Original publisher: Grant
Originally published: 1997 (Judgement Day!)
Yyyyyyep, this is perhaps my personal favourite installment of The Dark Tower bar none. Although The Wastelands well and truly kicked the ball high, The Wizard And Glass kicks that baby high into the sky and makes it sail like a damned comet of awesomeness with a flaming tail with no hint of slowing down.
One of the greatest assests of this book is that it finally delves into the early past of Roland Deschain, exploring his upbringing, his psychology and his training to become a Gunslinger as well as his intertwined past with that wascally wabbit Randall Flagg. Full of mythology, lore and legend, this book has topped the list of many other Dark Tower fans because of how liberally it embraces the concept of arcane and mysterious magics of bygones past or never have been as well as, get this, directly coinciding with Kings’ other work, most notably The Stand. Oh,but not only that, my lovely ka-tet! So audacious is King that he makes unveiled reference to The Wizard of Oz, but in such a way that not only feels true to L.Frank Baum’s dimension, but also to the domain that King has created and lovingly fostered. This book launches a tactical nuclear assault on the gentle readers’ senses due to it’s multi-layered incorporations of sorcery, heroism, enigmatic items of interest, dimensional chaos, soul-searching and good old-fashioned cultural barrier-breaking re-telling of classic bedtime stories.
Roland is given central stage in this novel, and it’s fantastic to see what makes our seemingly stoic Gunslinger really tick- gotta say, he’s had a bit of a messed up life. The familiar yet nonetheless compelling themes of love, intimacy, betrayal, heartbreak, cruel truths, forbidden knowledge and of course, epic battles that will be sure to stick in your memory like a tack in the foot- only, you know, far more pleasant. It should also be noted that King makes no attempt at hiding the numerous loving nods to Middle Earth and why should he? If you are going to be inspired by something, be inspired by nothing but the best, and that is what King has accomplished using his own distinctive vernacular and talent for telling an absorbing tale of fancy. A very dastardly character that I took to like gum to a shoe was the crazy horsebeast Rhea of the Coos, who is Kings’ inevitable equivalent of everybody’s favourite bipolar schizophrenic power sycophant, Gollum- there’s Cray-Cray then there is Rhea, believe me on that, kiddos.
I feel if I had to sum up what this book was all about, this certainly has more ties to high fantasy as we know it. It has all of the basic goodies that make up a worthy prose about a heroic quest that spans an epoch, but with Kings’ loving affection for the elclectic, this would not be the last time he made a cuddling reference to current creative licenses with a view to making the world of the Dark Tower… or the last time he would mention characters and events from his own novels. Here’s a hint- grizzled vampire slayer.
The Dark Tower is closer.