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Wolves of the Calla (Dark Tower) Hardcover – November 4, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
"Time is a face on the water," stretching and contorting reality as gunslingers Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake and their talking pet "billy-bumbler" Oy continue their quest to prevent the destruction of the Dark Tower and, consequently, save all worlds from Chaos and the Crimson King's evil, red-eyed glare. Roland-the primary hero of King's epic tale, the first volume of which appeared in 1982-and company momentarily fall off the "Path of The Beam" to help the residents of Calla Bryn Sturgis, a farm town. But as Dark Tower fans know, everything follows The Beam, so what looks like a detour may really serve the will of "ka" (destiny). Roland and his posse learn that every 20-odd years the "Wolves" kidnap one child from each set of the Calla's twins, bring them to the Tower and, weeks later, send them back mentally and physically impaired. Meanwhile, back in 1977 New York City (the alternate world of Roland's surrogate son, Jake), bookstore owner Calvin Tower is being threatened by a group of thugs (readers will recognize them from The Drawing of the Three, 1987) to sell them a vacant lot in midtown Manhattan. In the lot stands a rose, or rather the Rose, which is our world's manifestation of the Dark Tower. With the help of the Old Fella (also known to `Salem's Lot readers as Father Callahan), the gunslingers must devise a plan against evil in both worlds. The task, however, is further complicated as Roland and his gang start noticing behavioral changes in wheelchair-bound, recovered schizophrenic Susannah.As the players near the Tower, readers will keep finding exciting ties between the Dark Tower universe and King's other books, with links to Black House, Insomnia, The Eyes of the Dragon, The Stand, `Salem's Lot and Hearts in Atlantis. The high suspense and extensive character development here (especially concerning Jake's coming-of-age), plus the enormity of King's ever-expanding universe, will surely keep his "Constant Readers" in awe.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Wizard and Glass (1997), volume 4 of King's massive, postapocalyptic, chivalrized western, The Dark Tower, was rather a snooze, not for lack of action but because it was primarily a flashback that drew unmercifully on King's stash of horse-opera cliches. "'S'all very nice," one thought, "but let's move it, Steve!" Volume 5--this book--moves it, despite not getting Roland the Gunslinger much nearer the Dark Tower, taking another big backward glance, and continuing to mine an open pit of oater conceits. Roland's ka-tet--himself and three twentieth-century New Yorkers, all of them now fellow gunslingers--approach a ranching and farming community anticipating a recurrent pestilence. After 23 years, the Wolves are coming from the evil-darkened East to abduct one of every pair of prepubescent twins older than three. The children will be returned, but nearly witless and sterile, doomed to grow immensely and enormously painfully in their middle teens, serve (if not too stupid) as workhorses, and suddenly, painfully wither and die in their early thirties. An erstwhile priest in the community knows what Roland and company are, and he persuades a community to send a committee to ask for their help. Of course, once asked, the code of the gunslinger compels acceptance. Gonna be a humdinger of a fight! Fore and aft of the showdown, King stuffs the book with juice, like the big flashback, in which Pere Callahan reveals his past in . . . 'Salem's Lot. One of the greatest cavalcades in popular fiction is back on track. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Wolves of the Calla, the fifth book in the series, lives up to all these expectations—and then some.
The opening chapter sets up a confrontation with the Wolves referenced in the book’s title, fearsome raiders who come to the village of Calla Bryn Sturgis once a generation to steal half their children. Those taken eventually return, but they’re “roont” (ruined), marred by gigantism and mental enfeeblement. Stopping the Wolves is tangential to the protagonists’ main goal: Roland, Eddie, Jake, and Susannah—the last “gunslingers”—seek the Dark Tower, the multiverse’s crumbling lynchpin. But King sets most of the novel in Calla Bryn Sturgis, and the story occasionally drags as our heroes investigate the village and lay their plans.
Things slow further when Father Callahan, a character from King’s (seemingly) independent novel Salem’s Lot, explains why he's now in Calla Bryn Sturgis. The tale involves alcoholism and vampires, spans several chapters, and isn’t immediately relevant to Wolves of the Calla. Callahan’s inclusion does get at King’s overarching premise, however: that all worlds, both real and imagined, are linked.
The good father also provides a plot device: near the end of his trek to Calla Bryn Sturgis, Callahan acquired Black Thirteen. This malevolent artifact allows Roland to open doors into different worlds. The gunslingers use these doors to revisit 1977 New York, Jake’s home and the site of a threat to the Dark Tower’s physical manifestation. Cutting back to New York weaves more connections between the story’s various worlds—as one reality bleeds into the next—but the extra threads don’t feel entirely necessary.
Oh, and while all this is happening, Susannah is dealing with a form of demonic possession that’s triggering her schizophrenia in particularly disturbing ways.
And yet… there’s lots to like here, despite (and often because of) the craziness. King creates a believable dialect for the villagers of Calla Bryn Sturgis. The gunslingers’ personalities all deepen in some way. Most elements of the world/universe feel fresh, even though King is fusing together a grab bag of genres and pop culture. And the final showdown with the Wolves is legitimately thrilling.
So: as I’ve also come to expect of a Dark Tower book, Wolves of the Calla is worth the journey, maddening as it can be sometimes. I’m in for the long haul with this series. If you like innovative writing, and have some time and patience on your hands, you should join me.
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Very boroing.Read more