Originally published: 1991
Original Publisher: Sphere Books
Okay, NOW we are cooking with gas, sports fans!
The third installment to ‘The Dark Tower‘ can confidently be called the book of which things really start to shake. After a modest first and second chapter, ‘The Wastelands’ illustrates the travels Roland and his ka-tet venturing towards the perilous realm of Lud, a terrible never-never that stands as yet another obstacle for the Gunslinger and his crew to reach the fabled Dark Tower and to prevent The Man In Black from having his horrid way with it. Think of Lud as partly the wastes of ‘Mad Max’ and the aftermath of Judgement Day. Filled to the brim with indescribable horrors, Roland must force himself and his ka-tet through it, but doing so will not be easy.
The path is treacherous, winding and cruel; vicious mutants with a taste for sweet human meat, inter-dimensional havoc, wandering demons looking to torment and enslave anybody who dares comes their way, rampant technology and unforeseen revelations about the past haunt Roland and his group, but as they find out, the very worst is yet to come. Considering the book starts out with a fateful encounter with a rabid cybernetic bear infected with parasitic maggots, ‘The Wastelands’ wastes no time in showing you what a ride you are in for in the next few hundred pages. King further explores the world of Roland by presenting you with a world of nothingness in stark contrast to all of the action that occurs.
As per usual, I am loathe to discuss spoilers, but needless to say, The Gunslinger and his ka-tet are put through an emotional and physical wringer that only compounds their own personal insecurities. A constant theme of this story is the sensation of over-whelming oppression, the numerous degrees of isolation and seemingly impossible odds being leveled against one soul. The physical world of Lud is but an expression of how the ka-tet are feeling at any given time, and considering the nature of each party involved, Lud sees them as a delicious challenge to break.However, even in the most darkest of hours, there is salvation- what is it you ask? Well, the best way for me to answer that is to entreat you to read this for yourself… just in case you haven’t already.
‘The Wastelands’ is a thoroughly relentless powerhouse because it throws the gauntlet down while simultaneously slapping the characters and the reader smartly across the face. The book could be the equivalent to an abusive relationship, but The Dark Tower hasn’t even gotten to the Explosion stage, but it’s a necessary evil to ensure compulsive and compliant reading. Dare I say, ‘The Wastelands’ may very well change your mind about locomotive travel by them time you finally put this book down out of breath and waiting for more. Although my personal favourite book is yet to come, the wonderfully hostile nature of ‘The Wastelands’ still lands choice kicks to your imagination but you can’t make yourself back away and reassess the situation- you need to keep going; you just cannot help yourself.
The Dark Tower is closer.
You gotta keep chug-chug-chuggin’
Note: In no way did I mean to romantacize what it’s like to be in an abusive relationship. That is an entirely different matter that is no laughing matter.