Book 3 – Wizard And Glass by Stephen King – Finished 22/01/14 – SPOILER HEAVY REVIEW

Wizard And Glass continues the story of Roland and his ka-tet who, at the end of The Wastelands were trapped aboard murderous monorail Blaine, hurtling towards death if they cannot outwit Blaine in a game of riddles. The story continues as the ka-tet escape Blaine and Roland finally opens up about his past before, in some other-world version of Kansas, the group reaches the Green Palace and come face to face with Marten, now going by the name Flagg. In order that they may continue their journey, Roland shares another secret of his past and the ka-tet continue ever onwards towards the Dark Tower. That’s a very very basic version of the plot of this sprawling epic of a book. Now for the bits that really stood out.

So many things were great about this book:

The realisation that upon escaping Blaine the ka-tet have arrived in the world decimated by The Stand’s Captain Tripps flu virus. I read The Stand a while back because I’d read somewhere else that Randall Flagg also featured in The Dark Tower, so I wanted to know more about the character before I started the series. It was strange and good to think of Roland travelling through that same land as all the survivors of the flu, drawn to either Flagg or Mother Abagail.

Roland’s backstory. I’ve been intrigued for a long time about the Gunslinger’s history. Up until now there have been mere glimpses, and Roland seems so changed (damaged?) by what happened that I always wanted to know what had happened, and in this book King provides this narrative in great depth. Cuthbert and Alain are brilliant characters, and I found myself dreading the latter stages of the story, as I was convinced they would end up dead, knowing that in the main narrative Roland is with a different ka-tet, in which these two characters do not feature. By this books conclusion though we still don’t know what became of either of them, so there’s still some mystery to be resolved.
I loved the scene where they intervened on behalf of Sheemie against the Big Coffin Hunters. Talking of them – great villains, and in this category Susan’s aunt deserves an honorary mention too – what an awful woman. Equally as vile – Rhea of the Coos, the old witch who becomes enslaved by the Wizard’s Glass and eventually orchestrates Susan’s murder. King does know how to write a good (or bad) villain.

The battle of Eyebolt Canyon. I was so engrossed in the story by this time that I almost felt I was there with Roland, Cuthbert and Alain as they led Latigo’s men in a chase into the box canyon, from which there would be no escape. The conclusion of that scene, Roland looking down on the men trapped between the fire at the mouth of the canyon and the thinny, which devours all that goes near it, was really good.

The awful way Roland realised he had been tricked by the Wizard’s Glass into leaving Susan vulnerable, and the torment of watching her burned alive by her crazed aunt and evil witch Rhea, unable to intervene to save his love, and feeling all the while that it’s his fault it is happening.

The whole Wizard Of Oz interlude and the confrontation with the Tick Tock Man and Roland’s oldest enemy Marten. Also, the way we realise that Marten is now going by the name Flagg. Sound familiar? (I was glad I’d already read The Stand). The combining of worlds again. King has a knack for this, including settings/characters from his other works, which I always feel draws you in and makes you want to read that book too, if you haven’t already.

The final reveal that Roland unwittingly murdered his own mother. I found it incredibly sad, the way he was tricked into believing she was Rhea, and only at the last minute realising that actually she had made him a belt as a peace-offering, and that she died smiling, killed by her own husbands guns in the hands of her son. So sad!

I can’t wait to see what else lies in store for the ka-tet as they venture on towards the Tower.  Rating – 5/5

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Is It Friday Again Already?

1. I’ve started borrowing downloadable audio books from the library. I can listen to them whilst doing my cross stitching, which is really relaxing. The first one I borrowed was a bit of a letdown, because it just wasn’t a story that captured me at all, so I returned it and tried something else, which I’m now really enjoying, so I can see this becoming a regular thing.

2. I gave up watching Elementary. I watched the first few episodes, but it got quite samey, so when I found out there were 6 dvds in the series I decided to quit before I’d invested too much time and felt obliged to watch the whole lot. I started season 2 of Revenge instead; have only watched the first ep, but I think I’ll stick with it. Also saw a trailer for Once Upon A Time. I have no idea how I’ve never seen this series because it looks like something I would really be into, so I may get that next.

3. I’m still reading Wizard And Glass. It’s a great story. I love Cuthbert and Alain, and am so involved with their story that every so often it suddenly hits me that it mustn’t end well for them, as Roland is telling his new ka-tet the story of his past, and Cuthbert and Alain are no longer around. Not good.

4. I need some work doing on my car. I’ve shopped around for prices, and have gone from almost £700 to £260!! How can that even be?!?! It’s mad – the same car, the same work, and yet such a massive difference in price. I must admit, when that first price estimate came through my heart sank a little, so I was very pleased to get the lower estimate.

5. Despite the freezing cold and pouring rain I ventured down to the greenhouse to see how the plants in there are getting on. I have a potted hydrangea and was really pleased to see it’s got fresh green shoots already. Everything else looks healthy too. Urgh, I really hate not being able to mess around in the garden. I will be so glad when the winter weather is done with and the nights start drawing out again.

A Thing For Bowie And King

Back again for another long-overdue attempt at a journal entry. I really don’t mean to leave it so long between writings, but somehow it always happens. I thinks it’s because there’s not that much new to report.

Am still very much into all things David Bowie and am getting quite a collection of his albums now. I was really surprised to find out my boss is actually a massive fan. We were talking about his music, and the albums I’ve got, and he offered to loan me his copies of some of the ones I don’t have yet. Of all the things I expected, bonding with C over David Bowie was actually pretty low down the list! It makes me smile, thinking about it, because we’ve not really had that much common ground before. I’m pretty envious that he’s been to a fair few Bowie concerts (is it concerts, or gigs? I have no idea?!) over the years.
The album I’m listening to at the moment is Diamond Dogs. I love it. I read that some of the songs were intended for a musical version of 1984, but that it never happened. I think that’s a great shame, because the songs are so good, I’m sure there would have been a place for a show like that. Still, at least we get the, on this album. It’s also made me think I really should get around to reading 1984, because I’ve had it sitting on my shelves for years and yet I never seem to get around to it.

I read two really good books. The first was Police by Jo Nesbo. The latest in the Harry Hole series picks up after Phantom, which was a bit confusing because over here the first book in the series, The Bat, was released in between Phantom and Police, so it’s been a very long time since I read Phantom and I couldn’t recall it all that well.
That didn’t take away from my enjoyment of Police though and I was soon totally engrossed in it. Police are being murdered at the scenes of old unsolved crimes, and Harry Hole has to take on the role of investigator again to help catch the killer before any more murders are committed. It’s fast paced, and keeps you guessing until almost the very end.

The second book I really enjoyed was Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. I recently read The Shining, in preparation for this sequel, and was glad that I did. I think you could probably read Doctor Sleep without having read The Shining first, but I do think you get a better understanding of Dan and how he’s been affected by his childhood, which also gives the ending a little more impact. I won’t say more because I don’t want to give anything away. It’s a good read.

Am still on a Stephen King season, having now started reading The Dark tower. I read the first book, The gunslinger, about a year ago. I don’t know why I didn’t carry on with the series then, I suppose I got sidetracked with something else, but anyway, I decided to reread the Gunslinger before moving on. I’m now reading The Drawing Of The Three. I’m really enjoying reading how Roland and Eddie first meet, and Odetta/Detta is an interesting character too.

I’ve packed up most of my garden things now, for the winter. I’m looking forward to getting started with my next lot of seed planting, because now I have the greenhouse and everything is there ready and waiting, I’ll have much more time in which to grow my plants. I was very late starting this year, having to get the garden sorted out before I could get my greenhouse. Still, what I did grow turned out okay and gave me some confidence about what I’m doing.