I’m doing the Dark Tower series on audio. I’ve been slowly working my way through them and for some reason the audio helps when it’s been months and months since listening to the last one. King also does a great job of summarizing what’s happened so far without retelling the entire story. The only downside is not seeing how certain words are spelled so forgive me for any errors.
If you haven’t read the series, there are about to be spoilers. You have been warned.
The tl;dr review: Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake and Oy continue on the Beam to the Tower. They need to protect the Rose in NYC but can’t figure out how to get there and back. The Beam brings them to a township that needs help. Father Callahan from Salem’s Lot has Black Thirteen which will take them to NYC. While they are in the town they need to help save the children. Susannah is pregnant with a demon child and doesn’t know because her mind has created a new personality to protect the Chap.
The full review:
The book opens in Calla Bryn Sturgis, a small township that is plagued by the Wolves. Every generation or so, they descend on the town and take the children. Almost all of the children are twins and after being taken, they are returned to the town a few days later. One from each set is now roont, the Wolves having taken something from their minds. They become giants, growing in agonizing pain and they all keep the minds of young children. The twin that is saved takes care of their brother or sister, hating the Wolves, but not knowing what to do. As the saved twins grow and have families of their own, they wonder if this is the year the Wolves will return to take their own twins.
When the story starts, they’ve been given warning that the Wolves are returning. The folk gather together to prepare to lose their children until one member decides to fight. This is when Father Callahan stands up at the meeting, letting them know Gunslingers are near.
Roland, Jake, Eddie, Susannah and, of course, Oy continue their journey along the Beam toward the tower. They worry about what’s happening in New York in the times of Jake, Eddie and Susannah. They fear for the Rose, knowing that it is protecting the Tower and that enemies are trying to destroy it. After going todash, a state of moving through time where you cannot affect what is happening but can see everything clearly, they realize they need to move quickly to protect it. As they try to figure out how to move back and forth from this world into their own, Father Callahan appears to let them know he has Black Thirteen, the wizard’s glass that will let them move through a Door. Black Thirteen is the evilest of all the rainbow bends. Callahan knows it will help the ka-tet, but even if they don’t want it, he will beg for them to take it away.
The two groups join together. Roland is weary to the point of being broken when he realizes the townsfolk want to be convinced that the Gunslingers can either be hired or convinced to leave. He has been through this many times and feels even more isolated from everyone, including the ka-tet. He is more depressing here because although they’re all growing closer and these are the people who now know him best, you can tell they will never truly understand him and he will always feel separate from everyone. It’s heartbreaking, especially because you’re not sure how much he will continue to sacrifice on his quest. Even worse, his body is starting to break down and he’s not sure how long he’ll even be capable of being a Gunslinger. Will ka even let him see the Tower?
When Callahan appears, I thought I was going to need to read Salem’s Lot, but happily, his story is retold (I’m not sure how much of it) and then goes on to show what happened to him after he left Maine. I really enjoyed this part of the book even though it at first seemed to have nothing to do with the Tower. However, because everything is connected and there is no coincidence in this world, I knew at some point it would circle back. I’d say that most of this book is Callahan’s story, which was weird. Actually, now that I think of it, this entire book is just a quick pause on the Beam. It’s not really Calla Bryn Sturgis’ story even though it’s what brings Black Thirteen to the Gunslingers. It’s more about Callahan and Black Thirteen and the Rose. Roland begins to wonder if Callahan has become part of the ka-tet and what his role is in the quest will be.
Even though there wasn’t as much devoted to the Calla and the Wolves, it worked really well. There was a tight timeline for how long the Gunslingers could stay and if ka will have the Wolves kill them and end their quest. Roland has realized that Susannah did become pregnant by the demon when they rescued Jake and brought him back through the door. Her mind has created Mia, daughter of none, to carry the Chap. Although he lets ka decide most things, he struggles with this information and doesn’t want to tell Eddie or Jake. When he does, they keep it from Susannah and aren’t sure if they should try to kill the child, or if that will cause Mia to kill Susannah.
The Calla bookends Callahan’s story and ends with a solid cliffhanger as Mia escapes to birth her Chap.