The Dark Tower – Part IV

February 3, 2011 at 11:46 pm (Dark Tower, Literature, Stephen King)

Volume VI, Song of Susannah, basically focuses on the struggle between Susannah and Mia who turns out to be a demon inhabiting Susannah in order to give birth to “the chap”, as she is fond of calling the baby. Mia has been given a body by the Crimson King and his minions; the baby she carries is both Roland’s and the Crimson King’s. Don’t ask me how this works. Actually, Song of Susannah is quite confusing – a great read, but confusing. The story is this: When Roland had to distract the demon in The Gunslinger so it wouldn’t kill Jake, he planted his semen inside the demon. The demon turned out to be both male and female, that is to say, it could switch gender. When Susannah distracted the demon while Roland and Eddie tried to save Jake, the demon switched to its male part, thus giving Roland’s seed to Susannah. Hooray! Now Roland’s going to be a daddy! Also, some part of the Crimson King has mingled with Roland’s seed so that the child will have to fathers. Great, eh? Just think of the possibilities – the little boy playing both fathers, getting from one what the other has denied. Of course, it’s not that simple.

As it turns out, the child Mia carries will be Roland’s Nemesis, and since the child will be named Mordred, people who are familiar with the legend of King Arthur will know what this might lead up to. After all, Roland is from the line of Arthur Eld – King Arthur, in other words -, and he’s the last one. As we know, the legend of King Arthur has father and son battling each other to death. Is this what Roland has to expect? We’ll see.

Song of Susannah focuses on various plots. First, there’s Mia and Susannah, sharing a body and ready to give birth in New York, helped by the agents of the Crimson King – gruesome creatures with human bodies and animal heads as well as the lower men, giant rats disguised as human beings. Second, there’s Jake and Callahan’s journey to New York to rescue Susannah. Third, there are Roland and Eddie who go to Maine via the Unfound Door to seek out Stephen King. And this is where the book starts to deteriorate. The chapter entitled “The Writer” is just plain awful because it introduces Stephen King as a character – a vital character, as it turns out. Upon seeing Roland, he tries to flee. Furthermore, we are told that Roland and Stephen King look like father and son (or brothers). This made me cringe. From the very first page of The Gunslinger, I had depicted Roland as a worn-out, tall, lean guy – a bit like Clint Eastwood in his 40s. But never – NEVER – did it cross my mind that Roland might look like Stephen King. Awful. Just awful.

It gets even worse. King – the character – tells Roland and Eddie that he has made them up, thus relativising the whole story. Argh. Even though it turns out that King only listens to the Song of the Turtle (the Turtle being one of the Guardians of the Beams) and is more or less the annalist, it was awful. It felt so… cheap. So narcissistic. Even more so since King ascribed to himself a very powerful role – that of saving the Tower, eventually. Roland and Eddie urge him to finish the tale, to listen to the Song because otherwise the Tower might fall. I absolutely hated that part. I know there are readers out there who thought it was a great twist, and I guess they can argue why they think that is. Good for them if they liked this. For me, it was a downfall. A big one. It was like plunging into some deep dark hole. And it got even worse.

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