Sunday, March 30, 2008

WIZARD AND GLASS by Stephen King

Wizard and Glass is the fourth novel in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. It picks up precisely where The Waste Lands left off – with the riddling contest with Blaine the mono. This resolution is not completely satisfying, as it borrows noticeably from The Hobbit, down to specific riddles. But it gets the job done. The character then visit King’s own The Stand, then The Wizard of Oz. All of this feels somewhat derivative, and the reader gets the feeling that King is just making it up as he goes (which he likes to do).

The bulk of the novel, however, does not focus on these things. Rather, Roland tells a 500+ page story about his youth, a fantasy, post-apocalyptic western story full of teenage sex and hormones. There’s some attempt at mystery that doesn’t quite work, as there’s just too much sitting around, although the action scenes, when they come, are well done. We get more Cuthbert and Alain, and that’s a good thing. This story is interesting when it gets going, but it’s often slow-paced, and drags at times.

Wizard and Glass does little to advance the overall storyline. Instead, it gives the reader the formative experience of Roland’s life. And this is just fine.