Wizard and Glass
Stephen King
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Get *Wizard & Glass* delivered to your door! The Dark Tower: Wizard & Glass
Stephen King
October 2003
752 pages
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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At last! Six years is a long time to wait between books in a series, even for notoriously patient fantasy readers. In this case, the continuing product is well worth the six years. Wizard and Glass is the fourth book of "The Dark Tower," and in addition to continuing the adventures of Roland and the ka-tet of Eddie, Susannah, Jake and Oy, it gives anxious "Dark Tower" readers much of the backstory of the stoic gunslinger's life.

Curled Up With a Good BookWizard and Glass opens in the Barony Coach of Blaine, the mad monorail. Blaine hurtles on in a suicide run that will end with the deaths of Roland and the others unless they can stump him in a game of riddles. Roland's vast store of Fair Day riddles cannot save them; neither can the book that Jake brought with him to Mid-World from his New York City. It will be the cutup of the ka-tet, Eddie Dean, who will defeat Blaine, with the very irreverence that Roland so mistrusts. Beginning a journey on foot in a Kansas subtly different from the one familiar to the three budding gunslingers drawn by Roland, the party seeking the Dark Tower sees instead a tower of glass sitting inarguably across the deserted interstate highway in the distance. Before they reach it, Roland feels that he must tell the others of how he came to be on this quest, of how he got started on the road that has brought him to this point. They all settle in around a fire for a long night of palaver to rival Roland's final meeting with the man in black.

Roland's tale begins with his defeat of his teacher, Cort, and with Roland's father sending the new gunslinger east with his two closest friends to keep the boy safe from Marten's deadly machinations. The boys are sent off from Gilead to the backwater barony of Mejis, ostensibly to count the taxable goods and property there. Their cover story is that they are three boys who got into a mischief serious enough for their fathers to send them on a busy-work mission of penitence. The boys are expected to find nothing untoward, but they do. They find horses in numbers greater than there ought to be, and crude oil in movable tankers from before the world moved on -- all secretly meant for the rebel forces of the Good Man, whose war threatens the future of the entire world, of all worlds. And it is in Mejis that Roland will meet Susan, the young woman whose love for him (and his for her) will haunt him to the ends of the changing world.

It would be the greatest cruelty to reveal any more of the story to those who have waited so long for this book. The greatest treat in Wizard and Glass is that the bulk of the book is taken up by Roland's story, which reads so much like traditional fantasy within the more darkly fantastic scope of "The Dark Tower" in general. This novel brings references that King readers have come to appreciate over time, references made mostly to other of King's novels and stories, most importantly to The Stand. Their are other archetypes rising to the surface like precipitates of society's subconscious, images from "The Wizard of Oz" chief among them. "The Dark Tower" is without a doubt King's most ambitious work, a story that examines the importance of mythology and questing for individual human beings. King says in the book's afterword that he expects the series to include at least three more books. That's a relief, considering how many he thought it would take when he first started writing Roland's story in 1970. Now all who avidly follow Roland's quest for the Dark Tower just have to hope that it isn't quite so long before the journey once again continues.

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