on 5 May 2006
As a recent review said, this really is the pinnacle of the series. Unlike that person and many others, I wouldn't quite say it's downhill from here as personally I loved the way the series ended. But then that's another book, another day and another review.
Wizard and Glass is mostly set in the past, telling a story of Roland's days before his quest. After the cliff-hanger is resolved, Roland decides it's about time he told them more about the beginnings of his quest and as the day ends, time slows as he's able to tell his whole story in one "night". Once the tale is told they have an interesting confrontation with the Man in Black and then head off again along the beam. What's amazing about this book however is the tale in between. The rest are really book-ends. At the start, the conflict had to be resolved and at the end we had to be brought back onto their quest, back to the present.
Some people criticise spending a whole book in the past, but then, by now don't they care a lot about Roland? I certainly did and I wanted to know more about him. I admit I felt daunted by the prospect of such a long tale, but when it contains the best storytelling in the series that soon fades. This has drama, emotion, character development and an intriguing plot. It's a fully resolved and extremely well-told tale. The ending brought tears to my eyes, and any tale that can do that can't be anything but well-told.
We also get to find out a bit more about Alain and Cuthbert, which is really important in understanding who Roland is. And we get to see Roland, more or less at his best. The plan of three gunslingers being carried out with skill and precision, though not perfectly, for nothing ever goes perfectly.
My own words aren't really adequate to describe how good this book is, so I'll leave it there, just adding that if you're thinking of reading these books then you're in for a treat when you get to the start of Wizard and Glass.
on 15 August 2000
King's foray into magic culminates for now in unrefined, unadulterated beauty. Further along their way to Dark Tower, Roland and his companions encounter their hardest trials and tests so far. King gives us some history here and shows how their all destinies were inexorably linked and rushing towards this time. In a book that far surpasses five stars or anything I can say, King writes with pathos, sorrow, unparalleled style and a palpable love of the characters he has created. You can feel it, because you love them too. Wizard and Glass is the most magical story so far in the story and also the last for now. But its not an end - its only the very beginning. You will not be able to stand the fact that there is as yet no sequel to this, and that there might never be. One thing is for sure though: Roland, Eddie and Suzanne will always be in your memory and your mind just waiting to finish, with their creator, their story. Marvellous.
on 19 August 2003
If you are a fan of the previous three books then the anticipation for this installment must have been eagarly anticipated. I found this book exceptional, eventhough the journey to the tower does not advance that much (as critics of the book have clearly stated!), the story of Susan and Roland is beatifully told and in addition it expands on chracters mentioned previously, including my personal favorite Cuthbert. The ending is both tragic and quite surprising not to mention moving, i didn't think King could pull off a love story but he proved me wrong in a big way. The good news for Dark tower fans is that the next three installments will be out in fairly quick sucession which will make a change from the gaps between the previous books.
The world (should that be 'worlds') of Roland the Gunslinger is a strange place and, as King explains in the afterword, contains all of the characters and places of his other stories on one level of the Tower or another. Therefore be prepared to take a trip into surreality itself and take the path that leads to the Dark Tower.
To begin with the book ends the cliffhanger involving Blaine, the psychotic monorail. It then moves on into a long journey through a pseudo-Kansas where strange 'thinnies' warp space itself. Then, Roland begins the tale of his first adventure as a Gunslinger.
At first the story moves at a slow pace, but you'll find all the Western-esque scene setting and character building to be esential when the the terrible end comes. Soon, however Roland and his young gunslinger friends Cuthbert and Alain have a nasty run in with the Big Coffin Hunters, Jonas, Depape and Reynolds. These three are brilliant anti-gunslingers, posessing all of a gunslinger's skills, but without any loyalty to honour and justice.
Rapidly the sleepy town of Hambry becomes embroiled in the war against the revolutionist John Farson and Roland's friends find themselves beset on all sides...
Finally, with his terrible story told the heroes of 'The Waste Lands' move ever onwards, encountering things plucked from a twisted version of 'The Wizard Of Oz' and revealing more of Roland's oldest enemy, Marten.
King's true skill as a writer lies in his ability to make the ridiculous seem not only feasible, but positively sensible. And there is much in Roland's world that you would scoff at if not for the earnest honesty and attention to detail King writes with.
At times you'll find the book heavy going, at others you won't be able to tear yourself away but come the end you will find that the horror of this story is far greater than that of any other King story because of the deep emotional level that it touches on.
Passion and pain. Love and misery.
on 14 June 2002
I'm not generally a fan of King but i find myself unable to put this series down. I bought the first three some years ago and was delighted when the fourth was released. The story was not dissapointing starting where you were left at the end of book 3 and then going into Rolands past to show what happened to him after his trial of manhood. The book leaves you desperate for the next book and has left me wondering what happened to his old ka-tet of Alain, Cuthbert, Jamie and Sheemie. Can't wait for the next installment.
on 22 April 2009
I really enjoyed the Dark Tower Vol 1: Gunslinger because I was quickly immersed in the idea of a western/fantasy crossover. The mystery and potentially epic scale of what once might have been in Roland's world and the possibilities of what lay ahead didn't disappoint (even if the Slow Mutants did nothing for me). And although I've stuck with and enjoyed much of the Tower ever since I must admit I have been disappointed with giant robotic bears, lobsters and talking trains... and the character of Eddie is just plain irritating.
And then came Volume 4: Wizard and Glass. This was the novel I wanted all along! A beautiful western it is too, with believable characters, love, action, tragedy, subterfuge, and a stunning backdrop you can really visualise. Even the witch with her crystal ball is done very well in spite the deliberate cliche. I won't go into details on the storyline because its already been said elsewhere.
And then, inevitably, the flashback narrative that makes up the bulk of this novel returned me to the "present", and once again I felt disappointment at being confronted with characters I had little interest in (Why would Roland's friends be giggling and joking moments after hearing his tale of ultimate despair?)and a ridiculous Wizard of Oz homage ending which comes close to wrecking the entire experience. I think Stephen King's writing style is also far better when detailing Roland's history. At least the graphic novels all focus on this element of the series and I look forward to reading them once I've reached the Tower itself.
(EDIT: I reached the Tower. The VERY ending is worthwhile and stayed with me for days, but a huge part of the narrative portrays Stephen King as hugely narcissistic and self-indulgent. If you can put up with this then the journey is just about worth it. WIZARD AND GLASS is definately the best novel out of all seven!)
Stephen King's novel "Wizard And Glass" is the forth instalment of the seven part epic "Dark Tower" series. The novel runs for a whopping 840 pages out of the series total of 3712 pages. Within the book you also have the usual introduction by Mr. King that's well worth the read, running for just six pages. There's also an Afterword at the end, giving the reader a little more insight into the writing of the book.
Anyway, by now you are already well into the epic journey of the Dark Tower series, with a good understanding of the five major characters (including Oy that is). The book begins exactly where we left off, with the massive cliffhanger at the end of "The Waste Lands". King tackles this well, bringing about a good introduction into this next book.
From here on in, we are sent back in time to when Roland was a young gunslinger, as he tells the story of his past and how he got to where he is now. This is basically the whole novel, which is nicely book-ended on either side.
Roland's tale brings out a whole new and complicated side to the character that we have been getting to know over that last three novels. The story shows further the honour of being a gunslinger, as well as how they are perceived. Cuthbert and Alain play large roles within the story, as does Roland's first love. His entire background and upbringing shows how this previously secretive character has grown into the man he is now.
At this stage through the series, I would say that this novel delivers by far the most insight into the characters enriching the series immensely. It is certainly not the fastest of paces, but is an enjoyable read that is difficult to put down.
Personally, I found the ending to the novel a little rushed, and dare I say forced? I know what you're thinking...840 pages and I think it's rushed! I won't spoil it for you, but the way the novel is constructed, left King with a quick fire ending that didn't really reflect the importance and build-up to the situation. Well, that's what I think anyway!
The next instalment in the series is entitled "Wolves Of The Calla".
on 30 January 1998
It isn't Faulkner, it isn't Twain, it isn't Tolkien, it isn't Lewis, it isn't L'Amour. It's King. And if there is ONE thing we KNOW about Stephen King, it is that we NEVER know quite what to expect. And so it was with the fourth installment of the Dark Tower series. We just weren't quite sure what to expect. Therefore, we aren't quite sure how to react. I liked this book. It didn't change my way of thinking or my way of life (hence-- no 10). But I found it to be a well crafted story set in a semi-western/sci-fi world. I liked the characters, the action (little though it was, which was fine) but most of all I liked the vividness of the imagery used. Now, that sounds artsy, and I'm not much of an artsy person, but King's use of words in this is amazing. The love story is compellingly romantic without seeming trivial. And then there is the sense of foreboding doom. Inevitably, we know that most of the characters will die (a la the Stand, et al) but that Roland lives and endures much pain. I think some people are wrong when they think this didn't shed any light on the main story (oh, yeah, that whole quest thing). If anything we can realize the importance of this Dark Tower (whatever and wherever it may be). If you dislike love stories and westerns, skip the middle 500 pages. I don't think King will mind. It seems to me that this series is more for him than it is for the reader. I'm right there with him cheering him on, whether he knows it or not. This is an excellent book. If you just want the quest, stick with the first 100 pages and the last 75 pages. That is the minimum requirement. If you do decide to read the middle part, don't just read-- experience it. It is the story that is willing to draw you in and make you a part of it. Be a part of it.
on 16 August 2001
If you want a book with horror, action and romance then this is the book for you! It continues the story of Roland Gilead (aka The Gunslinger)and his ka-tet, but goes back in time to recall the story of his one true love Susan, and the tragic (and horrific) consequences of falling in love. But will they ever reach the Dark Tower?
on 4 July 2009
The first three books in this saga have been very much about setting a scene, and a set of prime characters - all the more necessary because of the idiosyncracies of the world in which it is set, and it's relationship to other worlds, including ours.
This one makes the most significant step forward so far. It revolves around a story within a story - Roland tells the immensely rewarding story of how his quest for the Dark Tower began. Taking up the bulk of the book, this story finally resolves our uncertainty about how we got to where we are, how Roland's character was formed and essentially what the whole saga is truly about. King's master story-telling skills really show themselves at their greatest in this section. Though still immensely atmospheric, it tells a compelling and captivating story that is difficult to put down. We know from the offset one of its key outcomes - but the fascination is to find out how that outcome comes about. And the story contains a number of false trails, twists and turns to match the best whodunnit.
Prior to reading this volume, the series had still been "on trial" for me. However sacriligeous that may seem to devotees, I had started tentatively with volume 1, hoping to know by the end of it whether or not I wanted to continue through the whole saga. However, by the end of that volume, I still did not feel able to make that decision. I recognised the potential of course, and was intrigued, but needed to know how it would develop before making my decision. Volume 2 still did not inform my decision fully - it continued to intrigue me, and certainly showed the closest identification with the science fiction genre. It was also, in some ways, the most brutal so far. But still I did not have the feel for which way it would go.
By the end of book three, I had now become quite familiar and fascinated with the scenario in which the saga is set, identified with the ka-tet of five that was now clearly in place, and was intrigued to know what had happened to this world, an apparent "reflection" of our own world to bring it to the state it was in, but was still unsure whether this might be meandering randomly or taking me in a (as yet unidentified) definite direction. Obviously each book left me feeling it was worth carrying on to the next- but still not yet committed to the entire saga.
This book satisfied my uncertainty, and showed that my tenacity so far had been justified. It is now clear that we have an imaginative saga that really does combine the best of Westerns and of Science Fiction, and has the power to enthrall.
Roland's story of the past is sandwiched between the ongoing story of the ka-tet "in the present". The one small criticism is one I share with a previous reviewer. Despite the dominance of this volume by this story from the past, the ongoing story of the ka-tet that closes the volume out after his story is told is, in itself, very significant to their "mission" and is worthy of being told at a suitable pace, whereas, presumably because of the length of the volume overall, it has the feel of being rapidly told, and not afforded the time that its place in the overall story appears to justify.
Nonetheless, even in doing so, King has managed to leave us in a position where we really want to know what happens next, and to root for our heros in the pursuance of their quest. I have now committed to the remainder of the saga by buying the remaining 3 books.