All good things must come to an end, Constant Reader, and not even Stephen King can make a story that goes on forever. The tale of Roland Deschain's relentless quest for the Dark Tower has, the author fears, sorely tried the patience of those who have followed it from its earliest chapters. But attend to it a while longer, if it pleases you, for this volume is the last, and often the last things are best.
Roland's ka-tet remains intact, though scattered over wheres and whens. Susannah-Mia has been carried from the Dixie Pig (in the summer of 1999) to a birthing room -- really a chamber of horrors -- in Thunderclap's Fedic; Jake and Father Callahan, with Oy between them, have entered the restaurant on Lex and Sixty-first with weapons drawn, little knowing how numerous and noxious are their foes. Roland and Eddie are with John Cullum in Maine, in 1977, looking for the site on Turtleback Lane where "walk-ins" have been often seen. They want desperately to get back to the others, to Susannah especially, and yet they have come to realize that the world they need to escape is the only one that matters.
Thus the book opens, like a door to the uttermost reaches of Stephen King's imagination. You've come this far. Come a little farther. Come all the way. The sound you hear may be the slamming of the door behind you. Welcome to The Dark Tower.
A pilgrimage that began with one lone man's quest to save multiple worlds from chaos and destruction unfolds into a tale of epic proportions. While King saw some criticism for the slow pace of 1982's The Gunslinger, the book that launched this series, The Drawing of the Three (Book II, 1987), reeled in readers with its fantastical allure. And those who have faithfully journeyed alongside Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake and Oy ever since will find their loyalty toward the series' creator richly rewarded. The tangled web of the tower's multiple worlds has manifested itself in many of King's other works�The Stand (1978), Insomnia (1994) and Hearts in Atlantis (1999), to name a few. As one character explains here, "From the spring of 1970, when he typed the line The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed... very few of the things Stephen King wrote were `just stories.' He may not believe that; we do." King, in fact, intertwines his own life story deeper and deeper into the tale of Roland and his surrogate family of gunslingers, and, in this final installment, playfully and seductively suggests that it might not be the author who drives the story, but rather the fictional characters that control the author. This philosophical exploration of free will and destiny may surprise those who have viewed King as a prolific pop-fiction dispenser. But a closer look at the brilliant complexity of his Dark Tower world should explain why this bestselling author has finally been recognized for his contribution to the contemporary literary canon. With the conclusion of this tale, ostensibly the last published work of his career, King has certainly reached the top of his game. And as for who or what resides at the top of the tower... The many readers dying to know will have to start at the beginning and work their way up. 12 color illus. by Michael Whelan. Agent, Arthur Greene. (Sept. 21) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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August 20, 2006
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Excerpt from The Dark Tower VII by Stephen King
Tian was blessed (though few farmers would have used such a word) with three patches: River Field, where his family had grown rice since time out of mind; Roadside Field, where ka-Jaffords had grown sharproot, pumpkin, and corn for those same long years and generations; and Son of a Bitch, a thankless tract which mostly grew rocks, blisters, and busted hopes. Tian wasn't the first Jaffords determined to make something of the twenty acres behind the home place; his Gran-pere, perfectly sane in most other respects, had been convinced there was gold there. Tian's Ma had been equally positive it would grow porin, a spice of great worth. Tian's particular insanity was madrigal. Of course madrigal would grow in Son of a Bitch. Must grow there. He'd gotten hold of a thousand seeds (and a dear penny they had cost him) that were now hidden beneath the floorboards of his bedroom. All that remained before planting next year was to break ground in Son of a Bitch. This chore was easier spoken of than accomplished.
Clan Jaffords was blessed with livestock, including three mules, but a man would be mad to try using a mule out in Son of a Bitch; the beast unlucky enough to draw such duty would likely be lying legbroke or stung to death by noon of the first day. One of Tian's uncles had almost met this latter fate some years before. He had come running back to the home place, screaming at the top of his lungs and pursued by huge mutie wasps with stingers the size of nails.
They had found the nest (well, Andy had found it; Andy wasn't bothered by wasps no matter how big they were) and burned it with kerosene, but there might be others. And there were holes. Yer-bugger, plenty o' them, and you couldn't burn holes, could you No. Son of a Bitch sat on what the old folks called "loose ground." It was consequently possessed of almost as many holes as rocks, not to mention at least one cave that puffed out draughts of nasty, decay-smelling air. Who knew what boggarts and speakies might lurk down its dark throat
And the worst holes weren't out where a man (or a mule) could see them. Not at all, sir, never think so. The leg-breakers were always concealed in innocent-seeming nestles of weeds and high grass. Your mule would step in, there would come a bitter crack like a snapping branch, and then the damned thing would be lying there on the ground, teeth bared, eyes rolling, braying its agony at the sky. Until you put it out of its misery, that was, and stock was valuable in Calla Bryn Sturgis, even stock that wasn't precisely threaded.
Tian therefore plowed with his sister in the traces. No reason not to. Tia was roont, hence good for little else. She was a big girl -- the roont ones often grew to prodigious size -- and she was willing, Man Jesus love her. The Old Fella had made her a Jesus-tree, what he called a crusie-fix, and she wore it everywhere. It swung back and forth now, thumping against her sweating skin as she pulled.