Mini reviews: Two Dark Tower books

Whoops, there went that pesky thing called “time” again. While I’m not yet drowning, I’m definitely rapidly treading water amid all my fancy responsibilities these days, just trying to keep my head above water. Let’s see, there’s:

  • Work (though things are significantly more relaxed, pleasant and workable these days)
  • Roller derby (we’re being re-tested on the rules tomorrow … have I studied? NO)
  • BCRG’s PC/website committee
  • Planning this wedding (HAVE to send out the invitations VERY SOON)
  • Planning a certain someone’s 25th birthday tomorrow

In addition, since I last wrote here, I’ve agreed to help edit a friend’s new beer-drinkin’ website, It’s been great collaborating (albeit electronically) with some of my greatest college friends, although I’m sometimes bummed by how spread out we all are (the website is based in Denver, my fellow co-editors are in St. Louis, DC, Nashville and Colorado).

I also spent a big chunk of time this afternoon setting up a PR protocol for Bath City Roller Girls. You know, journalists like to say, “Oh, I could just go into PR if this journalism thing doesn’t work out.” Well, switching to a PR-perspective is hard as hell on this journalist. Thoughts this afternoon: Do I need to be sending out press releases? How do I write those?

Luckily, I’ve been making lots of time to read. Mainly because I read when I really should be doing other things, like wedding planning, or editing for, or working on BCRG’s website. Ah well. It’s easy to read when you’re stuck inside the world of the Dark Tower, and I might as well read when the reading’s easy, right?

It’s been so easy, in fact, that I breezed through the Wizard and Glass, as well as the NEWEST Dark Tower novel (published a few months ago), The Wind Through the Keyhole. That last book was really the impetus for me to re-read all the Dark Tower novels this summer. Why read a book that’s supposed to be between books four and five unless you read all seven? That’s what I thought.

Anyway, here’s what I thought:

The Dark Tower: Wizard and Glass by Stephen King

Date Finished: July 7

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

Year: 1997

Project: n/a

Reading List: Sumemr 2012

Quick thoughts upon finishing: Wizard and Glass is the most complete novel in the Dark Tower series (well, maybe besides Wind Through the Keyhole but more on that later), making it very accessible, even for diehard Tower fans. I mean, I love all the Tower books but sometimes they’re full of so many gosh-darned riddles and half-statements shrouded in mystery, it gets to one. Wizard and Glass is a tale from the old days, and a heartbreaking one at that. I was a little apprehensive to read it, at first, because I knew how it ended. However in the end, it ended up breaking up my Tower-binge quite nicely.

I will say, however, that my favorite part of Wizard and Glass is the story happening around it — happening, I guess, in present time. I love how Roland and his ka-tet enter the world of The Stand, my absolute FAVORITE Stephen King book. Call me a geek, but I love how it IS our world, but not our version of it. Our level of the Tower, so to speak. I love stepping into a tale where the Walkin’ Dude, or Randall Flagg as he’s known to Roland throughout Mid-World, is the main attraction.

I will say that I don’t fully understand the Wizard of Oz connection. I mean,I do and I see what King was trying to do. And it’s clever. But I guess the final piece of the metaphor has never really clicked home for me, because I don’t understand what it says for the entire series. Was Oz another world somewhere along the Tower? Is its presence in OUR world sort of like the ghostly presence of our world in Roland’s? Hmm. Like I said, not sure.

Grade: A (you know these are all getting A’s, right?)

Dark Tower: Wind Through the Keyhole by SK

Date Finished: July 10, 2012

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

Year: 2012

Project: n/a

Reading List: Summer 2012

Quick thoughts upon finishing: Let me just come right out and say it: I LOVED Wind Through the Keyhole. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it, given I’ve already read the Dark Tower series and know how it all goes down in the clearing at the end of the path. How much could they — did they need to — say?

But Wind Through the Keyhole was so, so worth it. Very much like Wizard and Glass before it, the story happens while Roland, Jake, Eddie, Susannah and Oy are taking a wee break from traveling. And it’s a story from Roland’s childhood. And something else as well, a fairy tale from Gilead. It’s a look at life during the “good years” — before the fall of Gilead, before anarchy, before “the world moved on.” If Stephen King wants the Dark Tower series to approach the territory dominated by masters of fantasy like Tolkien, he has to write these legend stories, adding depth and verite to Roland’s world.

While the story from Roland’s past isn’t that exciting (and certainly not as heartbreaking as his time in the Mejis), the tale he tells a frightened boy about another 11-year-old boy named Tim Stoutheart is fantastic. It had all the elements of a Grimm’s fairytale, and successfully made me forget I was reading a Dark Tower book. Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I devoured this book in only a few days, and I think I read the ‘Wind Through the Keyhole’ tale in about 12 hours.

I will say that Stephen King is fond of obscure metaphors that I have to admit: I don’t always understand. The title for example: why is time like “wind through a keyhole,” Mr. King? You’ve also said it’s like a face on the water, and other such things. Time is also “growing thin,” as in a thinny. I appreciate the deliberate vagueness most of the time (this is a strange world that doesn’t always follow the laws of physics), but sometimes, it gets a little annoying.

Grade: A+!

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