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Wizard and Glass, the fourth episode in King's white-hot Dark Tower series, is a sci-fi/fantasy novel that contains a post-apocalyptic Western love story twice as long. It begins with the series' star, world-weary Roland, and his world-hopping posse (an ex-junkie, a child, a plucky woman in a wheelchair, and a talking dog-like pet named Oy the Bumbler) trapped aboard a runaway train. The train is a psychotic multiple personality that intends to commit suicide with them at 800 m.p.h.--unless Roland and pals can outwit it in a riddling contest.
It's a great race, for the mind and pulse. Movies should be this good. Then comes a 567-page flashback about Roland at age 14. It's a well-marbled but meaty tale. Roland and two teen homies must rescue his first love from the dirty old drooling mayor of a post-apocalyptic cowboy town, thwart a civil war by blowing up oil tanks, and seize an all-seeing crystal ball from Rhea, a vampire witch. The love scenes are startlingly prominent and earthier than most romance novels (they kiss until blood trickles from her lip).
After an epic battle ending in a box canyon to end all box canyons, we're back with grizzled, grown-up Roland and the train-wreck survivors in a parallel world: Kansas in 1986, after a plague. The finale is a weird fantasy takeoff onThe Wizard of Oz. Some readers will feel that the latest novel in King's most ambitious series has too many pages--almost 800--but few will deny it's a page-turner.
backstory with a slow grinding inevitability Having taken months to slog through this book, I struggle to see where the 4-5 star ratings are vindicated.
The first 100 odd pages are extremely good (continuation of the 'front' story). They build on the truly solid work of the first three dark tower books. But after that, we segue into 600 pages of back story about Roland and co. and a peice of pink colored glass. And here is where the story hits the wall.
Slow, like the creep of lead or glass under gravity, characterizes this section perfectly. There is a slow grinding inevitability about the conclusion. There is little suspence and some poor, eye-rolling contrivances to manipulate the story into prequalling the first dark tower book. Frankly, I find that lame. This book feels like it was written to make 7 for the series (good old lucky number 7). The back story could have been cut down by atleast two thirds: 100 pages + 1/3 of 600 +50 at the end = 350. Good! 650 odd pages of tedium ->not good. DOn't get me wrong, I love long books ->It, The Stand, even the Tommyknockers, but this is painful.
The problem with this book is that King is writing fundamentally a love story ->something his books haven't really placed explicitly centerstage before (it is always a very strong theme, but he usually manages it 'en passant', rather than shoving it in your face. This is because he has rich (if ridiculously fun) plots). This book has little plot beyond the typical audie murphy western. It hard to expand the plot of an average western into 600 pages (Lamour books are WAAAY smaller than 600 pages). This book should have been edited far more ruthlessly than it was. So his love story is bloated and overwrought and not that interesting anyway.
Anyway, yes I have read virtually everything Stephen King has written over the years. And yes I regard him as an extremely important author of the past 30+ years and think extremely highly of his work most of the time (ok Insomnia really sucked but it has a cure ->This book!). So consider this reviewed positively biased because of that. Dark tower I, II&III were brilliant. This isn't. You could skip the middle 600 pages and miss virtually nothing. Consider that.
Post apocalyptic Romeo and Juliet. Wizard and Glass has to be the most memorable books in the series which introduces you to Roland's youth and what launches him on his quest for the Dark tower and the man in black. King will introduce you to a few new words and way of speaking. I caught myself using his high speak a couple times during this read, as I'm sure you will as well.
King's Story of a world that has "Moved On" is extremely entertaining. A Post apocalyptic lovers Dream Book! Set in the far off future ware were not shooting at each other with Laser beams but Hard Caliber 6 shooters. Roland is a Gun Slinger, a Law Giver on a quest to find the Dark Tower, a nexus point that holds millions of time lines and worlds in check. Roland's quest will sling shot him back and forth between the present, future, and Past. All of Kings Books tie into this Dark Tower in some way or another. When you finish the Story, your going to want to re-read the Dark Tower series Again,&Again to catch the subtle nuances that tie everything together.Best thus far. This is my favorite of the series thus far. Without wanting to give too much away, this is the book in which you finally learn just exactly why Roland is willing to give up anything and everything (and clearly has) just to get to the Dark Tower. King mentions that the Dark Tower series is sort of like his Middle-Earth, where all of his stories originate in some way from this massive odyssey and world, and you see what he means with this book. Fan's of The Stand will recognize signs of the super flu within the first few hundred pages, and one of my all time favorite King villains comes back to pay his respects.