08 June, 2011

Review - The Waste Lands (Dark Tower III) by Stephen King

Another stunning installment in the Dark Tower series, The Waste Lands [US] [UK] brings our quest for the dark tower that much closer, and actually giving it plenty of momentum which is, I'm told, possibly to be dashed in further installments.

Where The Gunslinger was a correlating collection of stories and The Drawing of the Three brings the main characters together, The Waste Lands actually moves the quest forward, gives some background (not a ton mind you), and gives us some direction.

I'm really enjoying this series and I'm starting to realize why. Besides the fact that I am glued to the pages for hours at a time, I really like the idea of this mysterious world giving guidance to the Gunslinger and his band. Instead of opting for the prophecy motif, King's world is much more mysterious and less traditional.

***Beware spoilers for the The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three***

Our crew of gunslingers, or Ka-tet as we find out they are called because they are a group of people on the same mission whose fates are intertwined, begin this part of the journey in the middle of their training as gunslingers. They are the last of their kind and therefore, Eddie, Susannah Dean, and Roland are the only gunslingers in the entire world.

Because Roland saved Jake (the kid at the waystation in The Gunstlinger) from Jack Mort in The Drawing of the Three, his memory has now split in two because Jake's death was his entry into Roland's world. This is making Roland a bit crazy at the moment.

They are almost immediately attacked by a malicious and ravenous bear, Shardik, who we find out is actually a Guardian of one of the entrances to the 6 mystical beams that will lead to the dark tower. Oh, and did I mention Shardik is also a cyborg? Yeah, this just gets crazier and crazier.

The ka-tet follow the beam to Mid-world where more adventure is to be had, but not before picking up another member.

I had always thought they were in Mid-world when they weren't in "our" present day world, but I guess I'd read too much going into this. In The Waste Lands, there's actually a point where the ka-tet goes into Mid-world.

At this same time, but beginning in Book 2 of The Waste Lands, we also begin to follow Jake in "our" world. He's having the same problems as Roland and his mind is also warring with itself. While trying to make it in a high-pressured prep school, Jake is about to give up. Not only is Jake going insane, but it is almost as if he is reliving certain occurrences. This leads him on his own journey and I'll leave it at that before I get too spoilerific.

***End major spoilers***

I know Stephen King is known for his horror, but I haven't felt much of that influence really until this book. Toward the end, I was actually dreadfully frightened and I loved it.

Why Read The Waste Lands?

When I really think of it, I can't believe the entire plot can be summed up so simply; a gunslinger is after a dark tower. And I guess only Stephen King can make something so simple so amazingly addicting.

I can't wait to get on with the series. It's unique and well-crafted. You can't help but care for these characters even though it sometimes seems like Stephen King doesn't. You will be glued to the page, it's just a fact.

4.5 out of 5 Stars (Absolutely loved it!)

EDIT: I always remember and then subsequently forget to do this: :D


RaveAir said...

I totally agree with you, but the next book will be better.

Unfortunatelly from the 5th book something will break the quality of the series, and you will face to a very tiresome 6th book.

I just finished the 7th book yesterday, and I have to tell I very enjoyed it. It was far much better than the previous one... But the ending... The ending is really intesting.

Anonymous said...

This was my favorite in the series. Some love 4 but IMO it's all downhill after 3.

Ryan said...

Nice review Seak. I loved Shardik the cyborg bear. Between Shardik and the lobstrosities, King created two of my all time favorite fantastical creatures/beasts.

The scene where they draw Jake over to mid-world, and the house tries to swallow him up, is one of the greatest horror scenes that I've ever read.

I agree that this book gives the reader the sense that the series is gaining momentum, which was a big reason why I was initially disappointed with the next book Wizard and Glass, but looking back on it now, it is one of my favorite in the series.

Bryce L. said...

@RaveAir - Glad to hear, I'm thinking I'll like the next book too. I'm really curious about Roland's past and I think knowing that it's just one big flashback going into it is huge.

Looking forward to that ending everyone keeps talking about. Love or hate seems like.

@Anon. - Good to hear. I'm definitely a bit nervous about the rest.

@Ryan - Thanks man! Shardik and the lobstrosities are just insane. Only King could think of crazy stuff like that.

The scene with Jake being drawn over was amazing and I was also thinking of Blaine. I still love the idea of (spoilers ahead) the kids on the train who seem happy, but then upon looking closer actually look horrified. So creepy.

Ryan said...

Yeah, Blaine is great too. Only King could make a train be a creepy sociopath.

Mark Lawrence said...

it's an excellent book - I think the next book has the big flashback to Roland's youth, which was the best bit of the series for me. He's a great writer.

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