Almost exactly half way through the Dark Tower Series is a story that may be the pinnacle of this epic work, and at the same time may also be the most elegant, beautifully written, romantic, and horrible thing Stephen King has ever created. I’m talking about the love story of Roland of Gilead and Susan Delgado, which occupies Part Three of Wizard and Glass, Book 4 of the Dark Tower Series.
I know not everyone likes this book; some find it off the point, just background, not in the same style as the rest of King’s work. Here King does write in a style that is old world, a little reminiscent of Tolkien. He knows he’s presenting the stuff of legends and wants his tone to fit the task. He’s done what he said he set out to do when he started writing the Dark Tower, creating a world that is all his own, where the language, the customs, the setting, the confluence of old and new details, even the religions are of his own making. In the end, (IMHO) this story is the best blend of western novel and post-apocalyptic science fiction ever written.
King also said he wanted to write a romance, and he’s sure done it here. The love story of Roland and Susan is passionate, riveting, and I can’t say any more or I’d give the ending away. But speaking of that ending, it is what it has to be in this kind of story. Susan, Roland, King, and all of the rest of us are drawn inexorably to it whether we like it or not. STORY has always been supreme for King, and in this case I feel at least that in telling of Roland and Susan, Stephen King has written his most powerful, in fact his supreme story.
Now part 3 is about 350 pages in the middle of a 700-page work. What about the rest of the book? Fits right in with the rest of the Dark Tower, I think. Parts 1 and 2 are a good continuation of the adventure from the previous book. Part 4 though, is a little overdone, almost too much homage to the Wizard of Oz. There’s more details about what happened back in Roland’s youth which comes close to wrapping up all the loose ends. Still, it doesn’t measure up to the love story. How could it? Almost nothing else King has written does either.