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A Story Within A Story - Minus A Tower
Dark Tower 4: Wizard and Glass - Stephen King
Member Name: GoFigure
Dark Tower 4: Wizard and Glass - Stephen King
Advantages: Interesting story contained within the 'main' story.
Disadvantages: Long-winded, unnecessary book, coarse language and repetitive dialogue.
Roland and his gang of newbie gunslingers - Eddie, Susannah, Jake and Oy, the gang's mascot - have just managed to make it off Charlie the Choo Choo, the egocentric train with a serious behavioural problem.
Arriving in Topeka, Kansas where the 'Kansas City Royals' [a baseball team] are called the 'Kansas City Monarchs', and where an old newspaper found in the abandoned train station claims that everyone is dying from 'Captain Trips Superflu', Roland and pals decide to give the city a miss and head for the I-70 Turnpike, which, the team notice as they peer into the distance, seems to lead to an enormous glass tower.
Although there appear to be no survivors, that's not to say that nothing 'lives' in this strange part of Kansas that isn't really the Kansas of 'our' world - the deafening sound of a 'thinny' can be heard, a sound powerful enough to drive you insane. In this part of Kansas the wall separating dimensions has been worn thin, and the 'thinny' has come to feast on the remains of the dead.
As the gang stop for the night after a long day spent walking on the I-70 with bullets stuck in their ears to keep the sound of the 'thinny' at bay, Roland decides the time has come to tell his friends about his past...
'Wizard and Glass', book IV of the Dark Tower series, isn't about the Tower, or even about Roland's journey towards it - this book is a book within a book, a story within a story. The main story, which is about Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake and Oy's journey towards the Dark Tower takes up approximately 200 pages of a book that totals 840 pages... meaning that the bulk of the story, which is about Roland and Susan, the love of his life, and the glorious summer they spent together just before Roland turned 15, is lengthy enough to make you forget all about the Dark Tower itself.
Up until book IV, the journey towards the Dark Tower had been an intriguing and mysterious one - a journey filled with strange creatures, incredible twists and turns, and a storyline so incredibly imaginative that the superb writing that accompanied it was mesmerising... the type of book called a page-turner, one you just can't put down... unfortunately, Stephen King chose this particular book as a 'rest stop', and Roland's past, as interesting as it is, becomes the main focus and the Dark Tower is relegated to the background with Eddie, Susannah, Jake and Oy. The end result is that the reader feels as though they have just taken a wrong turn somewhere in 'The Twilight Zone'.
It was around page 400 that I discovered that I couldn't remember where Eddie, Susannah, Oy and 'old' Roland were in the original story - the story I 'really' wanted to be reading - and I was growing steadily bored of 'young' Roland and Susan, although Rhea the wicked witch was starting to grow on me in a sinister sort of way.
I wanted to be reading about the Dark Tower - I wanted the gang to be heading towards it, not stalling as Roland's past took over. As likeable as Susan and Roland's friends Cuthbert and Alain were, the story simply didn't hold my interest, and it took me nearly two weeks to finish the book... at one point, towards page 700, I fell asleep four times in the middle of Stephen King's lengthy descriptions of a particular sunset, field or nefarious-looking moon. I just couldn't get over the feeling that this book was a total waste of my time. Although my stepson has assured me that parts of it will pop up in the next three books, and that everything will eventually make sense... I still have my doubts.
Personally, I feel that Stephen King could have left this book out... in fact, I wish he had. It brought absolutely nothing to the 'main' story, nothing, that is, that couldn't have been summarised on a page or two within the book as the gang steadily made their way towards the Tower while living incredible adventures [as a team] along the way, and being placed in life or death situations... much as the first three books were written.
Although book IV is part of the 'Dark Tower' series, I don't consider it to be integral to the 'main' story, and therefore cannot find it in me to give it more than a 2-star rating.
Book IV made me forget what the 'real' story was about, it put me to sleep more often than not, and I found myself skimming through pages in an effort to end my agony.
Summary: Roland and the gang pause in their journey in order to focus on Roland's past.