The Waste Lands is the third installment in The Dark Tower series, continuing the journey of Roland of Gilead and his companions through Mid-World. The first half of the book can in some ways be seen as leftover plot from The Drawing of the Three, but it also lays the foundation for the second half, making the transition between the parts barely noticeable.
The nice thing about this book is that King doesn’t ignore the paradox that was created by the events at the end of the previous book. Instead he draws the logical conclusions, incorporates the consequences into the plot of The Waste Lands, and solves the dilemma in an entirely satisfactory manner.
King also continues the trend of adding details that he has borrowed from other fantasy authors. I couldn’t help smiling when the name of a monstrous bear turned out to be Shardik, just as in the book with the same name by Richard Adams, and when Eddie recognized the name but couldn’t understand why he associated it with rabbits (Adams most well-known work is Watership Down) I laughed out loud. A nice touch, especially since it strengthens the link between Roland’s world and our world.
However, there are two reasons I won’t give this book a top grade. The first is that the pace is somewhat slower than in The Drawing of the Three. (It was noticeable easier to put it down and do other things.) The second is that despite King’s assurance in the Author’s Note that he ran out of story for the moment, it felt like the book ended before the current plot line had run its natural course. It did not really matter that much to me, since I was able to start reading Wizard and Glass right away, but it still feels a bit odd to find the logical end 60 pages into the next book of the series, written six years later.