with the appearance of Roland and his friends, is the appearance of the Big Coffin Hunters in Hambry led by Eldred Jonas, who are in league with John Farson. Being young of age and somewhat trouble makers on their own, Roland, Alain and Cuthbert soon start to stir up trouble when there the famous bar encounter when the town fool, Sheemie, has to lick the boots clean of Roy Depape. Alain steps in to save Sheemie and soon everything escalates. Nobody is killed just yet, and the town sheriff forces to call it quits and keep the peace but the damage is done and here on forth the tension is there every other way. Now I totally have forgot the mention of the dirty with Rhea of the Coos. She is a nasty person, and in control of something spectacular. Maerlyn's Grapefruit, which gives Rhea something of foresight and a scouting ability. With this she tries to meddle in a lot of affaris and one of them being the affair of Roland and Susan. Everything escalates when Roy Depape of the Big Coffin Hunters set a play in motion that forces Roland and his friends to set their cards in motion. They are being framed for something they haven't commit, and in the end there is only one thing left to do. Kill Eldred Jonas and his Big Coffin Hunters. Here Roland had to part with Susan and this has dire consequences for both of them as he will likely not see her again, alive that is... But the story is far from over after this long flashback to Mejis, Roland takes Eddie, Jake and Susannah back to one other memorable day in Roland's history, that where he killed a certain someone, disguised that is. A day like many others that is branded in the mind of Roland. After telling this important story, Roland and his current ka-tet, that of Eddie, Susannah, Jake and Oy, find them self once again on the path of the Beam. 

After three stories in the "current" setting I found it especially nice to see Stephen King steer away from those events and take us back a crucial timeframe for Roland, a timeframe in which he truly became a man. The world and story so far has been rich and with taking the reader back, Stephen King nicely grows his world. Of course by this you get to first understand how characters got to be but also learn new characters. Like for starters finally putting more face to Alain, Cuthbert and Susan. I really liked Alain and Cuthbert, they have different personalities than Roland, and even though they are friends the confrontations can get very heated, luckily there is also some very nice banter and laughter moment between the friend. Now one character that has truly captured my heart is Sheemie. He is a mentally handicapped person but none the lesser by it though. Sheemie works in the inn, The Traveller's Rest, serving customers and aiding townfolk and though he is presumed stupid, much mroe about him meets the eye, like when he is passing notes between Roland and Susan, hush-a-boo! Sheemie knows darn well what is playing in town. I was especially taken by the emotion that was put behind his character especially the relation he build with his new friend Cuthbert and how proud he is to be his friend and that Cuthbert saved his life and that he has a weird lookout a bird skull that he walks around with. It's hard to describe but once you get to read the feeling that Sheemie has to Cuthbert, you also will shed a tear. 

Once again Stephen King has deliverd a book to The Dark Tower series that will get you reading non-stop. As I already said, steering away from the current path to write a "flashback" book right in the middle of the series only paid off to the fullest. ALlowing you to recapture the first three books, expanding his universe even more by some of Roland's childhood friend of terrible memories thereof but also setting Roland's latest ka-tet on the path of the Beam once again and well not preparing you for what might be instore for the last three books. SInce this is a re-read I know what will be in store for me in Wolves of the Calla but I am still look forward to it very, very much. Anyone up for Harry Potter references en robots? Stay tuned! Or read it yourself, as you should!

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