Title: The Waste Lands
Author: Stephen King
Page Count/Review Word Count: 584
The Waste Lands is the third book in Stephen King’s epic Dark Tower series, and so far it’s the one that I’ve enjoyed the least. It’s also the one that was the longest, so perhaps that has something to do with it. Either way, it’s hard to call, because the different books in this series are really just one long, interconnected saga; you can’t really have one without the others, and you can’t really read them out of order.
I should warn you here that if you haven’t read the first two books in this series then this review might contain spoilers. But spoilers are inevitable, because the story picks up directly after the ending of The Drawing of the Three, in which the gunslinger made new allies by pulling them into his world. Those same characters are here again, and they’re becoming gunslingers in their own rights; now Roland isn’t alone, and he has to continue to follow the path towards the mystical Dark Power with his newfound comrades.
It’s interesting, because King manages to answer a lot of questions here, but he also opens up just as many new ones. Even though I didn’t enjoy this as much as the first two books, and even though it was a long read with plenty of pages, I still can’t wait to get started on book number four, especially because this book ends on something of a cliffhanger.
I also like the way that King used riddles in both an abstract way – as part of the narrative – and in a tangible way, as a plot device. Riddles are commonplace throughout the story, and I liked the way that King would introduce you to one and then deliver the answer later on in the book; we also learn that Roland used to learn riddles as a child, and they’re required at the end for them to progress with their mission.
We also get to find out exactly what the Waste Lands are, and we’re reintroduced to some old characters and given a chance to meet a couple of new ones. It’s interesting, because I couldn’t help feeling like this book developed a bunch of the characters but didn’t really progress the plot too much. It’s a long old series, and I want to feel like I’m getting closer to the tower. While we did inch a little closer this time, it felt like we were moving at a snail’s pace.
Overall then, this book is definitely worth reading if you’ve read the first two books in the series, but you need to bear in mind that the end will leave you hanging and that it feels like we’re losing a little momentum. I’m hoping that King can ramp the momentum back up again with the next book in the series.
And I will be reading it, for sure. That’s the thing with Roland and his friends – it’s eminently readable, and even if it feels like it’s going a little slowly, you still power through the pages. I can’t imagine anything stopping me from finishing the series now that I’ve started. It’s a decent read, and The Waste Lands is that sort of ‘middle book‘ that’s there because it needs to be there. It doesn’t stand out above the other books, but it is still worth reading despite that. So what are you waiting for?