The Dark Tower – Part V

February 4, 2011 at 12:30 am (Uncategorized)

I’m reaching the end of this series of entries. If you have born with me so far – thanks. If you haven’t – I can understand why you didn’t because it’s very difficult to both summarize and comment a series such as the Dark Tower. Those of you who have read the books will probably get my drift. If not – oh well, what the hell 🙂

When I started to read the finale volume, The Dark Tower, I was already kind of tired. Four months of more or less constant reading can be very tiring at times, and even though I enjoyed the books, I found that I was quite happy that, finally, I would be done with it. Volume VII has a great opening – it has action, it has drama, it closes Callahan’s story in the only way possible. The ka-tet might be split, but is not broken yet. There are lots of wonderful moments in this book, lots of revelations. But there are also a lot of downfalls.

Mia gives birth to Mordred who turns out to be a were-spider – oh God, a spider. Again. I hate the damn things. And I felt for Mia when she, still completely high from giving birth and wanting nothing more than to hold her baby, was eaten alive by the creature. It was disgusting, yet the only way that King could get rid of Mia. She had fulfilled her destiny. She was no longer necessary, wasn’t needed anymore. Susannah, however, was. Thus she killed of the taheen (the humans with the heads of animals) and managed to reunite with the ka-tet.

For most of it, I enjoyed the last volume but there were numerous chapters I just hated. At least three times, I slammed the book on a table nearby out of frustration and anger. So please, instead of recounting what’s good about the book, let me rant about the bad parts.

Let’s start with Eddie. I knew he would be dying because I had read an unmarked spoiler on the German King boards, in a thread that was quite innocently entitled “The most loathsome characters”. One user chose to name Pimli “because he shot Eddie” – and she didn’t use spoiler tags for this one. So I was prepared for Eddie’s death. What I was not prepared for was how long it took Eddie to actually die. He’s shot in the head, falls down and is carried off to a room where he can die. His death stretches over at least ten pages – TEN PAGES! For most of the time, I was crying, unable to see the words written, at the same time hating King for doing this to one of my favourite characters. After the chapter, I slammed the book on a table nearby and decided I needed a cigarette. At that point, I figured that probably the rest of the ka-tet (that was now broken) would die as well – I knew Oy would die (another spoiler I stumbled upon), and I figured that Jake would die as well. Hey, the kid has died twice before, why not let him die a third time?

And this is just what King did. He let Jake die in order to save himself. King chose to come to terms with the trauma he endured after the accident in 1999 by making Roland and Jake go to Maine (again) and save his life as a character. Jake throws himself between King and the car that is about to hit him. King lives, Jake dies. And this happened only one chapter after Eddie had died. This was the second time I slammed the book on a table – ok, not a table but that glove compartment of our car since I was reading this particular scene while driving to Salzburg with my boyfriend (do I have to stress that he was the one driving?). I was mad even though I had seen it coming. King sacrifices the boy so that he can live? Argh. I didn’t cry for Jake, mind you. But I felt deeply sorry for Roland and Oy. It broke my heart to read how they buried Jake, how Oy cried, how Roland broke down. And all this so that a writer could live and finish his tale.

I’ll give King this much: He hasn’t tried to picture himself as a likeable character. He’s an alcoholic, he smokes too much, he’s not very trustworthy. But why, oh why, did he choose the Dark Tower series to dwell upon his traumatic experience? Why didn’t he just write an autobiography like other people do? Why did he have to go ahead and ruin this series? I still think that even without the chapters focusing on King himself, the story wouldn’t have changed much. If the chapters had been erased, the damage would have been minor or maybe even not existing at all.

Yes, I hate the idea that Stephen King chose to introduce himself as a major character. I think it’s narcisstistic and vain. His readers know that he’s a talented writer but he doesn’t have to rub it into our faces, does he? The chapters focusing on him also reveal one of King’s big weaknesses: He is able to build up to a climax, he can create intriguing characters, but sometimes he loses it and ruins it all.

The last volume in the Dark Tower series was quite frustrating sometimes. Apart from the aforementioned chapters in which King himself appears, there are numerous chapters that had me go “Oh noooooooooo, how can you do THAT??” Take Mordred, for instance. We are told that Mordred is a very powerful creature and that he’s meant to kill Roland. He’s able of telepathy, and he grows at an extraordinary speed. I would have expected an epic final battle between Mordred and Roland, but what do we get? Mordred, greedy and hungry as he is, devours some rotten horse flesh which turns out to be poisoned. Thus he suffers from diarrhea and puking. He’s growing weak, slowly dying from food poisoning. And when he finally attacks Roland and Patrick, the artist, he’s too stupid to consider Oy who saves the day by biting Mordred so that Roland can kill him. Oy dies as well (another part I hated) but Mordred’s also dead. Yay. Killing a giant spider that suffers from diarrhea really is heroic, ain’t it? Totally, utterly meaningless. Where’s the epic battle between father and son I’ve been waiting for?

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