Book Review: The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass by Stephen King

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Ah, the wonderful world of Stephen King. A place where overt description is blended with the macabre and unsettling.

While this is readily apparent in a number of King’s classic horror novels, the same could be said for the popular Dark Tower franchise, which not only spawned 8 books, but countless graphic novels, as well as an upcoming feature-length film adaptation slated for a summer release.

While Stephen King can’t officially coin the phrase “multiverse”, he is surely one of the great novelists to have successfully blended elements of his novels together, creating his own multiverse within his novels. And barreling right down the center like Blaine the Monorail on the Path of the Beam, is The Dark Tower.

Wizard and Glass is the 4th entry in The Dark Tower franchise, and does a heck of a lot in its 1,000 pages by simply going back to the beginning; to where it all started for one 14-year old Roland Deschain.

It’s a Roland Deschain like we’ve never seen him before. He’s young, he’s naive – albeit still tough-as-nails and stubborn as his older self – but his biggest drawback is that he cares too deeply for a woman named Susan Delgado, his first and only true love on his perilous journey to find The Dark Tower.

Because Wizard and Glass is told as a “story within a story”, we do jump back to the present day at different points in time. Mind you, our present day ka-tet has just defeated Blaine the Mono and his quick reflex riddle game, but their journey is not yet complete.

Coming back to the central plot: we find there’s trouble afoot when Roland and his past life ka-tet: Cuthbert Allgood and Alain Johns, stumble upon a strange plot by a group of rebels (queue the Star Wars jokes) who are stealing supplies from the town of Mejis…but it appears everyone in the town is somehow involved in the scheme.

Then comes the realization that Roland and Susan’s love affair is set up for a sinister end.

Round it out with a mysterious old woman and a crystal ball that can see not only far into the future, but pretty much everything (like seriously, EVERYTHING), and you’ve got a twisted fantasy-western all too familiar to our Dark Tower audience.

Readers may be taken aback when they realize that roughly 85 to 90 per cent of the story is told during Roland’s teen years and adventure in Mejis with Susan, but I think it’s necessary to really delve into the facet of Roland’s character.

Up until now, we’ve come to understand that bad stuff has happened to Roland in the past. He’s done a good enough job explaining why he’s lived such a tough life up until now…but with Wizard and Glass, we finally get some answers. And it hurts…it stings, it’s not a very happy ending but again, what do you expect from our favourite gunslinger?

We begin to understand where his burning desire to find the Dark Tower stems from, and how making sacrifices in his own life in order to commit to his mission begins to hurt the people around him, even his true love.

It’s a truly devastating tale, but an all too necessary one that needed to be told. Coupled with the present day story that borrows heavily from The Wizard of Oz, Stephen King ties together elements we didn’t even realize existed into a very compelling tale of love, loss and the perilous journey toward The Dark Tower.

Final Verdict: RECOMMEND

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