I am a latecomer to The Dark Tower. I began it a decade ago with a paperback of the first book, but couldn’t get into it. During my initial Peace Corps service, I bought the whole series as ebooks in mid-2009. I had more free time then and a netbook computer. Over the next six months, I traversed Mid-World with Roland and his ka-tet. I finished in early 2010. Not long after, King announced he would return to the series. I pity those who had to wait since 2004 for another tale.
This book has been described as part 4.5 of the series. Roland has made it past Lud, but he and his group are forced to take refuge along the path of the beam because of a vicious storm. While holed up, Roland tells a tale-within-a-tale. The outer is his early encounter with a skin walker. The inner is a story he favored as a child-the story of Tim Stoutheart.
Both stories immediately draw you into their grasp. The world is as rich in detail as ever with strange things from our world make interesting cameos as when the stick shift from a Dodge Dart appears. We learn more about Mid-World from before things moved on. We also gain new insights into Roland’s character and how he grew into the man we know in the series.
There are many great moments in each section. I am partial to the story of Tim Stoutheart because it shows us so much more of the world that was. It made me dream of a short story collection just from Mid-World. This book also features what we know to be the last truly happy ending in the series, but of course that’s the nature of tales retold.
I couldn’t believe how easily I slipped back into the world of the Dark Tower. The low speech came back to me quickly and without trouble. It was like seeing again an old forgotten friend. That said, I don’t think anyone would have trouble picking up the book without having read the others. It’s very accessible. Best (or perhaps worst) of all, it will only whet your appetite for the others, I think.
I read the book in a couple of nights. It was a pleasure to welcome Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake and Oy back into my world. I hope they come again soon.
Stephen King, I say thankee, sai.