Friday, 5 September 2014

Wolves of the Calla - Stephen King


Lying in a sheltered valley on the outer edge of Mid-World is Calla Bryn Sturgis, a quiet farming town that was forgotten by civilisation even when Gilead still stood and gunslingers policed the world in force. The valley is beautiful and serene, but it's overshadowed by Thunderclap - a towering mountain that is forever under storm and serves as the home for terrible evil.

Once every few generations, the Wolves ride forth from Thunderclap and sweep through the valley. Clad in green and riding grey horses, they are child snatchers and take one from each pair of prepubescent twins (which are the normal method of giving birth for the folken). The children are taken to the mountain and are changed there, returning months later as adults with simple minds and youthful natures.

When Andy, a robotic relic from the world before it moved on, foretells another coming of the Wolves, the denizens of Calla Bryn Sturgis decide that they've finally had enough and will not so willingly allow their children to be taken. But what can simple farmers do to resist such evil when their hands have only ever held hoes and churned soil? They can look to the ka-tet of gunslingers that have wandered into their lands for aid . . . but will Roland turn aside from his path to the Dark Tower?

The Good
Wolves of the Calla is as well written as any of the books in The Dark Tower and Stephen King has gone all out in creating a rich town and developing the lives and cultures of the farmers that live there. Calla Bryn Sturgis is like something plucked straight out of the historical Wild West as it was in real life and King has really managed to capture airs of anger and sadness about the evil of their children being stolen.

The book is also in 'real time' again and actively continues the series, which I really enjoyed. I did like Wizard and Glass, but the story of Roland's past went on for a bit too long and the quest for the Dark Tower barely advanced through the entire book! I think this would have been better as a companion to the series (like The Wind Through the Keyhole is) and it was nice to have the story moving forward again!

The Bad
Simply put, Wolves of the Calla started to get a bit weird and I feel that King is starting to over do the references to real life. I'm not going to give any examples since they would be spoilers, but you'll know what I mean when (and if) you read the book. King has begun to try too hard in his efforts to link the series with everything and his references to our world are becoming forced and over exaggerated now and are losing the subtly he had in the earlier books.

Other parts of the book began to get a little strange as well, with Susannah's storyline being the main culprit. I always felt that Susannah was one of the best characters of the series, but her scenes were a little cringing and convenient. Sadly, I think this trend is going to continue into the next book and I just hope King tones it down a bit!

My Thoughts
Without giving away spoilers, I can only say that Wolves of the Calla was a little strange and was slightly below the standard of the other books in The Dark Tower series. King has tried too hard to link events and characters to real life and the story does have a slightly 'cheap' feel to it in places. That being said, I still enjoyed the book and I'm looking forward to reading Song of Susannah.

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