The Dark Tower: The Waste Lands

Reviewed: December 13, 2005
By: Stephen King
Publisher: Signet Books
608 pages, $10.99

My continuing re-read of The Dark Tower saga has taken me through the Waste Lands. In book three of the series, Roland the Gunslinger is suffering from the effects of having changed history. Two sets of memories are colliding in his brain and driving him crazy. The same thing is happening in our world to Jake, the young boy who died in Roland’s Mid-World during the first book, but whose original death in his own world was forestalled when, in the second book,Roland eliminated his killer before it happened. Most of this story is about how Roland, Eddie and Susannah find a way to bring Jake across to Mid-World, thus resolving the temporal confusion and setting them all back on the trail towards the tower.

There is a generous mixing of material in this book, including references to Richard Adams's Shardik, some classic childrens’ literature, and hints of H.P. Lovecraft style monsters. There’s a devastated city that would put the works of John Carpenter to shame, and an outrageous cliffhanger at the end of the story which leaves our quartet at the mercy of a mad monorail named Blaine. I recall how annoyed I was when I first reached the end of this book in 1991. This time I was able to move right on to the next volume, a much more satisfying experience.