A lot of writers complain the hardest thing to do is start, and the rest will write itself. I have always found the opposite to be true; getting a story underway seems to come naturally, wrapping it up is where I have difficulty. And after reading the final book in The Dark Tower series I would say Stephen King might have the same issue. While it did wrap up the epic journey of Roland the gunslinger, it wasn’t completely satisfactory at least it wasn’t what I was expecting.
Warning: Spoiler Alert! In order to talk about anything in this book I must spoil what has come before it. If you have not read the first five books in this series, please do so before reading this review.
This book has a lot of loose ends to tie up and is a bit all-over the map. With that said, I will do my best to cover the basics and leave the finale up to your imagination.
The Dark Tower picks up where Song of Susannah left off. Jake and Father Callahan are facing off against the vampires and low men in the Dixie Pig. Father Callahan makes a sacrifice in order for Jake to make it out alive with Oy. Mia, now completely separated from Susannah, has baby Mordred, who is somehow the son of both Roland and The Crimson King. The baby transforms into a giant spider and kills and eats Mia. Susannah frees herself, shoots off one of Mordred’s legs and escapes where she later meets up with Jake.
Roland and Eddie make their way back to Thunderclap where they meet up with Jake, Susannah and Oy. The ka-tet joins forces with three escapees from Devar-Toi, a nearby camp where psychics are being used to break the final beams holding up the Dark Tower. Ted Brautigan, from King’s Heart’s in Atlantis, Dinky Earnshaw, from King’s Everything’s Eventual, and Roland’s old friend Sheemie Ruiz bring the ka-tet to a cave where they plan how to save the tower and free the breakers.
The group launchs an all-out assault on the camp, driving the breakers away from danger as they pick off the guards. When the camp is secured, The three psychics send Roland, Jake and Oy to Maine circa 1999 to save Stephen King. They arrive just in time to save King and even though he is hit by a car while out for a walk, he survives; just like in real life.
With the breakers no longer working on the beam and Stephen King safe, the Dark Tower is now safe from the Crimson King. Roland travels to New York where he speaks with the heads of the Tet Corporation before returning to Fedic. They tell Roland the Dark Tower is safe and he need not continue on his journey to it, but Roland insist he must complete his Quest.
Later, they arrive at the castle of the Crimson King. The King’s last servant attempts to stop Roland but to no avail. He tells Roland how the King has gone mad and killed himself so there is no way for Roland to kill since he is already dead. He also tells Roland that the King is locked out of the tower on a balcony and can never re-enter with out Roland’s guns. So if Roland stays away from the tower, there is no danger of it ever falling under the King’s control.
But of course Roland must finish his quest…
I have left a lot of stuff out of the review, believe it or not. The best way to say it is I have painted a picture of the final chapters with very broad strokes leaving out all of the fine details. I have done this so you can read the final book and draw your own conclusions.
Before I ever began this trek through the books, I knew many if not most people where not extremely happy with how the series wrapped up. King sets up an ending that could have served as the conclusion then explains that it is the journey, not the destination that is important. With that, he then finishes Roland’s saga with, well, an ending. Nothing grand and more than likely not what you would have liked to have seen, but it is an ending none the less.
As for me, I do not regret reading this series in the slightest. It may have seemed like a way to “cop-out” on the ending, but I’m glad King reminds us that it is the journey that matters. I have enjoyed reading the series, through the ups and downs. I’ve also enjoyed reading a lot of King’s other books that lead into the core story line. I have enjoyed traveling with Roland and his ka-tet through Outworld, Midworld and even variations of our world.
But now I’m stalling. I like the “happily ever after” ending most adult books lack; I’m a big kid that way. I thought the actual ending was… ok. Not great, not bad, just ok. My biggest issue is the way that King wrapped up all of the characters stories. I knew certain characters would not make it to the end, but the way in which some of them were written out was lack-luster to say the least. I was hoping for something more. In particular, the way in which the Crimson King was defeated just seemed like it was trumped up; as if King painted himself into a corner and the only way to finish the book was to pull something out of is ass.
Never the less, I still enjoyed this series immensely and plan on reading it again. My next article in fact will be my recommendations on the order in which to read the series. If you are a fan of sci-fi, I whole-heartedly recommend this series. With the exception of the end, which let me stress was not bad, just not everything I expected, the series is one of the best I’ve ever become involved with.
Optimusgene is the chief editor and founder of OneManAsylum.com. He is also the co-host of the Group Therapy weekly podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @optimusgene and on Google+ gplus.to/optimusgene.
Rating (1 - 5)
Optimusgene - 4
If you would like to purchase this, click the links below:
The day this review went up, I learned that "Book 8" of the Dark Tower series comes out on April 24. It is called The Wind Through the Keyhole and takes place between book 4, Wizard and Glass, and book 5, Wolves of the Calla.