Monday, 31 March 2014

Wizard and Glass - Stephen King


Although Wizard and Glass is the forth installment of Stephen King's Dark Tower series, it's actually more a back-story to Roland Deschain's life than a continuation of the overall tale. While Roland is sat around a campfire in a strange 'weak spot' between universes, he tells his companions of his first adventure as an anointed gunslinger and of Susan - the first and last love of his long, lonely life.

It's a story of honour and hardship, where Roland and his childhood friends Alain and Cuthbert desperately try to prove that they're true gunslingers in a world that is falling apart and sliding into decadence. But they're still little more than children and soon realise that they're out of their depth as they're caught in the schemes of men who are turning their backs on the Affiliation to side with John Farson - the so called Good Man and leader of the rebels that are bringing what remains of civilisation to its knees . . .

The Good
One of the best things about Wizard and Glass is being able to see Roland as a young teenager. He's not yet the cold and brutal killer he becomes in later life and is still full of youthful wonders and uncertainty. It's also interesting to read about how he's desperate to prove himself in the eyes of his friends and his father, which underlies many of his choices and actions.

I also especially enjoyed reading about Cuthbert and Alain, who've both been mentioned in previous books as Roland's oldest friends. Both boys feature prominently in the book and King has managed to write in a comfortable friendship where each knows and trusts in the abilities of the others. This really adds to their camaraderie and the concept that they've been training as gunslingers together for their whole lives.

Roland's back story is also pretty good overall, being exciting at the end and showing that he's already capable of killing and commiting the terrible acts he will come to do in later life. King also explains how he came to find out about the Dark Tower and why he's been seeking it with the single-mindedness of a madman ever since.

The Bad
Unfortunately, Wizard and Glass is a very slow book and is filled with a lot of waffle that doesn't really need to be in there. There are pages and pages filled with people talking and walking around and nothing much actually happens until the very end of the book. This is a shame really because it drags the story out and means that it's quite boring in places. It's definitely the least interesting of the Dark Tower books, despite the glimpse it gives into Roland's mysterious past.

My Thoughts
Overall though, Wizard and Glass is a good book. I enjoyed reading it (for the most part) and am glad that we've learnt a bit more about Roland's past - as well as finding out why he's seeking the Dark Tower! I'm definitely looking forward to the story progressing again in Wolves of the Calla and am hoping that it'll be back up to scratch and be a bit more exciting!

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