Friday, August 24, 2012

Wolves of the Calla - Stephen King

    2003; 925 freakin' pages.  Book 5 of “The Dark Tower” series.  New Author? : No.  Genre : Fantasy.  Overall Rating :  8*/10.

    The wolves are coming!  Riding horses and forcibly taking one of every set of twins in Calla Bryn Sturgis.  And when they’re done with their hostages, they return the kids to the farming town as drooling idiots.

    Since almost all births in Calla Bryn Sturgis are sets of twins, this is a dire situation.  As Luck would have it (or is it Fate?) Roland and his ka-tet are passing nearby.  Perhaps they can be persuaded to fight for the farmers.  Perhaps this time, no children have to be sacrificed.

 What’s To Like…
    As always, Stephen King spins a gripping story, filled with twists, details, and fascinating new characters.  Here, our four gunslingers become Magnificent Seven-type stand-ins, organizing the defense of the town, and training the farmers (and their wives) to show some spine.  But it’s also an opportunity for Roland’s apprentice gunslingers to do some growing.

    There are a ton of threads.  Some – such as who are the wolves, why do they only take one of the twins, and why do they lobotomize them – are answered in the story.  Some – such as Susannah getting another personality and what 19 or 99 portend – are left dangling.  Some – such as muffin balls and the commala – are just there for the reader’s enjoyment.

    The setting hops back and forth from the New York City of our world to Calla Bryn Sturgis of Roland’s.  It works smoothly.  The story builds to an exciting and satisfying climax.  Yeah, it’s also a cliffhanger ending, but that’s par for the Stephen King course in this series.

Kewlest New Word…
Anomie : A lack of the usual social or ethical standards in an individual or group.
    (T)ime had likewise begun to soften.  There were days Eddie could have sworn were forty hours long, some of them followed by nights (like the one on which Roland had taken them to Mejis) that seemed even longer.  Then there would come an afternoon when it seemed you could almost see darkness bloom as night rushed over the horizon to meet you.  Eddie wondered if time had gotten lost.  (pgs. 45-6)
    Once before, the gunslinger had stood on this stage and danced the commala and won their hearts.  Did Tian doubt that Roland would win their hearts again?  In truth, Tian did not.  What he was afraid of in his heart was that this time it would be a death-dance instead of a life-dance.  Because death was what this man and his friends were about; it was their bread and wine.  It was the sherbet they took to clear their palates when the meal was done.  (pg. 784)

"(F)irst the smiles, then the lies.  Last comes gunfire."  (pg. 768)
      If Wizard and Glass (Book IV) was a humongous back-story, Wolves of The Calla (Book V) is an even longer side-story.  And as good of a tale as this is, you have to ask yourself why Roland and his ka-tet  go off on an adventurous tangent for a whole month while the fate of the Dark Tower (and the world) hangs in the balance.  Entertaining it is.  Logical it ain’t.
    I enjoyed Wolves of The Calla.  It kept my attention for 925 pages, and that’s a testimony to Stephen King’s storytelling skills.  But Books 6 and 7 are not on my TBR shelf, and I’m thinking it’s time for me to part ways with this series.  8 Stars if you read it as a stand-alone.  Subtract 2 stars if you were expecting to see any progress in the Great Quest.

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