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Roland of Gilead ain't afraid of Wolves
Dark Tower 5: Wolves of the Calla - Stephen King
Member Name: dawnymarie
Dark Tower 5: Wolves of the Calla - Stephen King
Date: 22/12/12, updated on 24/12/12 (143 review reads)
Advantages: Continue on this infectious journey
Why read this one?....
This is book 5 of Stephen King's epic and in my opinion, masterpiece, which is The Dark Tower. These books make up one full tale which follows the challenging journey of Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger. As I had read the previous books in this series I was hungry for more, though as I near the end I am attempting to slow down my reading pace as I don't want it to end - this is difficult as the story urges you to read faster and faster. The cover depicts the now familiar image of the tower and the premise is, as ever, intriguing. I have no choice but to read this one - King has me captivated.
There is something that is very wrong in the small, western style, town named Calla Bryn Sturgis. Very wrong. It is coming to the time that the town folk fear and dread but feel powerless to do anything about, the time of the wolves. From the hellish pit, known as Thunderclap, they will come. Fast and furious they will ride on grey steeds. Dressed in hooded, green, cloaks and wearing masks they come and take the children. One of each twin, of which there are many, will be snatched from the arms of his/her parents and after weeks away they will be returned as roonts - gone are the sparkling personalities and any sign of intelligence - these children are now an empty shell. The time to farm the children is announced by Andy. Andy is a robot. The town's only robot. The children love Andy and Andy does like to tell a good tale. Tian Jaffords has had enough; he wants the town to make a stand against these wolves. It is time to save the children and themselves from this horrific reap and when news of gunslingers passing close by reaches Tian his mind is made up. He will approach these dangerous travellers and they will help....will they? Does Roland's plan to reach the Tower afford a pit stop to save a town from wolves? And what is in it for him if it does?
All is never as it seems....
The Ka Tet (group with the same destiny) is camped out on the path of the beam. Roland is aware that they are being at the very least 'observed'. He is ready when they are ready to approach him - he knows these kind and they always want help. Once asked for help it is a gunslingers duty to provide it without reward. So let them ask if they dare.
This one begins differently. I was surprised to be in the company of a very new character and in a new location. Calla Bryn Sturgis is a small town. One of those places where everyone knows all about everyone else - or do they? They have no reason to doubt. I was a bit wrong footed by this new phenomenon of meeting strangers and wondered when I would be reunited with my small group of gunslingers. I was getting impatient. But something special happened as I continued to read, taking in the snippets of the environment and location, getting to know this man Tian and his wife and their children. It felt refreshing after a while and I was comfortable and even cosy with this set up. I was baffled by Tian's sister who appeared to have something wrong with her and be abnormally strong - indeed she was pulling a plough for him in a stone littered plot! I had to question the ethics of this young man on that activity, though later was to discover what had happened to her.
I was soon to be introduced to a variety of town folk, one struck me straight away and he was called Callahan. Callahan is a strong character and one that I couldn't ignore, he wasn't a wallflower and I didn't cast him aside as I did the rest. I knew the big farmers would play some part as they were stroppy and big mouthed men - used to getting their own way in this small town - but they failed to stick in my mind as Callahan had done. Callahan is a holy man but he has guts so I was immediately intrigued by him and knew he would figure strongly in the prose.
Finally I get to spend a short time with my little Ka Tet. Not much going on as they continue on the path and into the next challenge. There is always a quiet spell before a storm, they know that and I know that so I enjoy the quiet time with them whilst I can. These rare times offer an opportunity to 'be' with these characters that are developing all the time. They feel like real people to me now and as usual Roland is the one I care about the most. I find out that he is ailing and that causes me concern - the ravages of age are telling on him and I fear that he may soon lose the lightning speed that he has always had. Eddie is not just changing in appearance but also his nature and skill - he and Jake are improving all the time. Jake has a growing ability to know the minds of others and communicate via his mind to the Ka Tet - a fabulous talent. Oy the adorable Billy Bumbler (not sure if King intended him to be adorable but that is how I find him) is as ever fun to be around and a constant concern as I don't want him hurt. Then we get to Susannah. I like this woman who is the lady of shadows. She came to the Ka Tet as two women Odetta and Detta and from them came one consistent woman who is Susannah. They are always in the background but agree with Susannah having prominence. This may sound confusing but the way King presents her it makes sense. Susannah is pregnant but with this pregnancy comes another and she is named Mia (mother). The child is not human and cares nothing for the body that carries him - conceived whilst being raped by a demon to allow Jake into the world - this little fella is certainly not likely to be cute. This concept bothers me and King has done a good job in getting me to be bothered - this birth could be dangerous in more than one way - Susannah needs to be watched.
I was not surprised that the Ka Tet would take on the job of tackling the sixty or more wolves who would be riding into the small town within weeks. And it was interesting to see new relationships formed and the intricate plan that Roland sets in place to exterminate the wolves. But this soon became a plot that was running alongside other plots and some of the other plots had more significance and prominence for the gunslingers and for me. For example the discovery of the black thirteen! This is the most powerful and evil of the glass balls - capable of sending a man into a black hole of nothingness for eternity. You don't mess with this ball. This ball watches - it belongs to a very powerful entity/man/creature. Go near that ball and it will draw you in, speak to you, and encourage you to do that which you know to be wrong - very wrong. The ball is wrong. A trip back to New York via the ball (called todash) is bestowed on Eddie and Jake whilst they sleep - the experience that they had back there left them in very little doubt that the rose back in New York, the delicate rose which must be protected no matter what - that has something to do with the Tower, was in great danger. They had to get back to New York. They had to protect that rose no matter what. This was more important than the wolves coming or the black ball - if that rose dies I don't know what happens to the Tower but it must be pretty bad.
The Tower is fascinating me. Absolutely fascinating. I am guessing all the time what it means, where it will be, who will be in it. If there is a top floor is it empty - I hope not if my theory is anywhere near right and I cannot wait for all to be revealed. When King was writing the series he himself didn't know if Roland would even reach it - I hope that he does. I know that one of them will. Each book that I read I gain a little more about the tower and what it can do, what its purpose is. I am some way off knowing for sure and I am not about to spoil anything for anyone here - I will just say that it reminds me of a kaleidoscope or a Russian doll. It is a thought provoking and incredible concept.
It would not surprise you to know that the Ka Tet and I are suspicious of any machinery. After the pain that was Blaine the train it is understandable. Andy the robot is helpful beyond measure but can be evasive if the wrong questions are posed. I don't trust him and am glad that the gunslingers don't either. King is clever as he creates a pied piper type image as the children follow Andy singing a cheery song - they love him. Question is does he even like them?
There are so many concepts and themes in this one that initially I wondered if I would keep up. Some of the most in depth material is Callahan's past. I had no need to worry as keeping up was easy, after all King keeps to the story and all is on a need to know basis with him. Callahan's past is absolutely relevant and captivating. Within one book I feel I have got to know this man inside and out - his character is so rounded it is an amazing achievement. Whilst journeying through his past things about the Tower and past experiences that Jake and Eddie have had in New York begin to make even more sense. I found myself revisiting the previous books and realising how things in those were now showing their importance and somehow it felt like pieces of a large puzzle falling into place, though I get the feeling those same pieces have many more hands to show before fitting snug.
One thing that stands out in King's work on the Dark Tower series and particularly within the pages of this book is his perception and observation of human nature - it is absolutely spot on. I could understand why Eddie, who would have given anything to get back to 'his' New York at one time, wants to remain in Roland's world of the unknown, a world of suffering and the one that provides a path of riddles as they make their way to the Tower. Like Roland, Eddie now puts the Tower first - he understands that it must be reached in order to save many lives.
The concept of nineteen and ninety nine - formerly a complete and random mystery - is making much more sense and I am excited by what the significance of this will be.
This is a big book and I feel that I have learned much but then realise that I have the finale to the problem that is 'the wolves' - who and what are they, what do they want with the twin children? Can they be defeated and at what cost? Either way there is going to be some killing and it will be fast - it has to be. And what of Susannah/Mia who carry a little chap? What the heck has King come up with on that score?
The finale is well worth the wait and is spectacular. Awesome. And in parts emotive but King didn't get my tears flowing with this one - as with the last two. Not a bad thing, just an observation. After The Wizard and the Glass I wondered if King could continue on such fine form - he does, it's a different kind of read but it delivers all the same. Beautiful tale telling from a master of the craft. I am fully satisfied and eager to get to 'Songs of Susannah' which is book six.
Sourcing and cost....
www.bookbutler.co.uk will provide a competitive list of sellers for you, both used and new with postage.
Amazon.co.uk have it at £5.99 at time of writing and you can purchase a variety of copies at varying prices on Amazon.co.uk
If you have already enjoyed the previous four books then you will be eager to continue with Roland of Gilead, son of Steven, the last gunslinger. You will have journeyed through tough terrain already with our hero and no doubt be bonded with him and his Ka Tet. Here you will be turning the pages fast and especially towards the end as you are desperate to discover the outcome of the meeting with the wolves. Bit by bit you will be empowered with precious knowledge about previous happenings and riddles, places in New York and of course the illusive Tower - this book provides much to think over in that regard and is most satisfying. As well as those tasty morsels you will meet and get to know Callahan - his story is captivating and I have grown to like him. There is so much to this one you may wonder if it will overwhelm you - I found it superbly crafted and it did not confuse me at all - I didn't have to reread any sections. The outcome of this one is perfect and satisfying but...King still holds the carrot out in front of me - the Tower, I need to find the Tower! I highly recommend and hope that you enjoy as I did.
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