Some readers have considered this book a detour or basically filler material on the quest to the Dark Tower. I disagree. While the majority of the action takes place off the direct path of the beam, the ka-tet is still focused on that goal. And, this story shows them building (and sometimes even tearing down) their relationship.
From Amazon: “Roland Deschain and his ka-tet are bearing southeast through the forests of Mid-World on their quest for the Dark Tower. Their path takes them to the outskirts of Calla Bryn Sturgis. But beyond the tranquil farm town, the ground rises to the hulking darkness of Thunderclap, the source of a terrible affliction that is stealing the town’s soul. The wolves of Thunderclap and their unspeakable depredation are coming. To resist them is to risk all, but these are odds the gunslingers are used to. Their guns, however, will not be enough….”
You see every generation or so the Wolves of Thunderclap come into the Calla and steal one child out of each set of twins (most children born are twins). The twin who is taken is sent back after a time but is ROONT. My granny used to say this word but I always thought it was Ruren’t. Either way, it means the same thing. They aren’t right in the head. And, they grow to giant size and then die early. The people of the Calla are afraid to fight the Wolves due to their strength and the fact that they could destroy the entire town. One brave father decides it is time to take a stand and the local preacher, Father Callahan, tells him that there are gunslingers headed their way who may be able to help.
I loved everything about this installment. Roland is feeling his age (he doesn’t and we don’t know his age given that time is so soft but it’s safe to say he is OLD.) “The arthritis” is starting to get to him and he is questioning his own judgment in decisions he made (specifically about Susannah). Oh Susannah, I can’t give too much away but hers is probably the ultimate heart of this story. She fights so hard…
Jake grows up even more and has to make some tough decisions of his own. Eddie becomes more of a true gunslinger with each installment and he showed his worth during this fight.
One of the things that is so special about King’s novels is that he ties everything together. Father Callahan is actually the same Father Callahan from Salem’s Lot. We learn about his life and struggles as he becomes a part (temporary?) of the ka-tet. King’s own name even makes an appearance at a bookstore visited during Todash (or was it through the black glass ball?)
5/5 stars for one of my favorite books so far this year. Ready for “Song of Susannah” and then, finally, “The Dark Tower”. So excited!