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The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger Paperback – May 3, 2016
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
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"An impressive work of mythic magnitude. May turn out to be Stephen King’s greatest literary achievement." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
"A compelling whirlpool of a story that draws one irretrievably to its center." (Milwaukee Sentinel)
"Brilliant, fresh and compelling…will leave you panting for more." (Booklist)
About the Author
Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes Sleeping Beauties (co-written with his son Owen King), End of Watch, the short story collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, Finders Keepers, Mr. Mercedes (an Edgar Award winner for Best Novel and now an AT&T Audience Network original television series), Doctor Sleep, and Under the Dome. His novel 11/22/63—a recent Hulu original television series event—was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers. His epic works The Dark Tower and It are the basis for major motion pictures. He is the recipient of the 2014 National Medal of Arts and the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.
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Psst! (Hey - guys, use real butter (unsalted) or liquid vegetable oil, or mix the two, but NEVER do the margarine trick. Why? Margarine has water whipped into it! That means limp popcorn kernels).
Wizard and Glass serves as a detour -- it allows King to expand more on the gunslinger Roland's background. The book picks up immediately where The Waste Land left off. To recap, the third book of the series ends with a giant cliffhanger: the group of travelers are onboard a suicidal bullet train, and they must stump the train using riddles or else they will die also. So, the first moments of Wizard and Glass are onboard this bullet train and the subsequent game of riddles. It's extremely suspenseful, and very well done. Unfortunately for me though, these early moments were the highlight of the novel -- after the resolution of their predicament, Wizard and Glass slows down considerably. Early on, Roland decides he needs to get a story off of his chest, so he sits down Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy, and tells them about the first and only love of his life: Susan Delgado.
Most of the book is a flashback to this memory. The problem for me is that I'm more interested in the present-time issues of Roland: this story contains very little of the Dark Tower, Eddie (or the rest of the Ka-Tet) in favor for many of the characters that populated Roland's past. The story that makes up most of Wizard and Glass is good, but I just couldn't wait for Roland to move on and continue the search for the Dark Tower. This semi-standalone flashback is well crafted, intense, and it explains a lot of the reasons why Roland is the way Roland is. The style of the narrative though, is very different from what we've been exposed to so far: there's no doors to other dimensions, shifting times, giant mechanical bear-androids, etc... Wizard and Glass is much more reined-in and grounded in traditional fantasy styles.
But what are you reading this review for? If you've made it to the end of The Waste Land, finishing there isn't an option! It's too big a cliffhanger and the story is too good -- you WANT to know what happens in the end. For me, this novel was a detour, and grinds Roland's quest to a near-halt, but this break is a mostly enjoyable one. You won't learn a ton about the Dark Tower or how to get there, but you will enjoy the ride.
A word about the audiobook: the audio recording of Wizard and Glass is narrated by Frank Muller. He does a great job (similar to Roy Dotrice who narrates the Song of Ice and Fire books). The final listening time is about 24-hours long. Because this story is more grounded in a traditional narrative, it might make for a better listen than some of the crazier moments in Drawing of the Three or The Waste Land (where you might have to backtrack to ensure what you're reading is indeed what you believe is going on). There's also a chapter from Book 5: Wolves of the Calla tacked on at the end to serve as a preview for the next installment of the Dark Tower series.
Now, I'm 80% through the second book and it's a complete chore. Read my review of it when I finish and I'll decide if I want to continue the series.