Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Dark Tower Nine: Roland Crying Off The Tower

These are, merely, my speculations and impressions of Stephen King's beloved Epic series about a gunslinging pilgrim searching for a jutting, soot-colored tower which serves as the hub of all reality. I speak, of course, of the Dark Tower.

After finishing 2004's "The Dark Tower 7: The Dark Tower", my mind began to reel with all the untold stories that should come afterward. I hadn't been surprised that Stephen King announced in 2009 that he would be opening another doorway into Mid-world. I was, however, surprised, although still very pleased, that Stephen King had decided to place that new novel, "The Dark Tower: Wind Through The Keyhole" in between "The Dark Tower 4: Wizard And Glass" and "The Dark Tower 5: Wolves Of The Calla".

Stephen King Writes on his website: StephenKing.com


At some point, while worrying over the copyedited manuscript of the next book (11/22/63, out November 8th), I started thinking—and dreaming—about Mid-World again. The major story of Roland and his ka-tet was told, but I realized there was at least one hole in the narrative progression: what happened to Roland, Jake, Eddie, Susannah, and Oy between the time they leave the Emerald City (the end of Wizard and Glass) and the time we pick them up again, on the outskirts of Calla Bryn Sturgis (the beginning of Wolves of the Calla)?

There was a storm, I decided. One of sudden and vicious intensity. The kind to which billy-bumblers like Oy are particularly susceptible. Little by little, a story began to take shape. I saw a line of riders, one of them Roland’s old mate, Jamie DeCurry, emerging from clouds of alkali dust thrown by a high wind. I saw a severed head on a fencepost. I saw a swamp full of dangers and terrors. I saw just enough to want to see the rest. Long story short, I went back to visit an-tet with my friends for awhile. The result is a novel called The Wind Through the Keyhole. It’s finished, and I expect it will be published next year.

Although I did notice a gap in between the two books, I was expecting an eighth book to follow Roland doing what had only been implied in DT-7. You could have expected some spoilers and here, I will not disappoint you. In the last novel, Roland reaches his Dark Tower after slaying the Crimson King on his balcany. He climbs a spiral staircase lined with vignettes from his long life. He believes that the tower would stretch upward forever and then, it ends. He opens the door at the top of the tower and remembers that he's won the top of the tower over and again.
"Oh, god. Not again." Roland cries as the Ka brings him back to the sprawling desert of "The Dark Tower 1: The Gunslinger"

Stephen King, the human writer, could has done his duty, if such duty exists, to his constant readers. He said, "This man will go to this place" and then King brought him to that place. He even suggested that the story might go now beyond the last page, sparking the reader's imagination. Stephen King, the character, still has work to do. One can't do it without the other. I got the impression that "Roland's Tower" wasn't "Roland's Tower." The Tower can be possessed by no one, neither Roland nor The Crimson King. I got the impression that Ka's wheel wished Roland to save the beams, slay the Crimson King and finally, walk onward to live life after the tower. Before the announcement, I imagined, and still imagine, the untold story of a harsher, harder Roland gun Patrick Danville down in a haze of grief and anger. A harsher man who had lost Susannah to another world and lost Oy to the murderous, but lonesome Mordred could have easily pulled out one of those old revolvers with the Saddlewood grips and plugged Patrick down, just to lighten his load and punish the young man who aided Susannah to leave. The implications of this is obvious. If a harsher man made that trip, the Crimson King would have won the door at the top of the tower. I, also, imagined a less harsh, more kind Roland accompanying Patrick away from the tower. This is how I imagine a ninth Dark Tower book going.

The last of the DT novels was over 1000 pages and many of the other books aren't much shorter, so I'm not suggesting that Stephen King squeezes all seven into one giant book just to have Roland walk away. King would have to do it a full three times if he were to go that route. Roland coming to the tower the first time, the prequel. Roland coming this time, the current series. Roland coming to the tower the lst time, the series I'm hoping will come. I almost think that King could accomplish this task with a short stories. A quick flashback of the journey before and the battle with the Crimson King and then lastly, Roland truning away and helping Patrick gather up the scattered food cans.

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