The Waste Lands by Stephen King

Roland, the Last Gunslinger, is moving ever closer to the Dark Tower, which haunts his dreams and nightmares. Pursued by the Ageless Stranger, he and his friends follow the perilous path to Lud, an urban wasteland. And crossing a desert of damnation in this macabre new world, revelations begin to unfold about who – and what – is driving him forward.

A blend of riveting action and powerful drama, The Waste Lands leaves readers breathlessly awaiting the next chapter.

And the Tower is closer…

the-waste-landsI’m continuing my re-read of the Dark Tower series and I’m now up to book three. I’ve said in the previous reviews that I love this series (why would I re-read it otherwise?), so expect me to say good things again about this one. While King once again expands the universe he’s created, the central story of Roland and his quest to the Dark Tower is still very much the focus of the journey.

We pick up once again where we left off in The Drawing of the Three: Roland, Eddie and Susannah have left the beach behind and are recovering and bonding in the more habitable forest area beyond it. While Eddie and Susannah are growing closer by the day, Roland is suffering in private with two sets of memories. Both Eddie and Susannah know that something is wrong but have learnt that Roland will tell them his problem when he’s ready. With both lots of memories stemming from the day he met Jake in The Gunslinger (one where he met him, one where he didn’t), his actions while in the head of Jack Mort during which he stopped Jake dying (and therefore his meeting of him never took place) have left him in a confused state.

Eddie is still letting his brother’s past influence and comments to him affect him. He doubts himself and struggles when he knows he must do something that Henry would rip into him about. Roland sees this and tries to tell Eddie that he must leave the past behind and be his own man now, but this is easier said than done. Susannah is starting to adjust to being one person, a combination of Detta Walker and Odetta Holmes, and she starts to move on with her life as Susannah Dean. We also follow Jake and start to see some very interesting things in his world. He too suffers from the two sets of memories and cannot help but look for a way back to Roland’s world. He comes across many things that are completely strange, yet oddly familiar, that feel right to him.

It’s the journey that leads to the rejoining of Roland and Jake that is the focus of much of this story, but they also travel to an old and decrepit city – Lud – where this part of their journey must end, though not without action and drama in equal amounts.

For me, the best parts of The Waste Lands are those that look at the group of Roland, Eddie, Susannah and, after a while, Jake. Not only that, but the individual character developments are a great aspect of the story. Eddie and Jake are by far the best results of this development, with Eddie just edging into the lead. The way his character has developed from when we first met him in The Drawing of the Three is pretty impressive, although he has kept that core essence that makes him so likable. Jake has grown considerably simply because of the amount of page time he has had here, all of which goes to show that investing effort in a character works very well to help bring the story to life.

I also liked the way that King has expanded that universe to show more of what has happened and what the world is like now. It’s the glimpses of past glories that really make it worthwhile and gives us the depth that was needed. Lud is a perfect example and we see first hand how the world has moved on, the split in society leading to conflict and stupidity on the part of those that live there. If I had one criticism of The Waste Lands it would be the ending – the cliffhanger is just cruel! But it does the one thing it should do – it makes you want to pick up the next book pretty sharpish!

So, a good continuation of the story with some new aspects and information makes The Waste Lands a fresh step in the series. It’s got everything we know and love from the previous Dark Tower books and has added enough to the pot to make the next volume one to pick up. Recommended.

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