13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Song of Susannah
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...
Published on 10 Jun 2004 by Isengrin
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The ending to this wonderful series feels like a betrayal
It's not exaggerating to say that I had a little weep when I saw where King was going with this series. The hints are there all the way through: the casual dropping in of his name into previous volumes; the ending of Wolves of the Calla which suggests that the author known as 'Stephen King' is to form a key part of their puzzle, their ka-tet. At the end of Wolves I found...
Published on 23 July 2009 by KJMcRobbo
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Song of Susannah,
This review is from: Song of Susannah : The Dark Tower VI (Hardcover)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!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There is no pure world, only fighting against dark evil,
This review is from: Song of Susannah : The Dark Tower VI (Hardcover)Stephen King is approaching the end of the path leading to the Dark Tower. This sixth and last but one volume is phenomenal. It is the story of Susannah, who has been hijacked by some primitive spirit, who has been impregnated with a child during a rape in some stone circle, when she moves towards her delivery. It has to happen in New York in 1999. Susannah is thus taken by force, or nearly, to the Big Apple that looks like a big blood pie. The other members of her gunslinger ka-tet are following, plus the priest from Salem's Lot. And all of them are back in New York or in Maine, at different times and at in different places with different missions. Mia, the evil spirit, leads a game that she does not control. Her leadership is thus vain and blind. She is the prey and the prisoner of the Crimson King who wants her child, not really hers in fact, to achieve his destructive project against the beams that support the Dark Tower and the whole world. But the book is phenomenal because it brings together a great number of lines from other books by Stephen King. It is a real multiple crossroads and roundabout of a good dozen of his previous novels. This gives some perspective to his whole writing history. So many books have dealt with the theme of the bad guy who is trying to destroy the world. Evil versus good. But the good side is no choirboy : they are also able, the gunslingers, to kill innocent people if necessary. They are some kind of levelling machine that flattens everything and everyone that stands in their way. There is no stopping them. The chase is irresistible. Stephen King seems to want to give the key to his whole writing career and work. But Stephen King also goes one iota further in his obsession about the relationship between himself and his characters. He becomes an essential character in the book itself. He is the one who has started the whole shindick a long time ago and then he does not know any more if he is the creator of his characters or if he is only the receiver of news from beyond sent by his characters who, once propelled on the road to the Dark Tower, have assumed their existence the way they wanted. In other words he compares himself with the god of this multiple layer universe of his, this Gan who created the world from his navel. He too creates his characters and their adventures from his navel, not from his brain, so he says at least. But this is a fundamental question about creative activities : what creates what ? The artist creates his art, or art creates the artist ? It is impossible to answer such a question because it goes far beyond itself and brings forward the further question : what makes a creative act creative ? Is it because it reflects the world and makes us think about it ? Is it because it goes beyond all limits and taboos coming from the world and drowns us in this permanent tresspassing ambition ? Is it because he follows his deepest unconscious, his deepest impulses and bombards us with the bullets of the dark side of our souls and bodies ? What we can say is that King is a genius as for suspending our disbelief and that is an essential element about his success. He wraps the most incredible events in such a fascinating packaging that we cannot believe what we see and yet we cannot disbelive it. We are mesmerized by the style, by the story-telling and we navigate from one place to another, from one time to the next or the previous one, from one soul to all the others, from one being to the most human and humane or monstrous and frightening creatures without ever being sated, asking for more and more and more, enjoying the pleasure we find in believing, at least for a while, what is unbelievable from the very start. And this journey in the virtual world of the darkest mind in the universe is the supreme experience that makes us reach the deepest truth about humanity. Truth is never what we see because it can only be what we do not perceive and do not want to accept. Truth is a limitless dream beyond the obvious that does not require any faith but only the eyes and the desire to see the invisible. Truth is necessarily beyond any stimulus our senses can give us, at least our five basic senses, because we forgot there is a sixth one : imagination. King forces us to cultivate the garden of our imagination like no one ellse has ever done it, even Shakespeare.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The ending to this wonderful series feels like a betrayal,
This review is from: The Dark Tower: Song of Susannah Bk. 6 (Paperback)It's not exaggerating to say that I had a little weep when I saw where King was going with this series. The hints are there all the way through: the casual dropping in of his name into previous volumes; the ending of Wolves of the Calla which suggests that the author known as 'Stephen King' is to form a key part of their puzzle, their ka-tet. At the end of Wolves I found myself praying that King wasn't going to do what I thought he was going to do. When I started the next book my heart sank.
It's made worse by the fact that the first four-five books are so outstanding. I had invested so much in these characters and their situation; to be reminded - in the most egotistical way - that the whole thing was just a fiction, was like a slap in the face.
Boo hoo, is all I can say. A tragic end to one of the most promising things I've read in years.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just one more turn to go!,
This review is from: Song of Susannah : The Dark Tower VI (Hardcover)'Song of Susannah' is the penultimate chapter of Stephen King's 'Dark Tower' story. After the crazily (some might say)long 'Wolves of the Calla', book six is extremely refreshing in it's narrative and pace. King proves that he still has the ability to write a 'rollercoaster' novel, with twists and turns all the way, and when he's in the zone no-one can outdo him.
Obviously 'Susannah's greatest weakness is the lack of a real beginning and end, but this is to be expected. The series is going to conclude with an epic novel in it's own right (book 7 - 'The Dark Tower'), which should finally give us all 'the answers' (many new questions are raised, of course, in 'Song of Susannah').
Certain negative reviews are still missing the point about this series. It truly is one huge long book split into seven parts. There isn't meant to be an arc within each part, the story is continuous. In fact, no review can really do this book justice as we won't feel it's full effect until we've finished the final chapter.
As for King himself appearing in the saga, people are too ready to criticise this as self-indulgence. This story IS his life, the backbone of his writing career, what almost all his other books are about (some moreso than others). You think of 'The Stand' and 'It', two of his most famous books, and they are pretty much side plots to 'The Dark Tower'. Through including himself in 'Song of Susannah' he has elevated 'The Dark Tower' into something far greater than just another novel written by Stephen King. Read it and you'll see...
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The end approacheth...,
This review is from: The Dark Tower: Song of Susannah v. 6 (Paperback)Pen-ultimate books in a series are often the hardest. How do you manage to ratchet up the tension for the last book without giving away your denouement or leave your fans short changed? This is none so true as to Stephen King, who in the manner of Phillip Pullman has unflinchingly upped the stakes for each Dark Tower sequel. He did this in spectacular fashion at the end of Wolves of the Calla by introducing a character from another of his books, and then having him find, well, that book. Existential crisis doesn't really do justice. How exactly was King going to follow this?
Fortunately, King manages the feat amply in Song of Susannah. After the ever-so-slightly turgid Wolves of the Calla, I don't think I was alone in wanting something a bit more fast-paced from the Dark Tower. In that respect I wasn't at all disappointed- there's a tangible sense of urgency and pinch in Song of Susannah, and you are on teeterhooks with all three threads which run through it. Whilst Susannah fights a losing battle with her alter-ego Mia as the demented mother carries her/them and their sinister baby into the lion's den, Jake and his new companion Constanti- sorry, Callahan miserably rush to what they know is a belated cavalry charge. Meanwhile, Eddie and Roland escape meeting their makers at the hands of (reincarnated) Italian gangsters, before going to meet their maker anyway. If you are any kind of Dark Tower fan, you must know that King himself stars in this book. It's very hard what to make of this. A courageous and startling burst of imagination? An embarrassing display of hubris? As the book gently starts to eat itself in the last third or so, I suppose you'll have to make up your own minds. Basically, as with all of his books, King asks us to make a leap of faith, only this time it's a lot bigger. I found that I was so gripped by what had gone before- both in this book and the Dark Tower series in general- that I was able to make it, despite my doubts. And, yes, if you step back from Song of Susannah then its clear that the Dark Tower series is impossibly long (we could have coped without Wizard and Glass and WOTC), he invests himself with a ridiculous amount of self-importance, he beats us over the head with a lot of unneccessary symbolism and in the end what we have is the Matrix crossed with a Clint Eastwood flick.
But I wonder whether you'll be thinking this when its three in the morning and you still can't put this down. End of the world? Bring it on.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nineteen,
This review is from: Song of Susannah : The Dark Tower VI (Hardcover)This series has been unputdownable right from the start, since I casually picked up The Gunslinger in Waterstone's. It finally occurred to me yesterday why I have to keep reading it, even to the point of missing my stop of the bus, running out of clean crockery, and not noticing the pileup of laundry: the twists get weirder and more fantastic. For want of a better word, the whole thing just gets more and more...NINETEEN.
I can't wait for book 7 - winging its way as I type, my indulgent friend having it ordered it for me for my birthday (I couldn't wait for payday!).
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The dreaded author character,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Dark Tower: Song of Susannah v. 6 (Paperback)Aside from the aged ideas and tastes of Stephen King, what ultimately failed to elevate the Dark Tower series to the status of epic is that it had been declared to be such before it was even over. It was clear from the moment King picked up the Dark Tower series again after years of hiatus - it HAD to be grand, and so, it failed. In this volume that is apparent more than ever. From start to finish the volume is threaded with patterns and motives of previous books (mostly Wolves of the Calla, though), such as the little commala-doggerel closing every chapter. By the time King introduces himself as a character of great importance, you feel it - this man feels he can do no wrong.
I must say, from all the books of King I've read, with all their introductions or afterwords, I got the idea that for the most commonly read author in the western world, he's a pretty humble and agreeable guy. He certainly strives to promote that idea by giving himself, in the book, a fair amount of flaws and even making his characters not even like him that much. The problem is that there is simply no way to include yourself in your fiction without amounting to much more than vanity. It doesn't matter if you become a god or a slob, the mere need to so strongly force your reader to acknowledge that it's you... YOU! who made this world and its characters, is a stroking of your ego. According to interviews and afterwords, King decided on his self-inclusion because he felt the Dark Tower series was so strongly intertwined with his own life. Dandy, but what attracted the rest of us to the book was his imagination, not the fact that he drank too much and once had a serious run-in with a car.
Song of Susannah is a rather quick and frantic work that makes you wonder how all of this is going to be resolved in the next volume, with still time enough left for the conclusion. It entertains, definitely, but the characters and story are starting to lose their power. If you're not a very enthusiastic Dark Tower reader, now would be a great time to bail out.
Lastly, was it just me, or did anyone else feel King originally wrote himself as John Cullum, the extremely helpful caretaker who rescues Roland and Eddie at the start of the book?
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some flaws but for any Dark Tower follower, a must,
This review is from: Song of Susannah : The Dark Tower VI (Hardcover)In a way, this is almost a redundant review. If, like me, you have been following the Dark Tower series then you will buy this book whatever. And, in most ways you won't be dissapointed - the story edges ever closer to the Tower and answers some questions, whilst asking others.
Like some other reviewers though, I have to agree King procrastinates far too long - he spends too much time reflecting on nonsensical things: the number 19; the Calla, Callahan coincidence (?) and so on. Force feeding the readers these coincidences takes the mystery away and gets you wishing he would just get on with it. The inclusion of himself in the book as well ? I don't know what to say, hubris? I can say that it does the story no favours - from the first mention of King in the story I began to wonder how he'd pull that off. It isn't as cheesy as it could be but, on the other hand, really doesn't help the narrative along at all. Were that chapter missing, I doubt anyone would notice.
Two minor points in what is still a great book, and any Dark Tower CR (constant reader) should buy this. The story does well to set up the grand finale and, personally, I can't wait. What will Roland do when he gets to the Tower? Will he get there? I suppose that was the point of this penultimate book in the series and it does a great job. I read this all the same day I bought it (all 400-odd pages), a thing I haven't done in a while. Must be pretty good...
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, But Not Up To Par!,
This review is from: The Song of Susannah (Dark Tower) (Paperback)The saga of Roland Deschain, Gunslinger of the line of Eld, and his "ka-tet," (those whom destiny hath joined), continues in "Song Of Susannah," the sixth, and penultimate novel in Stephen King's phenomenal Dark Tower series. As all readers should know by now, Susannah Dean is the woman who was born when her two former personalities, Odetta Susannah Holmes and Detta Walker merged. She has now been overtaken by a third persona, the demon-mother Mia, pregnant with her "chap," Mordred, who presents a deadly threat to the ka-tet and their mission. Eddie Dean, previously a drug addict and mule in New York City, is Susannah's husband, Roland's right-hand man, but not the father of the child Susannah/Mia carries. Jake Chambers, is a boy from Manhattan who died twice in Book #1, was subsequently and symbolically reborn in Mid-World and is Roland's surrogate son. Oy, is their talking pet billy-bumbler, and all around Gunslinger helper. And Pere Donald Callahan is the ka-tet's newest member, from Calla Bryn Sturgis, and before that from Stephen King's novel "Salem's Lot." Together the six walk the path of the Beam, searching for the Tower, that magical edifice which holds together time and all universes. Their quest is to prevent the destruction of the Tower, and the unthinkable consequences, by the fearsome Crimson King and his evil forces.
"Song of Susannah " opens where "Wolves of the Calla" left off, with Jake, Callahan and Oy going through the door in the Cave near Calla. Their destination is 1999, New York City, and their mission is to find and help Susannah avoid the horrors which await if Mia takes total control of her body. The woman/women are also about due to go into labor, and will be at the mercy of the Crimson King's sinister "low men" if not rescued in time. Jake, Callahan and Oy must also find and take possession of the mighty and deadly Black Thirteen.
Roland and Eddie travel through the same door to East Stoneham, Maine, in the year 1977, to buy the vacant lot located at Second Avenue and Forty-Sixth Street in Manhattan, where grows the precious Rose, the manifestation of the Tower on Earth. The two Gunslingers must find Calvin Tower, who is in hiding near town with his friend Aaron Deepneau, and convince Tower to sell them the property. Meanwhile, Enrico Balazar and his thugs have also traveled to East Stoneham, to murder Tower and Deepneau and gain control of the lot. If they do, the lot will be bought and the Rose captured and destroyed by North Central Positronics and Sombra, the multilateral corporations responsible for much of the wasteland Mid-World has become.
The first four Dark Tower novels are amongst the best pop fiction I have ever read, and certainly King's best work. I love this epic saga, and Roland in particular, who is certainly my ideal classic hero. There have been more than a few times when I became so engrossed in the story I almost forgot I was reading fiction - so real did the Gunslinger and his ka-tet seem, and so grave their danger - and ours. Nothing less than the future of all universes and time is at stake here. Right? Book five was somewhat of a disappointment. Instead of multiple plots, much action, taut writing and increasing tension, the novel was overlong, slower paced, included too much repetition and filler, and of all things, introduced the author as a character, as well as brought forth a character from one of King's early books. I had read "Salem's Lot" years ago and had forgotten much of the story - thus I missed out on a good part of "Wolves of the Calla's" significance. Why weren't loyal readers warned to brush up on King's prior novels? Still, I thought it was an above average read, although not even close to the quality of the previous four novels.
Stephen King has become increasingly self-indulgent and this becomes quite evident in "Song of Susannah." The first books are so good that it would be impossible to spoil them for me, and nothing can permanently detract from the ka-tet's members, nor their mission. However, by not only making himself a character here, but a major character, King errs greatly. Just as Susannah has been taken over by Mia the host, King's ego has dominated the talented author. King even describes his own laugh as, "charmingly goofy." Puleeze!! The result is not worthy of the series. King has Roland and Eddie visit him and the three discuss the Dark Tower series. Brave, serious, purposeful Roland actually becomes frightened when he realizes he is but a figment of the author's imagination. The dark drama suddenly takes on a circus-like atmosphere. For a minute, I felt kind of like a kid being told there's no Santa Claus. The introduction of King's biographical material, etc., and reinforcing that the heroes are fictional, diminishes the power and magic of Roland of Gilead, Mid-World, et.al., and brings the reader crashing back to reality, in my opinion. I also found distracting and irrelevant the CODA or King's writer's journal, which highlight events in the author's life from 1977 - 1999. Why?
Not only would I never discourage anyone from reading "Song of Susannah," I firmly believe that those who miss out on this extraordinary series are denying themselves some major literary pleasure. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I highly recommend all 7 books, although I have yet to read the last one. At this point, I don't care how King ends his epic. I just know that he has taken me, so far, on a glorious 3500 page ride, (approximately), and I have loved almost every minute of it. Nothing that occurs in the final book, or that happened in this one, can spoil my glorious experience with the Dark Tower. I do believe in calling it like it is, though, and Mr. King got it wrong with this one...but it is still a decent book.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Which beam will break next?,
This review is from: Song of Susannah : The Dark Tower VI (Hardcover)Roland and his ka-tet continue their journey towards the Dark Tower after their confrontation with the Wolves at Calla Bryn Sturgis. But the group is not complete anymore, since Susannah disappeared before the fighting was done. And she has taken with her Black Thirteen, a dangerous object that allows traveling between different worlds. Susannah left because she has been carrying a creature in her womb, and she is being controlled by Mia, the mother of the "baby" and one of Susannah's alter egos. Those that have read the whole series, and if you have not you should do so before reading this book, will remember that when Susannah was drawn towards the ka-tet, she was controlled by Detta Walker. Detta also makes an appearance and we can see a battle of three different personalities within the same person.
Meanwhile, Eddie is desperate to follow her lover and release her from her "prison", and to do this he needs the assistance of the rest of the members of the group, including Pere Callahan. They have to hurry though, because one of the beams holding the Tower has just broken, and only two remain, one of them being the one in which the ka-tet is now: Beam of the Bear. As the journey towards their gold progresses, the connection between the members of the ka-tet becomes stronger and stronger. But on top of that they all have to deal with their own issues. For example, Pere Callahan is struck dumb by the fact that his life is accurately depicted in a novel called Salem's Lot, written by a not so well-known author named Stephen King.
Between the group trying to save Susannah, Mia trying to get her chap born, and the necessity of the ka-tet to buy the lot in which the rose was located, which is now a building called Black Tower, we are in the presence of an action-packed book. This differs considerably from the previous novel in the series, which had some parts that were fast-paced, but which also spent a considerable amount of time going back to the past of the main characters and setting up a basis for what was to come.
Several characters from the previous books show up again, like Enrico Balazar, and sometimes it is hard to remember everything that we know about them from previous books due to the amount of time that has elapsed between their publication. I think that those people who love this series like I do, should go back to the beginning and read it as a whole again. I am sure it will enhance our understanding of everything that happened and will allow us to enjoy this work even more.
Even though this book is considerably shorter than the latest installments, I think that the quality remains at an exceptionally high level. This is truly King at his best, the same one you can find in "Misery", "The Shinning", "It" and "Pet Sematary". The only thing left to say is that Stephen King delivers a huge surprise in this book, and I am sure that some people will get angry at this, but I enjoyed it and thought it was a very clever idea. I believe that those who appreciate King's style will like it too.
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Song of Susannah : The Dark Tower VI by Stephen King (Hardcover - 8 Jun 2004)
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