Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Castle Rock Companion - The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla


He saw the Tower itself in the burning folds of the rose and for a moment understood its purpose: how it distributed its lines of force to all the worlds that were and held them steady in time’s great helix.

I'm continually surprised by the abrupt endings these books tend to have.  It lends itself to King's suggestion that like the Lord of the Rings, this is in fact one very long novel, but must have been infuriating for people who had to wait for the next book in the series to be released.  Wolves of the Calla is a stronger and more interesting book than Wizard and Glass was for me, but there were moments where I struggled to keep paying attention.

Unlike the last book, the flashbacks here are the strongest part.  I remember being very surprised to discover Father Callahan here, and it was a very pleasant surprise.  His journey from his abrupt departure in Salem's Lot to the Calla is a great story.  It also guarantees that "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" is going to be stuck in your head for pretty much the whole time you're reading this book.

The story on the Calla itself isn't bad, and the idea that these evil creatures are taking one from each set of twins in a small town is a fascinating one.  The characters are interesting and believable, and Andy the robot is a fun character.  But mostly it takes far too long to get to the point, and then that moment is over and done super quickly.  I know that's a part of what King is stressing, that the build up is always longer and worse than the battle, but there's only so much "old important man in town doesn't want to fight" that I really need to read before I'm asking him to get on with it.  If it wasn't for interesting bits like Andy and the Sisters of Oriza, it would be even more painful.

Perhaps the most infuriating is that a lot of this is just build up for the next book.  From the very start we're presented with the knowledge that Susannah is pregnant with a demon baby, and Roland knows but he's not telling, then he tells Eddie but no one else, then Jake knows but they still don't tell Susannah, then it's out in the open but Susannah keeps lying about her alternate personality trying to emerge.  These people are ka tet, supposed to be able to sense each other's thoughts and feelings, so their lying to each other and hiding things is so much worse.  Oy's about the only one of them I don't want to smack some sense into.

The other bit of story left hanging is their quest to protect the rose that exists in New York, purchasing the lot from Calvin Tower before the Crimson King's men can instead.  This hanging thread is a little less annoying, but it does feel like something that could be simply answered in another chapter or two rather than making us wait for the next book.  I can't help but feel like King's choices on where to end these novels is a bit misguided, and I don't envy anyone who was trying to adapt them to film.  It seems like you'd almost have to cut the stories in different places than where he does to make satisfying films.

That said, this book is important to the series as it drops a lot of important knowledge and lore on us.  This is our first real introduction to the Low Men in the story proper, along with the vampires and breakers, and we get some more details about the Crimson King and what he wants.  I just wouldn't recommend pulling this one out to read on its own.

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