Title: Wolves of the Calla
Author: Stephen King
Page Count/Review Word Count: 790
And we’re back! This is book #5 in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, and it comes off the back of what was – so far at least – my least favourite book in the series. And I’m pleased to say that we’re back on course, although it still doesn’t feel like we’re making any progress towards the Tower.
Here, Roland and his ka-tet end up helping a small village to fend off the ‘wolves’ that keep attacking them, riding in every generation or so and carting off some of the kids. The town is almost exclusively populated by twins, and the wolves take one child from every pair away. Oh, the kids come back alright – it’s just that they’re ‘roont‘, almost braindead and cursed to a hopeless existence and an early death.
And so Roland and his posse need to try to protect the village and to permanently solve the problem, if they can. Unfortunately, the ethos of the gunslingers requires them to help, whether they want to or not – never mind the quest for the Dark Tower, that’ll just have to wait. Luckily, this book is a lot of fun, and there are plenty of twists and turns to keep you going along the way.
It was also interesting to see some of the politics of the Calla – after all, not everyone wants their help, and it’s not the gunslingers’ place to convince them that they need it. This book, then, investigates how their very presence is enough to galvanise the town, and it’s interesting to see some of the new allies they make and the unique weapons that they use, which are referenced again in the next book.
Now, that’s about as far as I want to go with regards to the story line, because I don’t want to spoil it for you. Unfortunately, due to the style of my reviews (one word per page), I have another 400 words to go, and so I’d better find something interesting to talk about.
I guess that the length is one of them – in fact, my granddad made a comment about it, and it’s true that it’s a big old book. It was too heavy for me to read in the bath, and it started to make my hands hurt if I read it too long. But it’s so, so readable that you just won’t want to put it down, so you’d better get lifting some weights and getting into shape because if you’re anything like me, you’ll be addicted to it.
It’s good to be so addicted to a book like this, because it takes dedication to get to the end of it. That said, you also feel a sense of accomplishment, and I’ve been able to power through the first five books in just a couple of months. It’s certainly a little faster to get through than Game of Thrones is, and in many ways it’s more enjoyable. You don’t have to think as much, although it helps.
When I was reading this book, I also started to notice symbolism all over the place – the Tower and the rose are both prominent throughout for example, strong pieces of symbolism that King scatters throughout his work, and I started to see them both in my day-to-day life. I even bought a candle that reminded me of the Tower.
Overall, then, with the Dark Tower series, you need to read them in order. This book isn’t the best (I still have a soft spot for the very first book, The Gunslinger), but it’s still a cracking read and definitely worth sticking at the series for. As always, there’s plenty to keep you going back for more, and if you’ve made it this far then you’ll be pleased to know that the next book is only 440 pages or so, and so it’s a relatively short read in comparison.
Stephen King has said that this series is his magnum opus, a phrase I had to explain to my family when I mentioned it to them. The phrase means ‘great work‘ in Latin, and refers to the defining piece or pieces of work in a creator’s portfolio. I suppose I’d have to agree with him – it’s certainly an epic, but with so many great books to choose from, I’m not sure if you can elevate any of them above the others.
Regardless, the Dark Tower is definitely a series that I’d recommend, especially if you’re a keen reader who’s read some of King’s other books. So what are you waiting for? Start your quest for the Dark Tower today – it might just be ka!