Title: Wizard and Glass

Author: Stephen King

Hardback: 668 pages

Publisher: Plume (1997)

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About the Book (From Amazon.com Books):

Wizard and Glass, the fourth episode in King's white-hot Dark Tower series, is a sci-fi/fantasy novel that contains a post-apocalyptic Western love story twice as long. It begins with the series' star, world-weary Roland, and his world-hopping posse (an ex-junkie, a child, a plucky woman in a wheelchair, and a talking dog-like pet named Oy the Bumbler) trapped aboard a runaway train. The train is a psychotic multiple personality that intends to commit suicide with them at 800 m.p.h.--unless Roland and pals can outwit it in a riddling contest.

It's a great race, for the mind and pulse. Movies should be this good. Then comes a 567-page flashback about Roland at age 14. It's a well-marbled but meaty tale. Roland and two teen homies must rescue his first love from the dirty old drooling mayor of a post-apocalyptic cowboy town, thwart a civil war by blowing up oil tanks, and seize an all-seeing crystal ball from Rhea, a vampire witch. The love scenes are startlingly prominent and earthier than most romance novels (they kiss until blood trickles from her lip).

After an epic battle ending in a box canyon to end all box canyons, we're back with grizzled, grown-up Roland and the train-wreck survivors in a parallel world: Kansas in 1986, after a plague. The finale is a weird fantasy takeoff on The Wizard of Oz. Some readers will feel that the latest novel in King's most ambitious series has too many pages--almost 800--but few will deny it's a page-turner. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.



Bruceís Appraisal:

††††††††††† So Iím just starting to appreciate Eddie of New York and Susannah of New York and Jake of New York.Jake doesnít suffer from ďScrappy Doo Complex,Ē which had laid low so many would-be child protagonists over the years.Surprisingly, neither does Oy, the bumbler.It took time, almost a thousand pages of time, but Iím finally starting to enjoy these characters, despite their all-too-human (and all-too-believable) flaws. Weíre finally getting that momentum on the journey to the Dark Tower.

††††††††††† So what happens?Naturally, itís time for a prequel.

††††††††††† After a jaw-dropping battle of wits with Blaine the Mono, something that was every bit worth the wait between the novels of this series, it seems like our Dark Towers dreams are coming true.The heroes climb out of the wreckage of their last Luddite encounter only to find themselves in a place disturbingly familiar to Stephen King fans around the world. Pieces begin to fall into place regarding the scope of this series and the extent to which the disintegration at the center of all worlds is impacting what we know and love.Sure, itís fiction, but many readers grew up sharing Stephen Kingís worlds; to have them all collapse together is a catastrophe that feels much more real than we tell ourselves it is.

††††††††††† So then the prequel hits.Itís time to palaver.

††††††††††† I kicked.

††††††††††† I screamed.

††††††††††† And then something else, happened.I found that I loved the characters in the past.In fact, by the end of the flashback, when time shifted again to Kansas in 1986, I found that I had difficulty remembering that other guy who made jokes when he was nervous and carried a wooden slingshot.That other woman named Susan who was carrying a baby in secret from her lover.The prequel tale of Wizard and Glass sucked me and blew me away at the same time.It was that good.

††††††††††† It was so good, in fact, that I had trouble reading more than twenty or thirty pages at a sitting.It took forever to read this story!I came to love these characters so intensely that it was as if they were my own friends.And the knowledge that something horrible was about to befall at least one of themósomething so awful that it has been foreshadowed in almost every scene of the three books preceding this oneóloomed over every page I turned.It has been years since Iíve been this engrossed in a novel.It blew away House of Leaves, surpassed Lord of Chaos and Marked for Death.Wizard and Glass is every bit as good as the Stephen King epic it riffs on, and it never pales in comparison when it also riffs on another American classic that happens to be set in Kansas.

††††††††††† From the five words that changed Rolandís life to the searing images that could only be shared through the wavering vision of spilling tears, this story delivers everything weíve needed from the very beginning, even if we didnít realize it.Gunslingers in action, a world that was moving on but hadnít wholly moved on, young love, true heroism, and, to truly show those things, all of the petty and malignant evils that devils and hobgoblins could never really understand, the ones that can only be borne of a human heart.Bad guysóNo, not bad guys, these were villainsóSome of the ones I expected to survive met their delicious just desserts while others live to haunt another volume, and I canít wait to see justice dealt upon them. And, ultimately, we fully understand Rolandís reaction upon meeting Sheb in the doomed town of Tull.Further, another piece locks into place that begins to underscore much more clearly Rolandís decision to go for Walter at the end of The Gunslinger.

††††††††††† The Dark Tower has hit its stride.I returned to Eddie, Susannah, Jake and Oy reluctantly, but in the brief, three score pages spent with them at the end of the novel I fell back in love with them.And now, with enough mysteries solved to keep the still-unraveling ones compelling, Iím turning on the last three volumes of the series with bated breath.You must read this, too.