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The Wind Through the Keyhole: A Dark Tower Novel - Stephen King
Member Name: dawnymarie
The Wind Through the Keyhole: A Dark Tower Novel - Stephen King
Date: 10/11/12, updated on 12/11/12 (125 review reads)
Advantages: Creative story telling ... a tale within a tale
Why read this one....
King wrote this novel after he had finished the whole Dark Tower series. He was delighted to discover that the characters had more to say and feels that this prose sits snug between book 4 The Wizard and the glass and book 5 The Wolves of Calla. However, he believes that this one could be read without having gained insight from the previous 4 novels. This alone intrigued me and I wavered for a few days before picking it up as I didn't know whether I could believe that this wouldn't contain any spoilers for the novels to come. I re read King's statement and decided that the man wouldn't mislead his fans or newcomers to his epic saga. The cover of the book is bold and catches the eye and the blurb is appealing. I was happy to read this one as book number 4.5 in the Dark Tower series as King advises...well it is his creation so that is good enough for me.
Where to start....where to begin. I feel the best way to describe this prose is to get you to think of a Russian doll - you know the kind that hold one smaller doll inside and so on. That is what this prose reminds me of. During a starkblast (icy destructive storm) Roland, the last gunslinger, agrees to tell a tale to pass the time. This tale will take us back in time to just after the death of Roland's mother when he was a youth. He was a youth but no ordinary youth....he was a gunslinger, a new knight and protector of the innocent. He carried two large, wooden handled guns (not the biggest as they were yet to come) which announced his status. He and a companion, Jamie, are sent to Debaria on a mission to rid the town from a supernatural being - a being so strong that it can tear a human to strips with one slash of it claws - this will not be easy as this being is a shape shifter and may well be walking the streets among the town folk by day as ordinary as any other...then by night, he changes and is not capable of mercy. The outcome of this mission will rest on the shoulders of a frightened young boy who was recently orphaned after his pa was attacked by the beast. Whilst plotting the capture of the shape shifter Roland tells a tale to the boy to help take his mind off the horrific situation. The tale is very dear to Roland and brings fond memories of his dear mother, as she told it to him when he was a boy, the tale was about a young boy named Tim and it was called 'The wind in the Keyhole'. We will meet a familiar character, Walter Broadcloack, during the telling of this tale...back in the days when he collected taxes and threw people out onto the land..homeless. Seeing an opportunity to wreak havoc Walter arranges a meeting with a bereaved Tim. He provides him with a key and insight that will lead to something the boy dearly wants. Those who have met Walter before will know that nothing is what it seems with him ... but Tim wants what he can offer and follows his intuition. At eleven years old Tim will face terrors that adults would avoid with tenacity. Tim will change. Time will change. Things will change. For the better? One can only hope and pray that they are for the better in this ever changing world within worlds......
Start at the beginning and be prepared to be enthralled...
I was excited to read this prose in part because it was the latest release and because I knew I was getting insight that was not available to readers of the epic saga some years ago - I felt privileged. As I have already read the first four books I recognised the characters and soon felt right at home but I put myself in the position of a new reader to the journey who may read this book as a standalone and in my opinion I think it works well...King writes in such a way that you cannot help but be drawn in and want to know more...much more. I wouldn't be surprised if new readers go on to read the whole saga after this tale, within a tale, within a tale. The beginning of the book settles the reader with Roland and his Ka tet (group who share the same destiny) Eddie, Susannah, Jake and the billy bumbler (part racoon, part dog with gorgeous golden rings around his eyes) Oy. They are on the path of the beam which is guiding them through a variety of perils to the Dark Tower. King holds this tower in front of me like a carrot that is placed before a donkey and I am intrigued so much I cannot help but follow....what is so special about that tower? I have my theories which are all most likely wrong - that is what keeps me reading, among a myriad of other reasons. The Ka tet will soon speed up their ambling pace when Oy alerts them to a starkblast that is hurtling in their direction. What a fascinating concept a starkblast is and what a word! You don't survive a starkblast if you stand in its way....the pace quickens early in the prose as they frantically hunt for cover and the means to ensure they stay warm. Some emotive scenes grip me during this part of the prose and as per usual I am on tenterhooks as I wait to see if all the Ka tet is safe....Roland in particular. King touches all senses in these opening chapters and the scene is set for some tale telling. I was not sure what I thought about this structure before reading book 4 The Wizard and the glass....no need to wonder now as King does an impeccable job.
I was happy to return to Roland's younger days, I am captivated by his history and enjoy any insight into what made Roland into the man that he is now. I knew there were scars besides those on his physical body - there is a lot to learn about this complex and haunted man. If I were a new reader to the tale I know that I would find both Rolands (young and older) intriguing, King has created a protagonist who gets inside you and works his way into your heart - I care about him and the more I discover about this keeper of the law, this knight that descended from King Arthur's blood line, the more I want to know. I never tire of the overlapping of time and worlds - things in Mid World (Roland's world) that the 'old people' left behind are what I recognise as the now from our time and place...so we are what he considers the 'old people'. It isn't confusing as you may think it would be, I find it really thought provoking and fascinating. The mix of western type cowboys with mysticism and magic of 'The Hobbit' style is brilliant. Odd times there is an element of wisdom in this book, as well as the others I have read in this series, I find myself learning a lesson as you may do in a fable. There is use of riddles too and King is able to highlight the different ways that people process information - I don't think in the simple way that you need to do for riddles, I over think and make the obvious hidden. This prose holds much more than a mere tale or two and I think a second reading will reveal more to me that I may have missed first time around as I raced through the pages eagerly wanting to find out what happens to the young boys who are suffering within the pages.
In the tale of the skin man (shape shifter) I meet a variety of personalities and prejudices. There is a feeling of getting to know human nature and the mix of folk make this tale colourful and engaging. Of course the fact that there is a terrifying shifter on the rampage is reason enough for me to keep turning those pages - an interesting concept that I have come across before but not like this one ... this one is just plain evil even down to the depraved sexual nature that it displays...I found it most horrible and wanted it stopped. Help will come in many forms for Roland and Jamie, some I am wary of immediately and others I just can't make up my mind...I didn't trust any with the exception of a young boy name Bill. Initially, I had to wonder if he was the shifter too...was he? Everyone was suspected by me at one point and as the heat intensified I had a surprise right up till the revelation ... sheer genius writing. King sticks to the story and he keeps going and going, he will give you a little bit more as if teasing. This part of the Russian doll tale was immaculate, creative concept with a flawless plot. Highly satisfying.
Tim. Tim is a young boy, eleven, and his dad is believed to have been burned to ash by a dragon in the iron wood where he was a woodsman. Walter Broadcloak was due soon and his mamma feared the worst with no man bringing in money. Bern Kells steps in and offers marriage - I don't like him one bit! He was Big Ross's best friend till he was charred by the dragon...was he killed by a dragon?? Really? Kell's is shifty and unpredictable especially when drunk, King gets me to wince when he appears in the text and I am saddened when Tim's mamma agrees to be wed. That very night Tim lays witness to the sounds of Kells hitting his mamma in the room next to his. It begins. I felt so disappointed at this point as I didn't want the marriage to take place and not long after Walter appears on his black steed to stir trouble. I never know what to make of Walter, I know he enjoys witnessing suffering and it is clear that he likes to create it but I also see a slight glimmer of helpfulness if you are strong enough and brave enough to attain it - not many have the courage to do his bidding. Tim will be offered hope by Walter, his stepdad watches the discussion with malice, a key is handed to Tim and that will only be the beginning of something tragically beautiful. Why describe it as both? Tragic because of the chaos and suffering that the tiny key will unleash. Beautiful because the plot and journey are spectacular and enchanting in parts, and if Tim can summon up the courage that is needed for his massive quest into the unknown then the outcome has the capacity to be utterly spellbinding and hence I would describe it as beautiful. This part of the Russian doll tale was immensely satisfying and ticks all the boxes of a good story as told by a master of the craft...who better than King. A rollercoaster of emotions and all senses activated...I could not put the book down! Brilliant.
When back to present Roland time I am satisfied with the ending of the shorter tale that it encompasses and breathe out a sigh of contentment before tears sting my eyes as I read the words that Roland was left in a letter from his mother...Gabrielle Deschain...many years ago. That is the second time that King has reduced me to tears!
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If you are a new comer to this saga then I would agree with King that you can enjoy this as a standalone book. If you are familiar with the series then the book naturally sits at 4.5 between The Wizard and the glass and The wolves of Calla. Or you can read it when you have read all of the novels in this epic tale. What you get is greater insight into the workings of Roland Deschain - the last gunslinger from Mid World. This complex man has been through much and at times can appear machine like but if you get to know him better you realise that he has loved and lost - he has a heart. This book comprises of three tales, the present time story is the shortest of the three but this works well as it is all you need and with King that is how he works - he sticks to the story. The tales held within are magnificent in concept, plot, themes and observations of human nature. The western crossover with our world artefacts and magic are perfection - King has excelled in my opinion and left me totally satisfied and eager to continue with the next novel, which is Wolves of Calla. There were no spoilers that I noted. A masterful piece of work that flowed seamlessly and held me captive.
Published on Ciao
Summary: Russian Doll of a novel that impresses