on 29 April 2012
I eagerly bought and read the Dark Tower/Gunslinger books for years. After all those years I did feel cheated when the last book finally came along, cheated by the way the quest finally ended, and cheated that there would be no further adventures to look forward to.
So I was happy but rather wary to find out that King had penned another Dark Tower novel. How would it fit in with the story already told ?
Well this book is written to slot in between novels 4 & 5 of the series. It can be read as a "stand-alone", but I think that those already familiar with the series will get more from it. It's a tale within a tale within a tale, that is not really part of the main story, but gives us another glimpse of the fascinating "Mid-World", and a very brief glimpse of an interlude in the quest of the main characters (the ka-tet) from the Dark Tower series.
A terrible storm (a "Starkblast") is on the way, and the ka-tet have to take shelter in an abandoned village. During the course of the storm Roland tells them about an episode from his youth, when as a young gunslinger he is sent by his father to investigate reports about a murderous "Skin-Man" (a sort of shapeshifter)in a distant dusty town. During this adventure he encounters a terrified young lad whose unconscious mind may hold the key to uncovering the human identity of the shapeshifter. Roland tells the lad a story that his mother had told him when he was a child, a story about a brave boy (Tim "Stoutheart" Ross), who has to leave his village and face the wonders and perils of ancient Mid-World to find a magical cure for his mother who has been gravely injured by his violent stepfather.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, it was a wonderful tale which gave the reader more insight into the early life of Roland and gave more detail about the history, magic and strange legends of Mid-World. If you are looking for a full length ka-tet adventure (about Eddie, Susannah and Jake) this is not what you'll find here, but it's still a great story.
on 28 April 2012
As always, it was a pleasure to be back on the path of the beam. This book does not delve too deeply into the lives of my favourite Ka-tet, it simply enriches the tapestry of the story that has already been told. The writing was beautifully crafted and captured my attention immediately. I read the book from cover to cover in one day and was only sad to have to leave Mid-world again so soon. I've read a few of the reviews from people who were expecting more of Roland and his first Ka-tet's back story, and whilst I would love to read about those things too, I didn't feel the lack of them here. There is a joy in the author's story telling that I find impossible to deny. I fell in love with Tim and his tale. It also made me want to go back and re-read the Dark Tower series from the beginning again. Whilst you don't need to have read the series to appreciate this story I can't imagine anyone who has read it who wouldn't heartily recommend that you do.
on 26 April 2012
So, episode 4.5. On the one hand I would like an eternity of Dark Tower books, filling in all details and fleshing out stories. On the other hand, it's never worth over doing a story line.
This is a stand alone story in its own right. As ever, if you're a DT aficionado you will pick up references to the bigger stories, if you're not you won't. It's a story within a tale within the journey to the dark tower, although that does little more than set the scene for the tale.
The story is Mid-World's equivalent of a Grimm fairy tale. Only as it's Mid-World it's nastier and scarier. A boy faces up to challenges beyond his years, showing the strength that will ultimately turn him into a gunslinger.
The tale is one of Roland's youth, of inexperienced gunslingers being sent to deal with an unusual problem.
It's a joy to read a new tale of the DT, but this is a bonus to the main story, offering no additional depth to the quest for the DT. That aside, it's an enjoyable addition to the collection. Not SK's best but good enough.
on 17 June 2012
King treats us to 3 different stories within his latest novel.
In part 1, we meet up with Roland and his Ka-tat, or if your familiar with the rest of the books, you can call them, our old friends :)
Heading once again along the trail of the beam, towards the Dark Tower. Though it isn't long before danger strikes, a devastating storm known as a Starkblast approaches forcing Roland and his companions to take shelter in an abandoned town hall.
Stranded until the storm passes, Roland sits everyone down and passes the time with a story from his past.
The story of the hunt for the Skin-Man (shapeshifter)
We find a young Roland once more (this takes place not long after the events Roland spoke about in Book 4, with Susan and Wizard's Ball)
accompanied by another gunslinger, Jamie De Curry, the two set off on a task set before them by Stephen Deschain. A beast believed to be a Skin-Man has been tearing people limb from limb and its up to Roland and Jamie to figure out who it is and how to stop it before a few killings turn into a Bloodbath.
During the Skin-Man story, we are subjected to a Story within and Story, as Roland, Young Roland, begins to tell yet another story.
The main story within the book is, as you may have guessed from the title, 'The Wind Through The Keyhole'
Which is a great tale of Tim Ross, the son of a Lumberjack and his wild adventure packed full of magic, horror and excitement.
I dont wish to explain too much about this story. Only that, at first I was like "Awww, I just want to hear about Roland, I don't care about this other kid" but before long, I found myself unable to put the book down as Tim's story turned from a classic sounding fairytale into some-sort of a, Mystery, Horror, Thriller. It's brilliant. Very engaging.
Once the story of Tim is over, we return to Young Roland and the hunt for the Skin-man. And finally as this story also comes to a close, we return to our friends, sitting by the fire, as the last of the storm passes by. This isn't a spoiler at all. This is book 4.5 its obvious they are all ok, otherwise books 5, 6 and 7 wouldn't exist. Or would be COMPLETELY different.
- - -
My final verdict. Though its not solely based around Roland and his Ka-Tet, which those stories I personally loved.
As King writes in the book, Those tales have already happened and gone by, 'Once upon a bye'
I had no idea what to expect of this book, only that I had to read it once I heard its related to the Epic, that is The Dark Tower.
After reading this book, it feels as though Id gone back to read them all again, only to discover I some how missed 306 pages in one of the books.
This book does not disappoint. Id highly recommend reading the entire Dark Tower series, then returning to this book last, just as the rest of the Tower fans will have. Best to read it as intended so not to encounter spoilers.
Thankie Sai, for I hope this review helps a few of you consider purchasing and reading this novel.
May you have long days and pleasant nights, with this book in your hands and your mind lost in the world of the Tower.
on 9 July 2012
Stephen King can really spin a yarn. I've always particularly loved it when he adopts the tone of fairy tales. He has a way of capturing the magic and the darkness that made the stories of most childhoods so enrapturing. He did this in The Eyes of the Dragon and he does it again in The Wind Through The Keyhole. The villains are monstrous and wily. The heroes are noble but flawed and have brilliant names like Tim Stoutheart. The world is...wow.
The Wind Through The Keyhole is a wonderful return to the world of Roland Deschain and his ka-tet. Now, I'm very familiar with Roland. I've read the Dark Tower series and adored it. However, I can see why the synopsis claims that you could enjoy this book even if you haven't ever visited the world of the gunslinger before. You don't really need much prior knowledge about Roland or his friends because of the way the book is structured.
The Wind Through The Keyhole begins with Roland and his gunslinger-pals seeking shelter from a ferocious storm. While they are hunkered down, Roland tells a story of his younger days which involves him telling a story to another young lad. So it's a story within a story within a story.** The two stories within the frame of Roland's larger narrative are what matter in this novel, so newbies shouldn't feel too put off.
The world in which the gunslinger lives has many echoes of our own, except it has "moved on". Technologies are failing (though some remain) and civilisation is becoming sparse. It's a world where science is dying and so magic is emerging once again. This is a world which is part post-apocalyptic wasteland, part spaghetti western and part Arthurian legend. Very few authors could weave such elements effectively and King is one of them.
If you're one of those people who casts negative aspersions on readers of the fantasy genre, then I recommend you give this book a go. It could be your "gateway" book! It will lead you to the magical darkness that is the journey to the Dark Tower. It will acquaint you with Roland Deschain, one of the most enjoyable protagonists I've ever come across. You'll fall in love. The only downside is that when reading on the bus, you'll have to hide your book inside a less shameful tome. Perhaps an issue of Jugs or Playboy...
** When one story is framed by another, the term is mise en abyme. This is pronounced "mize on ah beam". This made me chuckle. All things follow the path of the beam. (Book-related joke).
on 24 July 2012
A return to Stephen King's completed Dark Tower saga, which appears to have disappointed many. Set midway through the seven book cycle, this was never going to be a story of revelations about the main characters of that masterpiece. Their story is told. Instead, they appear only as a framing device for two other stories. As they hunker down before a mighty storm, Roland begins to tell a tale of his youth, and his battle against a skin changer. This is where things get interesting, because 'that' isn't the story either - it's an entertaining novella, but itself is a framing story for a third, which young Roland tells to a child in his care. This core story, 'The Wind Through The Keyhole', is a lovely tale of quest and self-discovery, as a young man seeks revenge for his father's death and hope for his mother's blindness. I love the structure of this book - the Russian Doll effect of a story within a story within another story. That said, it's a device with potential that King barely scratches, and therefore it wastes an opportunity to really expand on the world he's built, and examine it in new ways outside of the central Tower narrative. King's storytelling gift is evidenced in each story, but he shows little interest in the potential for complexity that his nested structure offered.
on 28 April 2012
Many King fans have become increasingly disappointed with the author's recent works, although 11.22.63 was highly readable if a little long. My own disappointment increased with books six and seven of The Dark Tower series and was crushing by the time I got to the end of the final book.
But The Wind Through the Keyhole marks an incredible return to form by King. This story within a story within a story is fabulous. It is magical. It is utterly engaging. If you long for Mid World and to know how our Earth became the world that moved on, then there are further clues within this book. The stories of Roland and the search for the Skin Man and of Tim and the Endless Forest are stunning and I was spellbound by the way that the author wrapped one inside the other.
Like the original Gunslinger, I read this book in one sitting - rapt and utterly enchanted. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
on 22 August 2012
Big Dark Tower fan etc, but I knew (and so should you) before reading this that it wasn't really a new DT book, which actually I preferred because wouldn't it feel kind of odd to suddenly have a new piece of the story added in the middle of one you know and love so well? Ayuh it would. Anyway, the main "wind through the keyhole" story is a an old tale told by the people of mid-world, Roland tells his ka-tet the story of when he told the old tale to a little boy on one of his gunslinger missions before the fall of Gilead. For that reason it's almost a standalone story, it has no real bearing on anything that happens in the Dark Tower, it just happens in the same world, i.e. it has billy bumblers, a device of the old people, another incarnation of the man in black, and possibly, Maerlyn. I loved it, it's just the thing to quench your DT thirst for a short time. Thanks SK <3
on 3 May 2012
A story (The Wind through the Keyhole), within a story (Of a younger Roland being sent to deal with a skin-man, a shapeshifter) , within a story (of Roland and his Ka-tet) which is then itself within a story (The Dark Tower).
This really is a masterclass in the art of storytelling, and thereby writing.
There are so many subtle touches here, and again Mr King presents something which is really high art and beyond many of us, and makes it appear effortless (ars est celare artem).
A great read and highly enjoyable.
If you are into Stephen King's work more deeply this could also be seen as a companion piece to 'On Writing', as it absolutely demonstrates the craft detailed therein.
on 25 May 2012
I'm a massive Dark Tower fan and was so excited when I heard the next story was due out, I wondered whilst waiting how the story would continue given the ending, but hoped we might read more about the fall of Gilead, the breaking of his 1st ka-tet or at least Rolands younger years, so dissapointed greatly with the tale (but to be fair it was a good read, just not what i'd hope for) it is nicely summed up in the foreword that this book fit in between Wizards and Glass and Wolves of the Calla so your hopes are lowered. Still a good read but not really worthy of being touted as part of the Dark Tower series, yes it has Roland, Eddie, Susannah, jake and Oy but that's about it as far as moving the Dark Tower along.