Stephen King's Song of Susannah is the sixth in his epic Dark Tower series. It follows directly from the end of Wolves of the Calla. As the villagers deal with the aftermath of their battle, Eddie plans to follow Susannah/Mia, and one of the beams that holds the Dark Tower in place finally snaps.
The strength of the narrative is how the characters have divided loyalties: to find Calvin Tower and persuade him to sell the lot containing the Rose to the 'Tet-corporation' and protect the Tower, or deal with the affair of the heart and find Susannah.
However, this conflict means the narrative is split three ways: there is little interaction between the groups and the story becomes three separate narratives, with Susannah, not surprisingly, the primary focus. The story mostly takes place our world in 1975 and 1999. Roland and Eddie leave the story around page 314, while Jake and Callahan really only have forty pages to themselves. Each of these three threads ends with a sense of anticipation for the final novel.
The story does carry the narrative forward - to a point. Song of Susannah answers some questions, most particularly, the surprising revelation of who the father of Susannah/Mia's baby is, and some remarkable characterisation of the internal conflict between the multiple personalities. Also, very impressive is the gradual transformation of Jake, becoming more like Roland following the death of Benny Stillman.
There are some disappointments within the story: one of the strengths of the earlier volumes was the gradual revelation through the retrospective view on the revolution and the fall of Gilead - there is none of that in this volume. Furthermore, the way that King narrates his story - having the characters recognise his conscious indebtedness to other genres is like having a magician explaining how magic tricks are done. Everything seems to have labels attached, and the information on the labels underscored (explaining the relevance of the name 'Calla Bryn Sturgis' and how many fighters were in the trench when the Wolves arrived). The use of the name 'Mordred' carries with it so much legendary baggage that it is impossible not to see the significance of the character. It seems a shallow way to present characterisation.
What is most frustrating is the significance that King places on his own importance and in-jokes. The novel is bogged down with self-conscious references to his other novels. There are some potentially distasteful references that the modern reader would understand but that the travellers from New York would not, for example, hiding Black Thirteen in the WTC and saying that it would be safe if 'a hundred and ten stories of concrete and steel' fell on top of it.
However, despite the above, it was an enjoyable novel, and it brings us closer to the end of the series. Unlike the first four novels, we only have to wait three months for the conclusion!