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Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower, Book 6) Hardcover – June 8, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
There's something about a crippled, black, schizophrenic, civil rights activist-turned-gunslinger whose body has been hijacked by a white, pregnant demon from a parallel world that keeps a seven-volume story bracingly strong as it veers toward its Armageddon-like conclusion. When Susannah Dean is transported via a magic door on the outskirts of Calla Bryn Sturgis (the scene of much of The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla) to New York City in the summer of 1999, the "demon-mother" who possesses her, Mia, has only one thing on her mind. She must give birth to her "chap" at a predetermined location in Manhattan's East 60s, as instructed by the henchmen-or "Low Men"-of the evil Crimson King. Pressed for time, Father Callahan, preteen Jake and talking pet "billy-bumbler" Oy follow Susannah and Mia's trail in an effort to prevent an act that would quicken the destruction of the Dark Tower and, in turn, of all worlds. Meanwhile, gunslingers Roland and Eddie travel to 1977 Maine in search of bookstore owner Calvin Tower, who is being hunted down by mobster Enrico Balazar and his gang, who first appeared in Eddie's version of New York in The Drawing of the Three Avid readers of the series will either be completely enthralled or extremely irritated when, in a gutsy move, the author weaves his own character into this unpredictable saga, but either way there's no denying the ingenuity with which King paints a candid picture of himself. The sixth installment of this magnum opus stops short with the biggest cliffhanger of King's career, but readers at the edge of their seats need only wait a few short months (Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower) to find out how-and if-King's fictional universe will come to an end. 10 full-color illus. not seen by PW.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
King's epical Dark Tower hastens to a close, and its penultimate volume is one of the speediest. The gunslingers of Mid-World and other alternate Earths have defeated The Wolves of the Calla (2003) but lost one of their number. Susannah Dean, nee Odetta Holmes, lacking her lower legs after a minion of the Satan of Mid-World, the Crimson King, pushed her in front of a subway train, and whose personality is sometimes split between black bourgeoise Odetta and viciously paranoiac Detta Walker, has been taken over by the spirit Mia to be the body in which Mia will gestate a boy who will eventually kill head gunslinger Roland. The child is to be born in New York in 1999, which is where Susannah-Mia repairs through one of the doors between worlds. The other gunslingers pursue through the same door, but only 11-year-old Jake Chambers, accompanied by former 'Salems' Lot priest Don Callahan, get to New York. Roland and Susannah's husband, Eddie Dean, tumble into an ambush in New England in 1977. Each chapter--called a stanza and ending with two songlike quatrains--advances one subset of gunslingers' progress. King keeps us on tenterhooks throughout--and leaves us there. Before quite departing, he tacks on a clever coda about the gradual creation of the Dark Tower--but in which world? The series concludes with The Dark Tower in September. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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There are several reasons. For one thing, King picks up right where the last book, Wolves of the Calla, left off, with Roland’s companion Susannah partially possessed by Mia, a former demon determined to have her baby in Susannah’s body. And unlike some of the earlier subplots in the series, this one ties directly to the main story: Mia’s child will be no ordinary boy—he’s foretold to be Roland’s doom and the Breaker of the last Beams supporting the multiverse. Upping the urgency even more, one of those Beams fails early in Song of Susannah. In short, the stakes are high and the story gripping.
Until King enters the story. Literally—as a character.
This threw me at first. Earlier books in the series have referenced some of King’s other works, most notably The Stand and Salem’s Lot. And some of the characters were starting to realize that they might be characters, fictional constructs rather than actual people. But in Song of Susannah, King is one of those constructs.
It’s easy to see this as indulgent. Every character an author creates contains a bit of that author, but explicitly writing yourself into your self-proclaimed “Ur Story” like this is only a character sheet and a twenty-sided die away from roleplaying. And Song of Susannah isn’t a tongue-and-cheek take on self-aware literature like Redshirts. The Dark Tower series takes itself pretty seriously (well, as seriously as a series with “lobstrosities” can). It’s an epic tale that didn’t start with any indication that it would feature such a device.
I also balked out how King’s inclusion of himself took me out of the story. The best books allow you to get lost in them; they’re not just words on a page—they’re experiences. But when the author appears on the page, you’re forced to acknowledge that you’re reading something he/she wrote, and it destroys the illusion.
So given those reservations, why did I still like Song of Susannah? Because as I went further, King pulled me back in by making himself a believable character. He doesn’t shrink from his brushes with alcoholism and drug use. He’s not a hero: he’s a person, flawed but trying. And I’m okay with that.
I’m also excited to read the final book in the series. I wasn’t sure that would be the case when I set out on this journey with Roland and (later) his band of gunslingers, but if nothing else, Song of Susannah suggests the Dark Tower will finish strong.
Highly Recommended!!!!!!! Too bad I could not give 10 stars.
#1 The Gunslinger - Introduction to the last Gunslinger, Roland. This book was wonderful. It introduces you to some of the characters of the series and gives you the Gunslinger's quest.
#2 - The Drawing of the Three - Roland pulls future Gunslingers, Jake, Eddie, and Suzannah from our world over to his. I really enjoyed how this was done. The characters are very likeable (especially OY)
#3 - The Wastelands - The Gunslingers make continue on their way. Blaine really is a pain.
#4 - Wizard and Glass - Roland tells them the story of Susan, The girl at the window. A very sad thing that happened to him in childhood. A beautiful story.
#5 - Wolves of the Calla - The gunslingers help a town that is about to have their children taken. Jake makes a friend his own age. A character from another King book is met. This book was well put together.
#6 - Song of Suzannah - This one tells of something that Suzannah is going through.
#7 - The Dark Tower - The quest is finally over. The tower is reached. But who will make it there? Believe it or not this book made me cry.
#* - The Wind Through the Keyhole - This story takes place between some of the other books. It is Roland and his gang taking refuge from a storm and Roland telling stories to pass the time. The stories are beautifully written.
All of the stories in this series are exceptional. I love how they flow together. It really does seem like one continuous book.
Speed/pace. Everything moves along at a nice clip
Characters development. We see the rest of the Ka-tet (particularly Eddie and Susannah) come into the light more, as well as secondary/tertiary characters like Mia and Calvin Tower
Action. One of the best set pieces in maybe the whole series, when Eddie and Roland take on the ambush at the general store.
Ending. This is the only con and I will not spoiler it, but if you were frustrated by the end of The Waste Lands (I was not) then this will enrage you. Unfortunately this simply does not have an ending. It is not a cliffhanger, there is simply no resolution to the story. Very very frustrating, especially when if this is the penultimate book that means the first part of the next (and final) book will be about cleaning up the end of Song and not the conclusion of the Tower.
All in all a great brisk read. The pace is frenetic and you can feel the shattered Ka-Tet moving towards their individual goals at a breathtaking speed. I'm very eager to see how King concludes his magnum opus.
This is a tough one to rate. Mostly because I think overall this was my least favorite book in the series thus far (which shouldn't have come as that much of a surprise to me because Susannah is certainly my least favorite character). However it also contained some of my absolute favorite parts of the series. For example I would rate Roland and Eddie's plot line a firm five stars, but Susannah's only two. And I absolutely loved what Stephen did with the ending. He's clever this King guy.